John Wall returns, Wizards get win over Hawks

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John Wall made his long awaited season debut on Saturday, scoring 14 points and dishing out four assists in 21 minutes off the bench to help the Wizards to a 93-83 win over the Atlanta Hawks.

Washington notched just its sixth win in 34 tries on the season, but the vibe around the team may start to change a little with Wall back in the fold.

He’s unquestionably the team’s best player when healthy, and showed flashes at times in his first game back, even if the results weren’t always necessarily evident.

Brian Jackson of CSNWashington had some instant analysis of Wall’s performance:

One thing is for certain, Wall has his explosion back but was rusty as expected after missing the first 33 games of the season. In the first half there were several occasions where Wall got into the paint but was unable to finish near the basket. But he proved to be a quick study scoring nine of his 14 points in the 2nd half.

From the Wizards front office to the fans sitting in the 400 section of Verizon Center everyone has been waiting to see what a Wall and Bradley Beal backcourt will look like. We got a brief glimpse in the first half when Wall found Beal on the fast break for a tomahawk slam. Later in the 2nd half Wall found Beal in the corner for an open three-pointer.

We all knew this would be a season of rebuilding in Washington. Wall’s return does nothing to change that, but it does add some excitement to the mix.

Put simply, Wall represents the future in Washington. And seeing him back on the court healthy for the first time all year might actually give Wizards fans a reason to follow their team closely for the rest of the season.

Mavericks’ rookie guard Dennis Smith Jr. misses game with knee swelling

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DALLAS (AP) — Dallas Mavericks rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. missed Friday’s game against the Sacramento Kings with swelling in his left knee.

Smith, the ninth pick in the NBA draft out of North Carolina State, had 16 points and 10 assists in the Mavericks’ season-opening loss to the Atlanta Hawks.

Smith participated in the Mavericks’ shootaround on Friday morning and was a late scratch. It is not known if Smith will play Saturday for Dallas.

The Mavericks were also missing guard Devin Harris, who was granted leave of absence after his brother died on Thursday.

Watch Lonzo Ball’s 29 point, 11 rebound, 9 assist game Friday night

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This was more of what fans expected from Lonzo Ball.

After a rough first game against the Clippers — with Patrick Beverley in his face all night — Ball found plenty of room to operate against the soft defense of the Phoenix Suns. With room to operate Ball had 29 points, 11 rebounds, and nine assists — just one assist short of a triple-double. He helped the Lakers pull away to a lead in the third then hold on for a 132-130 win over the Suns.

Ball wasn’t terribly efficient, 12-of-27 shooting, but he was 4-of-9 from three, he played with great pace, he was decisive, and was finding guys with his passes. It was a step forward, even if it was against a sad defense (Eric Bledsoe can be a good defender, but he has seemed disinterested in recent years).

Ball and the Lakers are going to be up and down this season, the goal is for there to be more ups near the end of the season.

LeBron James rejects Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim

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Through the first couple games of the season, Giannis Antetokounmpo has put up impressive numbers — he dropped 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists on the Cavaliers Friday night.

But the Cavaliers still have LeBron James.

He had 24 points and 8 assists, leading Cleveland to the win.

LeBron also reminded the Greek Freak just how good a rim protector he is. Few people can slow Antetokounmpo on the drive, but LeBron is one of them.

Is it too early to root for a Cavs vs. Bucks playoff series?

Hawks’ DeAndre’ Bembry out with fractured wrist

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In their season opener Wednesday, Atlanta second-year man DeAndre’ Bembry came off the bench and played 17:45, scored six points and was +13 on the night. It was a good start to his career.

But now he is going to miss some time with a fractured wrist.

Bembry underwent an MRI, which revealed a fracture in his right wrist, the Hawks announced Friday. He will return to Atlanta with the team (the Hawks lost to the Hornets Friday night) and will meet with team doctors at the Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center on Monday. His status will be updated after that.

“We just may play some other guys more, we may use some of the young guys,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer told the AP before Friday night’s game. “We’ll just figure it out tonight and as we move forward. I don’t think there’s anything guaranteed for anybody, it’s unfortunate for DeAndre’ and for us.”