John Wall leads Wizards to 5th straight win, 117-102 over Hawks

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ATLANTA — Jawing incessantly and playing with plenty of bravado, the Washington Wizards hardly look like a .500 team.

John Wall is certainly doing his part to lift them to the playoffs.

Wall scored 27 points and dished out 14 assists, while Bradley Beal chipped in with 25 points to lead another dazzling offensive display for the surging Wizards, who cooled off the Atlanta Hawks with a 117-102 victory Monday night.

Washington won its season-high fifth in a row, getting back to .500 and staying in the hunt for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, while snapping Atlanta’s five-game winning streak.

“This probably is the best stretch we’ve ever played, to be honest,” Wall said.

He’ll get no argument from the Hawks. Wall posted his 43rd double-double of the season, darting through an Atlanta defense that had little chance of stopping him inside or out.

He finished 3-of-5 from 3-point range and set up plenty of open jumpers for his teammates, including Beal, who missed only once in six attempts beyond the arc.

Overall, the Wizards shot nearly 51 percent from the field, knocked down 13-of-25 from 3-point range and got double-figure scoring from every starter. Otto Porter had 16 points and 10 rebounds.

“I kind of got into a rhythm and we got some defensive stops,” said Wall, who is averaging 22.2 points and 12.4 assists over the past five games. “We didn’t turn the ball over a lot.”

Indeed, the Wizards had just nine turnovers – a far cry from the season-high 25 they committed in their first meeting against the Hawks back in November, a 114-99 loss.

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The Hawks had won eight of their past nine games, pushing to 12 games above .500 for the first time and finally showing the form that carried them to the best record in the Eastern Conference a year ago.

But this was a step back for a team that has struggled to find the consistency it showed last season.

“It wasn’t one of our better nights,” coach Mike Budenholzer said. “I’m sure they had a lot to do with that.”

Jeff Teague led the Hawks with 23 points. Atlanta kept up with the Wizards over the first three quarters, only to struggle offensively in the final period. Atlanta made just 7 of 16 shots, missed all five of its attempts beyond the arc, and turned it over five times.

“They were very aggressive,” Hawks center Al Horford said. “They were all over us, a lot of pressure.”

Washington remained 1 1/2 games out of the final playoff spot in the East after Chicago and Milwaukee both won. Still, the Wizards are feeling a lot better about their chances.

“We know our backs are against the wall with what we’re trying to accomplish,” Wall said. “We’ve just got to keep grinding and competing.”


Atlanta guard Dennis Schroder had a scare in the final period when he went down hard attempting to drive to the basket, tweaking his left ankle.

As Schroder rubbed his ankle and two teammates reached down to help him up, the Wizards quickly inbounded the ball and forced Atlanta to foul at the other end to get a stoppage.

The Atlanta bench leaped up in unison to complain, while Schroder finally was able to hobble to the bench. He was not believed to be seriously hurt.

“By the letter of the law, the letter of the rule, the referee doesn’t have to stop play when a player is injured,” Budenholzer said. “But it just doesn’t seem like it’s in the spirit of the sport, to make people keep playing when a guy is down.”


Wizards: Averaging 110.6 points a game during its winning streak. … Washington had three other four-game winning streaks this season. … Marcin Gortat added 15 points and Markieff Morris 14. … Outrebounded the Hawks 44-33.

Hawks: Failed to match its second-longest winning streak of the season. … After two straight games with more than 20 points, Tim Hardaway Jr. had another good night – 16 points and 4-of-5 shooting beyond the arc. … Kyle Korver, on the other hand, took only two shots and finished with three points. “We’ve got a find a way to get Kyle cleaner, more free,” Budenholzer said. … The setback snapped a streak of six straight wins at Philips Arena. … Paul Millsap‘s run of three straight double-doubles ended with 13 points and only two rebounds.


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Buddy Hield fuels 76ers trade rumor

Kings guard Buddy Hield vs. 76ers
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A rumor emerged about the Kings trading Buddy Hield to the 76ers. It didn’t seem particularly credible.

But then Hield himself liked this Instagram post promoting a potential trade and apparently made a pro-Philadelphia comment on Instagram:

Hield previously laid the groundwork for an offseason trade request. He seemed unhappy at times in Sacramento this season, losing his starting job and even riding the bench when the Kings needed a 3-pointer.

The 76ers could use more shooting – especially if they hire Mike D’Antoni. Hield would definitely add value. A lineup where Hield and Josh Richardson defend guards and Ben Simmons plays point guard offensively and defends a frontcourt player is intriguing.

Hield is set to earn $24,931,817 next season in the first year of a four-year extension. That’s in the range of Tobias Harris ($34,358,850) and Al Horford ($27,500,000).

However, Horford’s trade value is at rock bottom. Tobias Harris would add only so much value to Sacramento, which already has Harrison Barnes.

Kings fans can hope for Ben Simmons ($28,750,000) or Joel Embiid ($29,542,010). But those stars are FAR more valuable than Hield. Besides, the 76ers said they wouldn’t trade Simmons or Embiid (though it’s unclear who exactly is running the show in Philadelphia).

Regardless of whether the Kings and 76ers could connect on a trade, Hield making these public gestures is an issue in Sacramento. It’s on new Kings general manager Monte McNair to manage this. After years of supporting Daryl Morey with the Rockets, this is a new challenge – being in charge while a player makes waves – for McNair.

Relatedly, McNair must also handle Bogdan Bogdanovic‘s impending restricted free agency. These look like warning shots from Hield as Sacramento determines its priorities at shooting guard.

Report: Philadelphia ownership wants Mike D’Antoni as next coach

Mike D'Antoni 76ers
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Philadelphia 76ers ownership (led by Josh Harris) reportedly has been very hands-on in picking the team’s new coach — even if that means a new direction for the roster. That hands-on style reportedly why ownership likes Elton Brand as GM and may balk at bringing in a big-name president of basketball operations — that person would want total control of basketball decisions. Right now, ownership is pulling a lot of those levers.

And ownership wants Mike D’Antoni as the next head coach in Philadelphia, reports Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Sources have been saying since last week that the job is D’Antoni’s to turn down. They say he’s the guy the ownership group wants. One source even said the 69-year-old would have to bomb his interview with the Sixers owners not to be offered the job.

The problem is that Brand is supposed to have a huge input on the hire. The ownership is only supposed to approve or deny Brand’s suggestion. Now, word is leaking out that Brand is pushing hard for the Sixers to hire D’Antoni and that Joel Embiid gave his blessing. In addition, there are reports that the Sixers will make trades if D’Antoni is hired. The expectation is that he’ll have a say in picking players for his freewheeling style of play.

With Billy Donovan taking over in Chicago, the list of top candidates for the Philadelphia job seems down to two: Tyronn Lue and Mike D’Antoni. Lue would be the conventional choice, a guy who would try to make it work with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons together, along with Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson, and Al Horford. Roster tweaks would be coming, but with Lue the idea would be making better use of the roster and style the 76ers have already built.

D’Antoni would be a radical change of direction — he is coming from a team that just started 6’7″ Robert Covington at center. The current 76ers roster would need changes to fit with D’Antoni’s freewheeling ways, and even then the coach would need to adapt what he wants to do. (No contract is untradeable, but moving the four-years, $147.2 million left on Harris’ deal, or the three years and $81 million on Horford’s contract, would require Philly to throw in a lot of sweeteners.)

D’Antoni would mean another change of direction in Philly, but that seems to be what ownership wants.

Bam Adebayo on injury: “I’m good,” expects to play in Game 5 Friday

Bam Adebayo injury
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In the final minutes of Miami’s Game 4 win, while Tyler Hero was knocking down shots and Jimmy Butler was getting to the line, Miami‘s Bam Adebayo was dealing with an injury, walking around holding his wrist, his arm dragging. He had gotten tangled up with Daniel Theis under the basket and clearly injured something.

The questions raised post game were about what happened, how serious it was, and could Adebayo be out for Game 5 on Friday? There was nothing official from the team but it looks like he will play, according to Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press and Ira Winderman of the Sun-Sentinel.

Adebayo had 20 points and 12 rebounds in Game 4, and his play is critical to Miami’s game plan against Boston. His ability to protect the rim at one end, then come out high to set screens and pull Theis out of the paint on the other end, is at the heart of what the Heat want to do in this series. If he is even slowed in Game 5 it is an advantage for Boston.

This time of year, and with the Heat one game away from the NBA Finals, no chance he sits if he can at all play.

LeBron James: Neighbor’s walls, not Breonna Taylor, got justice

Lakers star LeBron James
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Louisville police officers were not charged with killing Breonna Taylor. However, former officer Brett Hankison was charged with first-degree wanton endangerment for allegedly firing firing recklessly into nearby apartments during the incident.

That outcome left NBA players unsatisfied.

LeBron James:

The emotions LeBron – and many others – are feeling are completely understandable. This was a tragedy. Faced with an obvious injustice, it’s easy to demand the harshest-imaginable punishment. That didn’t come.

But it is not too late to address the injustices – which were always far larger than the officers at the scene returning fire – at play in Taylor’s death.