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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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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.