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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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Markieff Morris' success off Wizards' bench no accident, parallels his twin brother, Marcus

morris_twins_usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Markieff Morris' success off Wizards' bench no accident, parallels his twin brother, Marcus

Markieff Morris is just as amused as the rest of us when it comes to parallels between him and his twin brother, Marcus -- stuff that he likes to refer to as "twin s---." They played together at every level, including the NBA, before they were split up by trades from the Phoenix Suns. Yet the same things always seem to happen to them.

This year has been no exception, as Markieff has followed a similar path with the Wizards as Marcus has with his Celtics. Like Marcus, Markieff was moved to the bench and happens to be enjoying a good deal of success in his new role.

Marcus was the first to go from starter to reserve. He played mostly off the bench last season and then in his first 17 games this year before getting bumped back to the starting lineup.

Marcus thrived with the second unit in Boston and that success showed Markieff a blueprint. After all, it's easy to visualize yourself doing something when you have an identical twin who did it first.

"S--- happens. I mean, it's crazy how that switch happened," Markieff said. "Watching my brother and the success he had off the bench kind of helps me also, seeing [him] come off the bench after being a starter for a long time."

Wizard head coach Scott Brooks made the change before the team's Nov. 20 match-up with the Clippers. Markieff was moved to the bench and at the time was replaced by Kelly Oubre Jr.

In the 10 games since, of which the Wizards have won six, Markieff has put up improved numbers. He is scoring more, getting more rebounds and shooting more efficiently:

Markieff as starter (15 G) - 9.7 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 43.0 FG%, 34.0 3PT%, 103 off. rating
Markieff as reserve (10 G) - 15.0 ppg, 6.6
rpg, 46.3 FG%, 36.8 3PT%, 109 off. rating

Markieff is even playing more minutes. He's averaging 28.3 off the bench compared to 25.1 as a starter. Brooks is trusting him more to finish games. When he was starting, Markieff averaged 6.3 minutes in the fourth, but as a reserve, he leads the team with 9.9 minutes on average in the final frame.

Markieff explained his success off the bench in part based simply on the competition being different. He's used to going up against the best frontcourt players each team can offer. Now, he's facing their back-ups.

"I'm playing against second unit guys, so the game is easier," he said.

But Markieff sees other advantages from the switch, ones that Brooks was aiming for when he first explained the move. Markieff gets to take more shots now. He is the most reliable scorer on the Wizards' bench and, because of that, is getting more looks.

Markieff is averaging 12.3 shots as a bench player compared with 8.1. But, as he explained, it's more than just the attempts.

"It's me being involved in the offense more. It's the ball touching my hands a lot more in the second unit. I'm finding guys and scoring the ball. I've always got a rhythm," Markieff said. 

"Obviously, the first two options are John [Wall] and Brad [Beal]. They demand a lot of the offense in the first unit. We just need some structure in the second unit, a go-to scorer, a guy that is basically myself that structure the offense better."

Markieff has also noticed an advantage in beginning the game off the bench. He can watch how the opposing team is defending the Wizards on a given night. He can see how they are switching, whether they are helping on post touches and what they are trying to take away on pick-and-rolls. By the time Markieff hits the floor, he knows what to expect. 

All of that worked for Marcus in Boston, so, sure enough, it is the case for Markieff in Washington.

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John Wall won't play in Wizards' Monday night clash with Pacers

John Wall won't play in Wizards' Monday night clash with Pacers

John Wall acknowledged he probably shouldn't have played in the Wizards' Saturday loss in Cleveland. It appears Washington's five-time All-Star will listen to his body Monday in Indianapolis.

Head coach Scott Brooks told reporters at Monday's shootaround that Wall would sit out the final game of the Wizards' four-game road swing, which takes place at 7 p.m. ET on Monday night. The point guard battled bone spurs in his left ankle in the 116-101 loss to the Cavaliers. 

Wall, who was also under the weather in Cleveland according to Brooks, scored a career-low one point in what he called the "worst game of my life." He missed all five of his field goal attempts in 26 minutes.

“It’s just like a bone spur but today it got really hot," Wall said Saturday. "Probably shouldn’t have played. That’s my fault… I’ve had it for a while. It comes and goes from days where it’s hot and today it’s like I really couldn’t run.”  

Wall played in the opening 24 games for Washington, but will now miss two of the last three. He sat out Wednesday's 131-117 win at Atlanta for "personal reasons." 

The Wizards thrashed the Hawks, setting a season-high with 35 assists. Bradley Beal established a new season-best in Atlanta with 36 points. Washington's other All-Star is averaging 28 points over the last four games.

Despite the shocking result in Cleveland, Washington is 2-1 during the current road swing. Finishing with a winning record won't come easy against an Indiana (16-10) squad that has won three in a row despite the continued absence of injured guard Victor Oladipo. The Pacers lead the NBA in points allowed (101.5) and rank fifth in 3-point shooting percentage (37.0).

Brooks played coy Monday over who replaces Wall in the starting lineup. Austin Rivers handled such duties against Atlanta, finishing with nine points, seven rebounds, and seven assists.

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