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How Denzel Valentine's antics turned John Wall into 'a monster' in Wizards win

How Denzel Valentine's antics turned John Wall into 'a monster' in Wizards win

If there is such a thing as a rookie mistake, Denzel Valentine made it Tuesday. He'd drained a three-pointer en route to his career-high 19 points for the Chicago Bulls, but he celebrated a little too much with too much time on the clock for John Wall's taste. The three-time All-Star offered some advice during the timeout that would come back to haunt the rookie.

"I play with a lot of emotion just like him. I understand where he's coming from," said Wall, who had game highs of 26 points and 14 assists, including the game-winning jumper, for the Wizards to get them over .500 for the first time since November 2015. "I just said, 'Don't celebrate this early.  You're a rookie. You haven't earned those stripes yet.' I told him, 'That's how you feel? You woke up a monster.' I just went on a scoring spree."

The Wizards trailed 92-85 with 7:38 left on Valentine's shot. The Bulls, who'd blown an 18-point lead, trailed 81-77 entering the fourth and appeared headed to an upset when Valentine's three forced a timeout.

Then Markieff Morris started a 10-0 run with consecutive three-pointers and Wall drained a fallaway jumper to cut the deficit to 93-92. Morris' putback of Wall's missed layup put the Wizards back on top, but after Robin Lopez's free throws Chicago was ahead 99-97. While Valentine only could watch, it was Wall's time to close out the game. 

The Bulls did their best to close off the paint, commtting mutiple help defenders to prevent Wall's dribble penetration for most of the game which had much to do with why he didn't attempt a shot in the first quarter.

So Wall began to take what the defense gave him. Out of a timeout, Wall found himself defended by Lopez on a switch while Rajon Rondo was mismatched in the low post with Marcin Gortat. The passing angle wasn't there for an entry pass so Wall got his rhythm on the bounce and pulled up for the tying shot with 47.4 seconds left over Lopez. He won it on the Wizards' bread-and-butter play -- the side pick-and-roll with Gortat.

Gortat screened Michael Carter-Williams which left Wall in space vs. the slow-footed Lopez who gave him the room to square up on the baseline with 5.9 seconds on the clock to give the Wizards (19-18) their 10th consecutive win at Verizon Center.

MORE WIZARDS: 10 MOST MEMORABLE NBA JERSEYS SINCE 2000

"He's a winner," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "That is the bottom line. ... I thought he made the right play on shooting that. If they were going to jump out at him, the pass was the right play. It's not who makes the last shot. It's who makes the right play."

Valentine made 4 of 5 threes in the first half to spark Chicago to a 61-49 lead but they collectively shot 0-for-9 from deep in the third quarter. Valentine was 1-for-6 from three in the second half, his make coming on the celebration that pushed Wall to another level for the finish. 

"I still had a decent second half, but probably could have made a couple more plays down the stretch but credit to them," Valentine said. "They turned it up. ... John Wall did what he was supposed to do."

Wall's heroics rescued the Wizards -- again -- from a disaster playing against a team that didn't have its best player, Jimmy Butler (illness), its veteran shooting guard Dwyane Wade (scheduled rest) and best bench scoring big in Nikola Mirotic (illness). They had to erase a 12-point deficit on Sunday to beat the Milwaukee Bucks who were without Giannis Antetokounmpo. 

Wall logged 40 minutes and made 11 of 21 shots to go with six rebounds. When Wall is putting the ball on the floor and going to his right, which the Bulls allowed, he's at his best on the pull-ups. 

"They were back far so I couldn't hit my big, Marcin, rolling (to the rim)," Wall said of how the Bulls defended him. "I was able to get the ball in transition and knock down that shot."

The Wizards lead the season series 2-1 with Chicago, have won theirs 3-1 with Milwaukee, are 1-1 with the Indiana Pacers and hold 1-0 edges vs. the Boston Celtics, New York Knicks and Charlotte Hornets. 

To beat the Celtics in the second game of a back-to-back Wednesday at TD Garden, they'll likely need more than Wall. 

Valentine probably had enough of him.

"Nah," Wall said when asked if he had any parting words for his foe at the final buzzer. "Didn't have to."

[RELATED: John Wall, Scott Brooks weigh in on game-winning shot]

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Wizards 2017-18 roster outlook: Mike Scott can add toughness to Wizards' bench

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Wizards 2017-18 roster outlook: Mike Scott can add toughness to Wizards' bench

As part of CSN's preview for the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we preview Mike Scott's season...

Player: Mike Scott

Position: Power forward

Age: 29

2016-17 stats: 18 G, 10.8 mpg, 2.5 ppg, 0.9 apg, 2.1 rpg, 0.2 spg, 0.2 bpg, 28.8 FG%,14.8 3P%, 87.5 FT%, 32.2 eFG%, 85 ORtg, 108 DRtg

2017-18 storyline: Much like Jodie Meeks, Scott represents a low-risk, potentially high-reward option for the Wizards bench as a guy who was once a very good player before his career veered off track due to injuries. Scott's problems in 2016-17 dealt with his left knee. He didn't make his season debut until Nov. 30 and played just eight games before Jan. 16. By then the Hawks were in midseason form and Scott never gained his footing. They traded him to the Suns in Feb. and he was later cut from the team.

Scott joined the Wizards on a one-year deal this summer hoping to hit the restart button with what is technically his local team. Scott grew up in Chesapeake, Va. and went to the University of Virginia where he starred under head coach Tony Bennett. Scott remains a big Redskins fan.

[RELATED: HOW THE NBA CAN PREVENT TANKING]

Scott has the potential to be a key rotation piece for the Wizards, if he can reclaim his form from a few years ago. At his peak in Atlanta, Scott was a hard-nosed defender who could score sparingly but with efficiency. He has even proven able to stretch the floor with a solid three-point percentage. He shot 39.2 percent from three on 2.1 attempts per game in 2015-16.

Scott is slated to be a backup behind Markieff Morris and Otto Porter and will compete for minutes with Kelly Oubre, Jr. and Jason Smith. The Wizards would love to see him add toughness and defensive awareness to their second unit, much like Morris does for the starting lineup. If he can stay healthy and provide those things, Scott will turn from a reclamation project into a diamond in the rough.

Potential to improve: Availability, rebounding, versatility.

MORE WIZARDS' ROSTER PREVIEWS:

Can John Wall take another step after earning All-NBA?

Is this the year Bradley Beal becomes an All-Star?

What is the next step in Otto Porter's development?

Markieff Morris can be an X-factor this season

Will Marcin Gortat's role change or be the same this year?

Will Kelly Oubre, Jr. make a big leap this season?

Can Ian Mahinmi make a bigger impact in his second season?

Will Tim Frazier be the solution at backup point guard?

Jodie Meeks could make big impact off bench

[RELATED: WHO WILL BE MOST-IMPROVED ON THE WIZARDS THIS YEAR?]

SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE WIZARDS STORIES

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Wizards 2017-18 roster outlook: Jodie Meeks could make major difference on bench

Wizards 2017-18 roster outlook: Jodie Meeks could make major difference on bench

As part of CSN's preview for the 2017-18 season, we are looking at each player on the Wizards' roster. Today, we preview Jodie Meeks' season...

Player: Jodie Meeks

Position: Shooting guard

Age: 30

2016-17 stats: 36 G, 20.5 mpg, 9.1 ppg, 1.3 apg, 2.1 rpg, 0.9 spg, 0.1 bpg, 40.2 FG%, 40.9 3P%, 87.8 FT%, 51.2 eFG%, 107 ORtg, 111 DRtg

2017-18 storyline: The Wizards' problems at backup shooting guard weren't quite as pronounced as their backup point guard situation in 2016-17 because they weren't forced to bring in someone off the free agent wire. But they certainly could have used some better production behind Bradley Beal, as head coach Scott Brooks was often forced to spell Beal with creative lineups featuring no natural shooting guards.

In Meeks, the Wizards hope to have a stable presence at the position, someone who can provide a scoring punch off the bench and allow Brooks to mix-and-match his guards. Meeks, in theory, could run with backup point guard Tim Frazier, starting point guard John Wall, Tomas Satoransky or even Beal, who has made strides in his ball-handling skills enough to play sparingly at point guard.

[RELATED: HOW THE NBA CAN PREVENT TANKING]

In order for Meeks to fill the role the Wizards expect of him, he will need to first prove he can overcome the injuries that have plagued him the past three seasons. Meeks appeared in just 39 total games the past two years and an average of 33 games in the last three. The Wizards need him to play much more than that, obviously. But in signing Meeks, they hope to get high reward out of a low-risk contract.

Meeks' primary value if healthy will be as a three-point threat in the second unit. Offense is his calling card and in recent years he's shown the ability to hit threes efficiently and at high volume. In 36 games with the Magic last year, he hit 40.9 percent on 3.8 attempts per game. In his last full season that wasn't affected by injuries, 2013-14 when he was with the Lakers, Meeks shot 40.1 percent from long range on 5.2 attempts per game. Now he's playing for a good team with two good passing point guards to set him up. 

Potential to improve: Availablity, on-ball defense, field-goal percentage.

MORE WIZARDS' ROSTER PREVIEWS:

Can John Wall take another step after earning All-NBA?

Is this the year Bradley Beal becomes an All-Star?

What is the next step in Otto Porter's development?

Markieff Morris can be an X-factor this season

Will Marcin Gortat's role change or be the same this year?

Will Kelly Oubre, Jr. make a big leap this season?

Can Ian Mahinmi make a bigger impact in his second season?

Will Tim Frazier be the solution at backup point guard?

[RELATED: WHO WILL BE MOST-IMPROVED ON THE WIZARDS THIS YEAR?]

SCROLL DOWN FOR MORE WIZARDS STORIES