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Morning tip: Sheldon McClellan earns trust of Wizards' coaching staff

Morning tip: Sheldon McClellan earns trust of Wizards' coaching staff

The first time vs. the Chicago Bulls, Sheldon McClellan started out of necessity because the Wizards were without John Wall and Bradley Beal. It was far quicker than coach Scott Brooks anticipated, or even wanted, to play the rookie but now that he's earning rotation minutes the message has gotten through. 

McClellan has had a small but significant impact on the Wizards' last two wins. He's gotten the call off the bench instead of veteran Marcus Thornton and there doesn't appear to be a reason to go back. 

“I like what Sheldon has been able to do. He plays hard," Brooks said. "When you play hard it gives you a chance to stay on the court and make good things happen for your team. I think he does that. He has that play-hard gene that I like. It helps him. Last game I thought he had some big moments. He hit a couple big shots. He just didn’t rely on the jump shot. He went to the basket. He’s a talented player. I think he’s getting better as the season goes on.”

It was in a Nov. 16 loss at the Philadelphia 76ers when McClellan quickly slipped into Brooks' doghouse. The Wizards fell 109-102 and McClellan started with Beal out with a hamstring strain and Wall on a minutes restriction. He missed two open three-point shots badly and picked up a charging foul with the Wizards in striking distance. But that's not why McClellan didn't make an apperance in 16 of the next 17 games. In the one game he did play, it was one minute of mop-up duty. 

The Wizards were 2-8 after that loss to the Sixers, but McClellan learned his lesson from the "players' coach" in Brooks, who is far more stern than some recognize. He showed McClellan what he did wrong.

“It’s film and seeing how hard I play and how hard I run to my spots. Just the little things that help me stay on the court," McClellan said. "I remember one game in Philly coach told me I was playing so cool and I got backdoored. I didn’t play for like 10 games. Ever since then, now when I get on the court, I think about that game and I just try to compete as hard as I can to earn myself a couple more games.

“It was just my body language. The way I look sometimes. It’s something I’m still working on. I just want to look engaged at all times."

McClellan averaged 16.3 points per game as a senior at Miami. He got up his share of shots and never averaged more than 1.9 assists in college, including his first two seasons with Texas. 

"You go from college where you can make a lot of mistakes and still stay in a game, you know you’re not coming out," McClellan said. "I don’t have to hunt for shots anymore. They come. They don’t? You just make the right read."

The Wizards entered the fourth quarter vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves last week down 85-80. A 9-0 run helped them regain the lead as McClellan passed up shots to get Kelly Oubre a three-pointer and Jason Smith a mid-range jumper. In Sunday's win at the Milwaukee Bucks, it was a stepback jumper, a steal and a three-point play conversion to push the lead to 89-83 in the fourth. McClellan then took a charge from Jabari Parker that gave the Wizards an extra possession that led to Markieff Morris' jumper for an eight-point lead. 

As long as he keeps this up, Thornton, who hasn't played in either of the last two games, will find it tough getting back on the court. Thornton takes too many risks on defense and gets caught out of position on screen-action. He also requires taking shots to be effective, and that sometimes will mean less for Oubre and Smith.

McClellan's recent play can help bridge that gap to fortify an inconsistent second unit.  

"I love passing the ball. Just come down and making the right basketball play, making that extra pass from a good shot to a great shot. That’s what I’m doing," McClellan said. "Do the small things to stay on the court."

[RELATED: State of the Wizards: Aiming for a winning record]

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NBA concludes Wizards assistant should've been given tech but Knicks benefit from no-calls, too

NBA concludes Wizards assistant should've been given tech but Knicks benefit from no-calls, too

The 113-110 win over the New York Knicks might've ended differently for the Wizards if game officials had assessed a technical foul for assistant coach Sidney Lowe with 7.6 seconds left, according to the last-two minute report released Friday.

The Knicks inbounded the ball to Carmelo Anthony wtih 13.7 seconds left and were attempting to send the game into overtime. As Anthony drove on Markieff Morris, he kicked to Courtney Lee for a three-pointer in the corner. Kelly Oubre was closing him out strong and the play broke down.

They didn't end up getting off a shot as Brandon Jennings turned over the ball and Bradley Beal ran out the clock. John Wall did not foul Jennings on the strip of the ball.

According to the L2M report, it was an incorrect no-call by the officiating crew of Brent Barnaky, Bill Kennedy and Gary Zielinski. Lowe was standing to the left of Barnaky as the play unfoled in front of Washington's bench. 

The league also concluded that Lee picked up his pivot foot on his move and it should've been ruled a traveling violation and that at 1:44 Anthony camped out in the lane more than three seconds when defended by Oubre. Instead, Anthony was able to get an offensive rebound on the play amd draw a foul. He made 1 of 2 foul shots because of the oversight to trim the Wizards' lead to 109-108.

When Wall grabbed a rebound of Anthony's miss with the Wizards up 111-110, he took the rebound and went end-to-end for a dunk that shouldn't have counted. The reason? Wall, who has been dealing with a right pinkie injury and a bad left wrist, touched the ball with both hands on the final dribble before he elevated to dunk. In real time and depending on the camera angle, it's difficult to pick up in real time. 

UPDATE:

Fines are immiment.

The NBA has handed out fines following the incidents.

MORE WIZARDS: Wizards clicking on all cylinders under Scott Brooks

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NBA All-Star Game 2017: Lots of NBA players didn't vote for LeBron or Durant for All-Star Game

NBA All-Star Game 2017: Lots of NBA players didn't vote for LeBron or Durant for All-Star Game

For the first time in NBA history, current players were allowed to cast their votes for the all-star game, and their votes accounted for 25 percent of the total vote.

You would think that just about every player in the league would mark LeBron James or Kevin Durant's name on their 2017 NBA All-Star Game ballot, as both are former MVPs still in their prime. But incredibly out of the 324 players who voted, 128 players didn't vote for James, and 154 players didn't vote for Durant. 

They both ended up making it, but Thunder star Russell Westbrook was beaten out for a spot in the Western Conference starting lineup by guards Steph Curry from the Golden State Warriors and James Harden of the Houston Rockets. The West starting lineup is rounded out by Warriors forward Durant, Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard and Pelicans forward Anthony Davis. 

Westbrook being left out of the starting lineup caused plenty of reaction from fellow athletes: 

Here's to hoping that Westbrook goes off for a triple-double in the all-star game off the bench to stick it to those who didn't think he should be a starter. 

[RELATED: Wall hopeful about being all-star for fourth time]