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Wizards hope for better start against Celtics than they had vs. Bulls

Wizards hope for better start against Celtics than they had vs. Bulls

The Wizards' 101-99 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night extended their home winning streak to 10 games and pushed them past the .500 mark for the first time this season, yet in many ways it wasn't pretty. It was a win, but also a learning lesson moving forward.

They were playing a Bulls team that was missing its two best players in Jimmy Butler (illness) and Dwyane Wade (rest), as well as one of its best bench scorers in Nikola Mirotic (illness). Still, the Bulls were able to hold a double-digit lead at the end of the first quarter (36-26) and at halftime (61-49). The NBA's worst three-point shooting team, Chicago hit 8-of-10 from long range in the first half. Rookie Denzel Valentine set a career-high by halftime with 14 points.

It was not an ideal start by any stretch.

"We figured Jimmy [Butler] wasn’t playing, D-Wade wasn’t playing, the game was going to be easy," guard Bradley Beal said. "Those games are probably the hardest ones to play in. We just have to do a better job of locking in, but a win is a win at the end of the day."

"They're still NBA players. I think in the first half we disrespected them, and laid down," forward Markieff Morris said. "They had thirty-six in the first quarter, like I said without their two best players, and that's unacceptable." 

Morris went on to describe the first half as "horrible." Head coach Scott Brooks used the word "exhausting" in his assessment. The game ultimately resulted in a win, but what happened on Tuesday night has hurt them before.

On Sunday in Milwaukee, they barely beat the Bucks despite Giannis Antetokounmpo not playing. Seven times this year have they allowed at least 60 points in the first half, including to struggling teams like the Heat, Nets, Mavericks and Magic. They are 2-5 in those games. The Wizards, in fact, are 2-12 in games they allow 57 points or more in the first half.

In order to win a game after giving up so much in the first two quarters, much has to change in the second half, like on Tuesday when they held the Bulls to just 38 total points in the third and fourth quarters. Chicago shot just 2-of-17 from three in the second half, including 0-for-9 in the third quarter.

"They were just too comfortable. In the first half, we just allowed them to do whatever they wanted. They were freelancing, getting to the basket, knocking down threes, getting comfortable," Beal said. "In the second half we just wanted to pressure them [and] make them play our style of game, and force them to play our hand."

The Wizards now move on to Boston to face the Celtics on Wednesday night in the second game of a back-to-back set. The Wizards are 1-6 in those scenarios this season.

"Boston's a good team. If we play like this, it will be hard to win," Brooks said.

[RELATED: Wall to Bulls' Valentine: 'You woke a monster']

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Wizards 2017-18 roster outlook: Can Daniel Ochefu earn playing time in a crowded frontcourt?

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USA Today Sports

Wizards 2017-18 roster outlook: Can Daniel Ochefu earn playing time in a crowded frontcourt?

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

Player: Daniel Ochefu

Position: Center

Age: 23

2016-17 stats: 19 G, 3.9 mpg, 1.3 ppg, 0.2 apg, 1.2 rpg, 0.1 spg, 0.0 bpg, 44.4 FG%, 00.0 3P%, 00.0 FT%, 44.4 eFG%, 91 ORtg, 108 DRtg

2017-18 storyline: Ochefu was no different than the other Wizards' rookies in that he didn't get much playing time at all in 2016-17. Even with Ian Mahinmi missing 51 games, Ochefu rarely saw the floor. Head coach Scott Brooks instead opted for Jason Smith to play extensive minutes in Mahinmi's absence and relied on Marcin Gortat to carry the load.

Injuries or not, that was to be expected for Ochefu, who signed with the Wizards as an undrafted free agent out of Villanova. After holding no picks in the 2016 draft, the Wizards saw enough promise in Ochefu to sign him and stash him on the back of their roster as a prospect.

[RELATED: HOW THE NBA CAN PREVENT TANKING]

The Wizards see potential in Ochefu especially on the defensive end. He was never a big scorer in college, but was essential to Villanova's national championship team as a rebounder and rim protector.

Ochefu will probably have a hard time seeing the floor again this season with the same frontcourt returning. If Mahinmi plays more this year, that even further soldifies Ochefu's role as a third or fourth string guy. And like Sheldon Mac, Ochefu's contract isn't fully guaranteed unless he's still on the roster in January.

Potential to improve: Rim protection, post moves, consistency.

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

Mike Scott can add toughness to Wizards' bench

Jason Smith's improvement as a shooter should help Wizards bench

Will Tomas Satoransky's role expand in his second year?

Will Sheldon Mac be given a bigger opportunity?

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

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Holding back tears, John Wall thanks his mom in Kentucky HOF speech

Holding back tears, John Wall thanks his mom in Kentucky HOF speech

On Friday evening, John Wall was inducted to the Kentucky Hall-of-Fame, but it was not the memories of Wall's historic time at the University of Kentucky that was the theme of the night.

Rather it was Wall's speech and when he gave a tear-jerking section of it talking about his mom. 

“And last but not least – can you stand up – can ya’ll give recognition to my mom, Frances Pully.”

**pauses for applause**

“I hope she don’t cry and I told her I wouldn’t cry but it might get a little difficult tonight. Ummm, I just want to thank yo-“ pasues to hold back tears. “I want to say thank you for being my mom.

"I know it’s tough growing up with me and my two sisters, seeing my dad go to jail at a young age. You sacrificing everything. I’ve seen you pick me up to school, take me to school, and only pick me up from school. I always wondered what it feel like to be able to do things for my mom, I never had the chance. You know uh, you always told me, when I was sixteen you said, you know Iwas a hard-headed kid, I know you used to hate when I was in kindergarten. You had to sit in the parking a lot of the time because I could never stay in school for more than in 30 minutes, I was always getting kicked out. And she had to drive 45 minutes to take me to school.”

“Then all of a sudden, I started playing AAU basketball. I meet one of my close friends D.J., we call him Grizzly, and she would miss a lot tournaments but she would sacrifice sometimes not paying the light bill just so I could to go play basketball. Then when I was sixteen-years-old, I kept getting in trouble, she took basketball away from me.  She said, ‘you could go down the same road as your daddy, your brothers or you could be somebody special and change our families lives.’ And that is when I want to thank Coach Cal. My senior year I got a breaking and entering charge, just doing some dumb stuff to a kid that had an opportunity to go college. And one of the first people that came down there in 24 hours was Coach Cal. And he said, ‘listen you’re coming to school, I’m getting you away from here.’ And a lot of coaches would have ran from that they wouldn’t have believed on me, they would have gave up on me. And see what I did, see what I accomplished, and the person I have became, I couldn’t thank nobody else.”

“I want to thank you mom for being who you are, being a strong, powerful woman, having that gritty attitude that some people look at me and see in my face and they say ‘Well John Wall is not approachable.’ Well I get it from my mom. And I’m cool with that because when you really get to know me I’m really a loyal person, I’m a family person. And I just want to thank you for being my mom. I wouldn’t ask for nobody else in this world to be my mom. I hope whoever I marry, whoever the mom to my kid, they can be just as strong as you is [sic] and just as powerful."

To see this section of his speech, click the video at the top of the page.

RELATED VIDEO: JOHN WALL'S FULL KENTUCKY HOF SPEECH

Once Wall's moment was over, he broke out his legendary Kentucky jersey, a little tighter than from eight years ago.

"It feels good to put this back on one more time too."

Before he left the stage and the night was done, he entertained with his famous, arm-flexing John Wall dance.