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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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5 must-see moments from Wizards' win over Brooklyn Nets

5 must-see moments from Wizards' win over Brooklyn Nets

Here are five plays or moments from the Washington Wizards' 129-108 win over the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night at the Verizon Center that are worth revisiting...

1. The Wizards' night ended much better than it began. Early in the afternoon John Wall was dealing with a migraine headache, as reported by CSN. His status for the game was considered questionable.

But then he showed up and was cleared to start. And very early he showed everyone that he was good to go.

Wall finished with 22 points and nine assists, two of those points coming on this vicious attack of the basket past a helpless Jeremy Lin:

2. This was Wall's best highlight of the night. He drove and scooped in a pretty layup off the glass:

3. As mentioned above, Wall had nine assists, none better than this dish to Marcin Gortat that followed some nifty dribble moves:

4. This was the best play of the night. Bradley Beal used a hesitation move to get to the rim and finish with a gorgeous layup on an and-1:

Beal ended up with 19 points, 15 of them in the third quarter alone. 

5. One of the biggest stories of the night was the bench, which combined to score 70 points. Two of those came on this alley-oop from Brandon Jennings to Kelly Oubre, Jr.:

Jennings had 18 points and nine assists and Oubre added nine points, his highest scoring output since Feb. 6. Add it all up and the Wizards are officially heading back to the playoffs for the first time in two years.

[RELATED: Wizards clinch playoff spot for third time in four years]

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Devin Booker scores 70 points, becoming just the sixth player to ever that milestone

Devin Booker scores 70 points, becoming just the sixth player to ever that milestone

BOSTON -- Devin Booker scored 70 points, becoming the sixth different player in NBA history to reach that total, but the Boston Celtics got 34 points from Isaiah Thomas and outlasted the Phoenix Suns 130-120 on Friday night.

Booker joined Wilt Chamberlain, Kobe Bryant, David Thompson, David Robinson and Elgin Baylor as the NBA's 70-point scorers. Baylor also held the previous record against the Celtics with 64 points in Minneapolis for the Lakers on Nov. 8, 1959.

Just 20 years old, Booker scored 51 after halftime.

The win was Boston's third straight, and avenged its buzzer-beater loss in Phoenix earlier this month.

The rematch was dominated early by the Celtics as they hit eight 3-pointers during a 37-point second quarter to grow their lead as high as 26 points.

Chamberlain had six 70-point games and his 62 points on Jan. 14, 1962, had been the most in Boston.

Phoenix has already been eliminated from playoff contention, and had only eight available players because of injuries. Younger than some lineups in the NCAA Tournament, the Suns have lost seven straight and nine of their last 10, and they were out of this one early before Booker's explosive performance made it interesting.

His previous career best was 39, which he reached three times before Friday. He had 19 points at halftime, then scored 23 in the third quarter to get the Suns back within range.

Boston took advantage of a disastrous shooting start by the Suns to build an early cushion.

The Suns missed their first 13 shots from the floor before Booker finally hit the first field goal for Phoenix on a layup with 4:40 left in the first quarter.