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Double-doubles keep rolling in for John Wall in All-Star level performance

Double-doubles keep rolling in for John Wall in All-Star level performance

The fan voting for the NBA All-Star Game hasn't been favorable to John Wall, but the Wizards' point guard -- already a three-time All-Star -- put another notch in the best season of his career with 18 assists to go with 18 points in a fourth-quarter comeback win.

It came a day after he learned that he only received 87,360 popular votes among Eastern Conference guards for the Feb. 19 showcase in New Orleans while lesser perfomers such as Dwyane Wade (278,052) and Derrick Rose (129,924) outdistanced him though they're on teams with comparable records to Washington (17-18)

"Eight-seven thousand votes?" Wall said sarcastically, though with a smile, to CSNmidatlantic.com after he had 18 points and 18 assists in a 112-105 victory. "I'll take it."

Wall has 22 double-doubles, 13 more than the next nearest pure guard in the conference which is Avery Bradley of the Boston Celtics (nine) who plays at the two. Nicolas Batum, a shooting guard/small forward for the Charlotte Hornets, has 10.

Among point guards ahead of Wall in the voting, the leader Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers has six double-doubles, the Toronto Raptors' Kyle Lowry also has six, Isaiah Thomas of the Celtics just four and Rose only one with the N.Y. Knicks.

The only players above Wall in double-doubles in the East are centers Andre Drummond (24), Hassan Whiteside (24) and Dwight Howard (23). 

Wall's are much tougher to tally because of his role. His double-doubles create a ripple effect because as the primary ballhandler he's why the Wizards had five other players score in double figures Friday. Five of the seven field goals made by Otto Porter (17 points) came from Wall's assists. Four of Marcin Gortat's nine makes were product of his passes. In all, the Wizards had 31 assists on 46 baskets and the wealth was distributed almost equally. It's a staple of their offense when they play well. 

"John is always facilitating like that so it is a lot easier playing with him," said Markieff Morris, who had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting. "You just have to make some shots. It is as simple as that."

Wall only had four points at halftime, but he didn't hunt for shots the way Zach LaVine did repeatedly in shooting 3-for-14 for Minnesota. Instead, Wall took his time, picked apart the traps on the ball by Gorgui Dieng and Karl-Anthony Towns and made the simple pocket passes that helped produce 9-for-9 shooting by Gortat. 

Carefully, he injected pace into the game.

"Every time I came areound there was like two guys there," Wall said of the Wolves' defensive strategy on the pick-and-roll coverage. 

They were determined to keep Wall away from the rim, so he set the table for his teammates to inflict their damage first.

"They packed the paint in on the pick-and-rolls," said Bradley Beal, who had a team-high 22 points on just 12 shots, including 5 of 7 on three-pointers. "So John was able to find everybody."

Wall knocked down a long jumper for a 99-97 lead with 3:40 left and sliced into the lane on consecutive plays for layups and a 105-101 lead exactly two minutes later.

Beal, Wall's backcourt mate who isn't in the top 10 for All-Star fan voting for guards but has a viable case for inclusion as well, delivered the knockout blow on Minnesota with 69 seconds left. It was Beal only field goal in the fourth.

Wall made the assist on that shot for a 108-103 lead and Gortat finished a lob to end all hope -- also from Wall. The Wizards shot 58.2% overall, 46 of 79, just short of a season-high 58.3% set earlier in the season. They made 12 of 22 threes for 54.5%.

"Too easy. All you've got to do is run the floor and you're going to get open shots. Cut hard, run your plays hard and he'll find you," Beal said of Wall's orchestration of the offense. "It's just a matter of playing hard and playing with energy and the rest will take care of itself. We can get what we want on offense. We have a lot of offensive threats and guys who can make plays. We just put it all on the defense and just feed off of that."
The "M-V-P" chants returned as Wall stood at the foul line for the first time with 8.3 seconds left. He made them both though that wasn't indicative of his court presence. The Wizards have won nine in a row at Verizon Center.

"There is a lot of excitement and it's great to know that when they call our names they are cheering for us," Wall said. "It's something we can use as an advantage."

But will anyone outside of D.C. hear? For Wall to be an All-Star again, it'll likely have to come from coaches who vote for the reserves. They know all about Wall and his impact first-hand because they game plan to stop him and more often than not this season they've not succeeded.

And defensively, Wall is a much better player than the one who began the season slow after surgeries to both knees May 5. 

"When we were down in that fourth quarter, that's when he had to take over becaiuse Brad was out of the game," said Wizards coach Scott Brooks, who went with Wall and Gortat after a 14-point third quarter lead devolved into an 85-80 deficit entering the fourth. "He had to be more aggressive because we needed his scoring. ... We got stops. It gave us the opportunity to get out in transtion where he's at his best."

[RELATED: 5 must-see moments from Wizards' win over Timberwolves]

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Otto Porter steps up as Wizards' third scorer in Game 5 win over Hawks

Otto Porter steps up as Wizards' third scorer in Game 5 win over Hawks

On Wednesday afternoon, before the Wizards and Hawks tipped off in Game 5 of their playoff series, Scott Brooks talked about the need for a third scorer outside of John Wall and Bradley Beal after four games where the star duo carried much of the load. Brooks got just that in a Game 5 103-99 victory, as Otto Porter filled the void with 17 points and did so, amazingly, on just four shot attempts.

Porter at his best this season was the most efficient player on the Wizards. He was fifth in the NBA in effective field goal percentage and all four of the guys ahead of him were big men. 

That version of Porter hasn't consistently shown up in months. Opposing defenses have adjusted and taken away his open threes and late in the year he dealt with back spasms.

Through four playoff games, Porter had reached double figures twice but in the other two games had 11 total points. He had yet to fully break out, but did so on Wednesday.

"I talked to him yestereday and texted him," guard John Wall said. "I told him just keep shooting, keep cutting to the basket, things will start falling for you. It was great to see him get to the line and knock down a couple threes."

[RELATED: Wall gets win on late father's birthday, birth of best friend's 1st child]

The Hawks tried to check Porter at the perimeter and bump him out of his comfort zone with physical contact. Porter didn't retreat, he attacked the basket, mostly on the fastbreak, and was rewarded with 10 free throw attempts, a new career-high. He sank nine of them, also a career best.

"Just trying to be agressive," Porter said. "Just trying to take advantage of my opportunities in transition."

Of Porter's three field goal makes, two of them were from three-point range. Porter did his work at the free throw line and in just about every other aspect of the game. He had five rebounds, two steals, a block and an assist. He also helped close out Paul Millsap on double teams to help out Markieff Morris. All of that in 31 minutes and in a game the Wizards pretty much needed to win to hopes of moving on realistic.

Porter is the type of player who can impact a game in a variety of ways. But getting more from him offensively went a long way to help the Wizards get a pivotal Game 5 victory. He was the first Wizards player outside of Wall or Beal to score 15 points or more since Morris did in Game 1.

Porter came through just when the Wizards needed him.

"That was super big for us," Morris said. "We can count on Otto every time. I wouldn't call it a step-up because that's what he's been doing."

[RELATED: Wall's cape makes strong case for wildest outfit of playoffs]

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Morning tip: Adjustments for Wizards that worked best in Game 5 vs. Hawks

Morning tip: Adjustments for Wizards that worked best in Game 5 vs. Hawks

The Hawks had made their share of adjustments to get the series even with the Wizards, but Scott Brooks came up with his share of tweaks for a 103-99 win in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead.

Game 6 is in Atlanta on Friday, and there are only so many different wrinkles that they can throw at each other as each team has held serve on their home floor. 

A look at the key ones that have taken place:

-- Doubling Paul Millsap. For the first time the Wizards did it. They got results as John Wall got the strip and a foul on Millsap and Beal came over for a block with 1:36 left

-- Bradley Beal running the offense. There hadn't been much of it, but there was more when he shared the floor with Brandon Jennings.

-- Jennings taking advantage of Jose Calderon. He stayed in front of Calderon rather than gambling for steals and actually got one for a quick layup by moving his feet laterally and staying in front of the 35-year-old backup. 

[RELATED: VIDEO: Wall throws down huge dunk vs. Hawks in Game 5]

-- Marcin Gortat vs. Millsap. For the second time in a fourth quarter, the big did the job on the power forward, including in space. Millsap shot 2-for-9 in the pivotal fourth. Gortat had to face DeMarcus Cousins in a similar situation and the Wizards beat the Kings despite Cousins' 36 points. It took him 34 shots. While Millsap is an All-Star, he's not as big as Cousins or Karl-Anthony Towns who Gortat also defended in similar situations.

-- Markieff Morris briefly at the five. It didn't last long because of foul trouble but he can match up with Dwight Howard as long as there's help defense. When the Wizards fell down 34-27, they soon tied it with a 7-0 run and Morris appeared for the tail end of the spurt. Howard didn't create any damage in the matchup. Morris did pick up his third foul and had to go to the bench but Gortat had returned to the game by then. That foul on Howard came on help and not 1 vs. 1. If Morris can avoid foul trouble, this can be a matchup that bears fruit. In Game 1, Howard was caught defending Morris away from the rim and was faced up off the dribble and he had to be taken off the floor.   

-- Wing action between Beal and Otto Porter. The two best three-point shooters on the team only need a slither of space to get off a high-percentage look from deep. Porter got two of them to start the third quarter. Beal and Bojan Bogdanovic had some in the fourth that produced Gortat's only field goal as the defense was preoccupied with them off the ball and didn't recongize Gortat's slip to the rim on Wall's drive. 

-- Kelly Oubre's ball pressure. It was disruptive in the fourth on the wing as he was used there instead of on the ball with Schroder. Tim Hardaway, Taurean Prince and Kent Bazemore combined to shoot 3-for-18 from the arc. Oubre finding his way onto Schroder could be coming in Game 6 to slow down the hot-handed point guard who made 5 of 6 three-pointers.

[RELATED: Wall's cape makes strong case for wildest outfit of playoffs]