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John Wall, Stephen A. Smith 'Rosebar' beef plays out in Wizards' win with Smith courtside

John Wall, Stephen A. Smith 'Rosebar' beef plays out in Wizards' win with Smith courtside

Exactly 18 months to the day after John Wall hit the biggest shot of his career in Game 6 against the Celtics, and Markieff Morris slapped Stephen A. Smith on the rear in celebration, Smith was back in Washington for more.

Smith had ignited NBA Twitter with an epic tirade about Wall and the Wizards, how the team should be blown up and how Wall was spending too much time at clubs instead of focusing on his craft. He even named a place he thinks Wall frequents, Rosebar in Northwest Washington.

Whether Wall goes there enough to deserve that sort of ridicule on national television or not, it stuck. Memes were made of Wall wearing a Wizards jersey, photoshopped with 'Rosebar' on the front. Wall even admitted the picture was funny in an Instagram Live address to his fans.

So there Smith was, down from ESPN's studios in New York, sitting in the front row and ready to face the very team he blasted out in the open. To his credit, Smith often does this. Soon after he tears the Wizards to shreds, he makes an appearance to back up his words.

He picked a good game to come down. Wall, who was coming off a 28-point performance in a win over the Heat, carried it over against the Magic and with Smith sitting baseline, just steps away from the Wizards' bench. 

Wall lit up Orlando for a clean 25 points, 10 assists, four rebounds, a block and a steal in just 33 minutes of work. He shot 9-for-15 from the field and 2-for-3 from three.

After a sluggish start to the season, Wall has turned things up in his last five games. During that stretch, he's averaged 24.4 points, 9.6 assists and 2.4 steals while shooting 47.8 percent from the field and 43.5 percent from three (10-for-23).

After he diced up the Magic, Wall was asked if Smith's rants and the jokes that swept across the NBA-obsessed corners of the internet had anything to do with his recent tear. He declined.

"Nah," he said with his eyes peering through gold-rimmed sunglasses. "I'm used to it."

His teammates disagree. Shooting guard Bradley Beal believes that is exactly what happened.

"Y'all pissed him off, man. It's y'all's fault," Beal said, speaking of the media in general. 

"He's going to come out and play like Wolf Wall. That's what we need him to do... That's just John. We need him to do that. We need him to lead the ship."

The results at least somewhat back up Beal's claims. Since we're on the subject, how about some pre-Rosebar rant and post-Rosebar rant splits? They don't calculate those on Basketball Reference, so these were done the old fashioned way, by hand.

Before Smith went off, the Wizards were 2-8 and Wall was averaging only 7.6 assists and shooting 28.6 percent from three. After Smith's diatribe, the Wizards are 2-1 with Wall posting 10.3 assists per game while knocking down 45.5 percent from long range.

Sure, those numbers are selective, but this isn't scientific research. It's just a credible theory from a guy in Beal who his in the midst of his seventh season playing with Wall. He knows what makes Wall tick and he saw a difference in him on Monday night.

"I'm happy you guys lit a little flame up under him. He got us going. He got us all going," he said.

Beal wasn't the only Wizards player to notice Smith was in attendance. After a shot Wall made with 4:17 to go in the fourth quarter, guard Austin Rivers pointed in Smith's direction during the ensuing timeout. They sensed Wall was proving Smith and all of his haters wrong, regardless of whether he would admit it or not.

Of course, Wall already has plenty of motivation to play well and doesn't need someone like Smith or anyone in the media to get him going. But his teammates, and Wizards fans, will take it.

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Wizards' biggest storylines coming out of the preseason

Wizards' biggest storylines coming out of the preseason


The Wizards closed their 2019-20 preseason schedule with a win over the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday, which means up next is the regular season opener on Wednesday night in Dallas. Now that the exhibition schedule is (finally) over, here are five takeaways from what we saw...

Injuries have added up

The Wizards entered this preseason with a lot of things to sort out in their rotation due to the significant roster overhaul they went through in the summer. But injuries complicated things further for head coach Scott Brooks, who wasn't offered anything close to a full cupboard to work with.

The most notable injuries were to Isaiah Thomas (thumb) and Troy Brown Jr. (calf). Both players will be key members of the rotation when they recover, but are each on track to miss the start of the regular season. The same goes for C.J. Miles, who has a foot injury. There is also Ian Mahinmi, who has an Achilles issue, though he is not likely to play a big role on the team this season.

Hachimura looks the part

The early returns on rookie Rui Hachimura have been good. The 2019 ninth overall pick has not looked timid or out of place on an NBA floor. He has shown he can attack the rim assertively and has even made a few threes. Those two areas will be key to watch for him this season; how he can adapt to NBA interior defenders and shooting threes from a longer distance.

Hachimura is a likely starter for the Wizards this season and should get ample shot opportunities. He is going to have a chance to be a focal point of the Wizards' offense and probably a long enough leash to play through his mistakes. As a young player, you can't ask for much more than that.

Also impressive this preseason were Moe Wagner, who was much better than he showed in the Las Vegas Summer League, and Thomas Bryant, who looks like he is going to take another step from his breakout season last year. Bryant is more confident knocking down threes and has been a force on the glass. Don't be surprised if he averages a double-double this season.

Small forward is a question

The Wizards had Brown penciled in to be their full-time starting small forward, according to a person familiar with their plans, but his injury is expected to keep him out to start the season. He did a post-practice workout the other day and wasn't moving very quickly, either due to discomfort in his calf or to be extra cautious in fear of a setback.

Either way, he is still rehabbing and so is Miles. The Wizards also released Justin Anderson, leaving them with no obvious choice to start at the three. At this point, it looks likely they will have to either put someone there that is probably best suited for another position like Hachimura, Davis Bertans or Jordan McRae, or roll with someone who is very inexperienced like Bonga or Admiral Schofield. The odds seem better they choose the former.

Final roster spot?

The Wizards now have until Monday at 5 p.m. to decide who gets their final roster spot. The safe money at this point is probably for point guard Justin Robinson to get that spot and for Chris Chiozza to have his contract converted to a two-way deal.

The Chiozza part has been speculated for weeks and it is the direction the team is leaning, NBC Sports Washington was told. If Chiozza did get the two-way contract, he could remain with the team to start the season and help fill the void at point guard while Thomas recovers from his left thumb surgery. Chiozza would have 45 days allotted at the NBA level, but that clock would not begin until Oct. 28 when G-League training camps open.

Beal's commitment

This season took on an entirely different tone with Thursday's news Bradley Beal would sign a contract extension with the Wizards. This year had the potential to be overshadowed by Beal's uncertain future, but now that has been put to rest. The trade rumors can be set aside as Beal has made it official his commitment to the Wizards' plan.

Now, that could get interesting late in the year if losses are piling up. He ultimately wants to win and it will bear watching how he shows his frustration if the team isn't playing up to his standards.

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Wizards and Mystics join Game Growers to help boost girls participation in sports

Wizards and Mystics join Game Growers to help boost girls participation in sports

The Washington Wizards and Mystics join in on Nike’s NBA and WNBA Game Growers program. The Game Growers program is meant to provide eighth grade girls with the skills and assets they need in order to grow their participation in sports in their communities. 

With this new program, the Wizards and Mystics can contribute to expanding the game of basketball for young DMV girls. Along with that, the Washington Mystics just won the WNBA Championships, this is perfect timing for them to introduce the sport to the next generation.

Today, the Game Growers Program officially was put into action, on a YouTube video stream. The video stream had Las Vegas Aces forward A’Ja Wilson, actress Sky Katz, the Director of Operations for the Women’s National Basketball Players Association Terri Jackson featuring in it. They discussed the advantages of being an athlete beyond going professional and encourage girls to apply.

In order for the future basketball stars to get in on the action, they must apply to GameGrowers.com by submitting their ideas on how to grow the game of basketball in their communities. The application opened today and will close on November 15, 2019. The winners will be made public in December 2019. 

By January 2020 two girls will join alongside the Wizards and Mystics in going to Training Camp at Nike’s World Headquarters in Washington County, Oregon. This event won’t only be run by Nike and professional basketball players, but will also have GENYOUth (a youth empowerment organization) tag along as well. At the Training Camp, the girls will have an opportunity to polish up their ideas with Nike and NBA and WNBA teams. 

If lucky, some Game Growers teams will be chosen to exhibit their ideas at the 2020 WNBA Draft, which will be in New York City this April. 

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