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Wizards edge Grizzlies, but barely, in John Wall's return to lineup

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Wizards edge Grizzlies, but barely, in John Wall's return to lineup

The Washington Wizards beat the Memphis Grizzlies 93-87 on Wednesday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Wall returned: The Wizards had John Wall back on Wednesday night for the first time after a nine-game absence and he helped lead them to a win over the Grizzlies, despite the fact he was restriced to just 28 minutes. Wall played decent with 13 points (6-for-15 FG) and four assists, but his return wasn't enough to solve everything for the Wizards, who are in a considerable rut at the moment.

They once again let a lesser team give them a real challenge. This time the Wizards were able to win after not being as lucky in their previous two games, but a six-point win over the 8-20 Mike Conley-less Grizzlies is no major achievement.

The Grizzlies have lost 16 of their last 17 games, yet they battled back from down 17 points to take a two-point lead, their first of the game, at 67-65 with 8:53 left. The Wizards would pull away with a 13-0 run sparked by threes from Mike Scott and Bradley Beal. They are now 15-13 on the season.

As for Wall, he took a while to get going but once he did he reminded the Wizards what they were missing. Wall had nine points in the second quarter, including a three and one of his trademark lefty dunks:

Wall can get past anyone, even when he's in the first game back from two knee procedures.

[PODCAST: NBA REPORTER DAVID ALDRIDGE TALKS WIZARDS]

Satoransky still in the rotation: One interesting byproduct of Wall's return is what head coach Scott Brooks does with Tomas Satoransky, who played well in a backup role during Wall's absence. We got that answer quickly in the first quarter when it was Satoransky and not Tim Frazier who came in first to spell Wall.

Satoransky was okay, he had three points, two assists and four fouls in 15 minutes. But the fact he played more minutes (15) than Frazier (five) is telling. The second unit thrived with Satoransky running point when Wall was out and Satoransky seemed to play well enough to earn a larger role.

That may end up forcing him to play some shooting guard or small forward, but for one night he was still getting point guard minutes. Whether he has officially earned Brooks' trust yet or not remains to be seen. The leash could be short, as we've seen the past two years.

No offense: The first half of this one was not one for those who like scoring. The Wizards had a so-so half with 41 points on 41.9 percent shooting, but the Grizzlies were absolutely dreadful. They had 12 points in the first quarter and 17 in the second to total 29 at the half.

The 12 points in the first were the fewest allowed by the Wizards in a quarter this season. The 29 points at halftime were the fewest the Wizards have surrendered in a half since 2012. The Wizards deserve some credit for their defense, as Memphis shot just 27.8 percent in the first half, but the Grizzlies are generally terrible on offense. They entered the game 29th in the NBA in points per game.

Mahinmi, Morris out: Just when they got Wall back, the Wizards saw another starter go down with an injury. Morris was held out with a sore right hip and Scott started in his place. It's unclear if the hip injury is related to anything else he's dealt with in recent months, between a sprained left ankle and sports hernia surgery, but it wouldn't be surprising.

Ian Mahinmi missed his second straight game with a right knee strain. Brooks said before the game that Mahinmi had a clean MRI, so he likely won't be out long.

Scott keeps balling: Moving from the bench to the starting lineup didn't slow Scott, who continues to be on fire. He had 10 points and five rebounds and shot 4-for-7 from the field and 2-for-4 from three. Over his last five games, Scott has 58 points and has shot 25-for-33. That'll do. 

The fact the Wizards signed him to a veteran's minimum continues to amaze.

Up next: The Wizards get a much-needed day off Thursday with no game and no practice. They pick back up on Friday night by hosting the Clippers, who beat them on Saturday in L.A. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

The 2018 NBA offseason in just three weeks has become one of the wildest summers in the league's history between LeBron James signing with the Lakers, and all the characters that followed him, to DeMarcus Cousins surprising everyone to sign with the Golden State Warriors, to Kawhi Leonard getting traded to the Raptors.

As crazy as it all has been, two teams in the Eastern Conference stand out for so far doing very little, either by choice or circumstance. The Celtics and Sixers, the two teams most see as the favorites in the East, appear at least so far to be running it back with the same group of players.

This appears to be the Celtics' intention. After overhauling their roster last summer, they clearly see an opportunity to take a step forward as-is. Boston was one win away from the NBA Finals and will return Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving from injury. With James gone to the West, they can improve significanly just by keeping it all together.

Boston re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes. Their biggest addition this summer so far has been their first round pick, Robert Williams.

The Sixers, unlike the Celtics, didn't appear to plan on doing it this way. They wanted James and missed out. They reportedly had interest in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but both went elsewhere. There are no stars left to sign in free agency and the trade market may be drying up.

Philly made some minor moves like trades for Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. They may also have a deal for Kyle Korver in the works. They also had two first round picks in Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet.

There's a chance the Sixers got better than people think, as many of the moves they made seem smart. But they didn't reel in a big fish and will probably come back for the 2018-19 season with a team very similar to the one that made the second round of the playoffs this spring.

The fact the Celtics and Sixers may stand pat is probably a good thing for the rest of the East. Both teams may improve naturally if they are healthier and if their young players continue to ascend. But neither made a game-changing addition, one that would solidify either as an unstoppable superteam in the conference. 

The West is overloaded with title contenders and All-NBA players. The East, meanwhile, is much more open and it may end up staying that way mainly because Boston and Philly have been quiet so far this summer.

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Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld has stayed relatively busy this summer crafting his new-look lineup for the 2018-19 season. 

One of the team's key additions, Dwight Howard, is set to be introduced as a member of the Wizards on Monday. 

NBC Sports Washington will air the introductory press conference live at 1 p.m. while also streaming it online.  

Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Scott Brooks are both expected to be in attendance. 

The 32-year-old big man is coming off a 2017-18 season with the Charlotte Hornets in which he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. 

Since leaving the Orlando Magic after eight seasons in 2011, Howard has played for four different teams in the last six years. 

Howard is an eight-time all-star and a three-time defensive player of the year. 

 

RELATED LINKS: 

John Wall's take on Dwight Howard 

Wizards make Dwight Howard free agent signing official 

By the numbers: Is new Wizards center Dwight Howard still in his NBA prime?