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Brooks: John Wall sets career pace despite knee surgeries holding him back

Brooks: John Wall sets career pace despite knee surgeries holding him back

The streaks are piling up for the Wizards, nine wins in a row at Verizon Center and eight of their wins this season coming back from double-digit deficits. It's not ideal and a lot of the latter has to do with slow starts defensively when opponents score 30 or more points in the first quarter. 

But coach Scott Brooks pointed to one key area for their revival going into Tuesday night's game vs. the Chicago Bulls: John Wall. 

Although most of the country doesn't recognize not only what he's doing from a statistical standpoint, evident by Wall being just seventh among East guards in All-Star voting, but the context in which he's doing it. Wall had surgeries to both knees May 5 after he averaged 19.9 points and 10 rebounds in a 41-41 2015-16 season. Now he's at a career high 23.1 points per game, 10.1 assists (0.1 off a career-high), 4.4 rebounds and a career-high 2.3 steals. He's also shooting 46.6% from the field (also a career-high) and has 22 double-doubles which far outdistances any guard in his conference.

RELATED: Wade may miss matchup vs. Wizards

"I always give a lot of praise to players that put  (themselves) out there when they’re not NBA ready 100 percent. He had the two knee surgeries over the summer. His first practice was October 7th. He was working himself into shape while we were playing games for real. A lot of players don’t do it," Brooks said after Monday's afternoon practice session. "You hear it a lot, 'I’m not coming back until I’m 1,000 percent ready.’ We’re not going to put anybody out there if they’re not physically ready but you still have to get past being game ready, being in shape and playing through the conditioning that you need. He has done that."

Given what has happened with Derrick Rose as of Monday night, Brooks' perspective could be even more appropriate (Note: He was not referring to Rose or any other player other than Wall so the timing here was pure coincidence). Rose, who had a checkered history when with the Chicago Bulls of holding himself out of games after knee surgery, didn't report to Madison Square Garden for a game with the New York Knicks. The reasons remain unclear. If this turns out to be a voluntary decision and that he didn't clear it with the team first, it would be nothing short of stunning.

Rose, too, is among the six East guards ahead of Wall in All-Star voting. Wall had 10 double-doubles in December. That's nine more than Rose has had all season, and Wall was on an early-season minutes restriction and held out from both games of back-to-backs. 

"He hit is stride in early December. Now he lost some weight that he gained when he wasn’t able to do anything and he’s down to his fighting weight and he’s playing well," Brooks said. "He’s moving well. He’s making shots. He’s locking up defensively. When John has good games for us, he’s one of the best defending point guards in the league. It’s a hard position to defend with so many great point guards offensive minded and every team is built on 70 or 80 pick-and-rolls each game."

The Wizards began 2-8. Wall has led them back to 18-18 and they have a chance to be over .500 for the second time this season. It would be the first time they get over that hump since they were 6-5 on Nov. 24, 2015. They had four chances only to fail last season at 14-14, 19-19, 30-30 and 35-35.

MORE NBA: NBA Insiders Notebook: Paul Millsap to Toronto?

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Takeaways from Wizards' tough loss in Game 4 to Atlanta Hawks

Takeaways from Wizards' tough loss in Game 4 to Atlanta Hawks

ATLANTA – The only crying to be done Monday by the Wizards is when they look back at how they played in a disastrous second quarter, with a chance to blow out the Atlanta Hawks only to bottom out in Game 4.

Markieff Morris, who called Paul Millsap a “crybaby” after an 18-point loss in Game 3, was a no-show because of foul trouble and Atlanta rallied despite its starting point guard being saddled with three fouls in the first quarter to tie the series at 2-2 with a 111-101 victory at Phillips Arena.

Game 5 is Wednesday at Verizon Center.

The table had been set for the Wizards as they led by nine in the first quarter only to trail by that exact margin at halftime 59-50.

John Wall (22 points, 10 assists) got out to a fast start with eight points and five assists in the first quarter but sputtered. Bradley Beal (32 points) led all scorers. Otto Porter (13 points), who left Game 3 with a stinger in his neck and left shoulder, shot 5-for-10. Bojan Bogdanovic (13 points) had his best game of the series as he made multiple threes for the first time and went 5-for-9 from the field.

Still, the Hawks did much more. They had seven players score in double figures with Dwight Howard (16 points, 15 rebounds), Kent Bazemore (16 points, seven assists), Millsap (19 points, nine rebounds), Schroder (18 points), Taurean Prince (11 points, seven rebounds) and Jose Calderon (10 points, five assists) coming up with big shots at every turn.

The score was tied at 77 after the third quarter but the Hawks got stops, got out in transition and knocked down open shots that Washington had the habit of missing.

[RELATED: PHOTO: Hawks fans brought Morris 'crybaby' signs to Game 4]

--The Wizards shot 5-for-20, had eight turnovers in the second quarter (four by Wall) and were outrebounded 15-9. They were outscored 31-15 which turned the tide for good.

--Morris picked up his second foul at 6:44 in the first quarter and drew his third at 3:10 when trying to stop Prince on a drive. Prince shuffled his feet and the play should’ve been negated by a whistle but instead he got the and-1. Beal picked up his fourth in the last 49 seconds of the third when Schroder drove the lane. Ideally, that was Brandon Jennings’ assignment but he’s shown an inability to stay in front of the ball all series. Kelly Oubre had three fouls in his first six minutes.  

--Schroder picked up his third foul at 2:29 of the first quarter as Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer made a bad gamble. Schroder missed all three of his shots in 10 minutes played. The Wizards led 27-18 when he exited for Calderon, who ended up having to defend Beal.  Schroder didn’t play in the second quarter and when they went to the locker room the Hawks led 59-50 at halftime. Beal only got off three shots in the second quarter and made two of them. Wall shot 1-for-6.

--Oubre’s decision-making off a steal was typical of the Wizards’ play in the second quarter. Wall could be heard calling for the ball as he trailed and Atlanta had numbers back. Oubre continued his straight line to the basket where Hardaway awaited to take a charge. Wall misfired on a lob to Morris at the rim and then Beal misfired with a lob to Wall. What had been a nine-point lead was now a 41-38 deficit when Calderon buried a three.

--The Hawks weren’t finding shooters in transition or even when the pace was slowed. Beal’s second missed three came on a throwahead from Wall on a dead ball. Beal was all alone but backrimmed the shot. Bogdanovic had a spot up from a similar spot midway through the second quarter and didn’t get a runner to contest. He also backrimmed it.

--Howard had been a non-factor but had his first double-double of the series by halftime. Bazemore found him twice on lobs at the rim as there was confusion on the coverage as Gortat went to stop the ball. No one was back to contest or stop Howard’s roll to the rim.

--Jennings (five points) had a small burst when he took advantage of Mike Muscala switching onto him on the perimeter and drained a pair of stepback jumpers but that’s where his impact ended. Muscala’s time was limited to seven minutes while Ersan Ilyasova (six points) logged 22 minutes.

--Bogdanovic shot 1-for-10 from three for the first three games of the series before he found his touch late.

[RELATED: Will John Wall work out with Dennis Schroder this summer?]

 

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PHOTO: Hawks fans brought Markieff Morris 'crybaby' signs to Game 4

PHOTO: Hawks fans brought Markieff Morris 'crybaby' signs to Game 4

Atlanta Hawks fans are getting creative in their quest to get in Markieff Morris' head for Game 4.

Following Morris' comments calling Hawks' power forward Paul Millsap a "crybaby," Hawks fans are turning that around on the Wizards. Check out these signs below courtesy of USA Today. The one on the left is reminiscent of all the LeBron James crybaby signs we have seen over the years:

That's not bad. We'll see if Morris can get the best of Millsap after the Hawks took Game 3.

[RELATED: Bradley Beal goes 1-on-1 on his slump and trash talking]