Do John Wall and his Wizards have a problem with each other?

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The Wizards won five straight immediately after John Wall was sidelined with a knee injury.

After the third win – a victory over the Raptors in which Washington had 30 assists – Marcin Gortat tweeted:

And Bradley Beal said, via Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington:

“Everybody eats. That’s our motto,” Beal said. “That’s fun basketball. Everybody gets to touch it, everybody gets shots. It makes life easy. It just keeps the locker room close, it keeps our camaraderie going.”

The way Gortat put “team” in quotation marks, the way Beal was talking after a game without the ball-dominant Wall… were they implying something about Wall?

Maybe, maybe not. But Wall quote-tweeted Gortat’s tweet with “Lol”. Though that was deleted, it elevated suspicions.

Beal responded, via Hughes:

“For us to say that we’re a better team without John it’s, like, that’s comical in a sense. Come on, let’s be real,” Beal said.  “The guy’s the head of our franchise, a five-time all-star. Let’s be realistic. I think what benefits us is we figured out how to play without John. Reality is reality… We’re not sitting here saying we’re a better team without him, by no means.”

Beal also noted that he was quoting the movie “Paid in Full,” but that doesn’t affect whether or not he was initially indirectly referring to Wall.

And Wall didn’t rush to push the narrative that Beal’s words had been misinterpreted.

Wall, via NBC Sports Washington:

“It’s funny to hear everybody say, because I’m not playing that they’re getting extra shots or they’re doing extra things. That’s just a laugh and a joke to me,” Wall told NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller on Tuesday.

Wall on his reply to Gortat, which Wall , via ESPN:

I put laugh out loud because it was just the way he put the team – you know what I mean? – the way he put the team in the little exclamation points. And I’m like, “whoa.”

It was more just shocking to hear from him and understanding that he gets the most assists from me and the most spoon-fed baskets ever.

Gortat, via Hughes:

“I talked to him about that a few days ago. I thought we verified that,” Gortat said. “I told him it was nothing personal. I definitely didn’t think about him when I was writing that. I never thought about attacking him.”

Gortat, via Candace Buckner of The Washington Post:

“We talk about team win with 30 assists a game, everybody played for each other. We enjoyed the game,” Gortat continued. “And basically I see that, you know, he felt different way. He felt it was a different way and he came back with that kind of a comment. So, now we got to ask each other questions, who’s attacking who?”

This might have started as a non-issue with Beal and Gortat making innocuous statements that were misinterpreted. They also might have been taking shots at Wall.

Either way, the disconnect – especially with Gortat – seems to be escalating as Wall takes offense and shoots back. (Yes, Gortat needs most of his baskets set up, and Wall does that more than anyone.) Now, Gortat feels attacked, and everything snowballs. For what it’s worth, Beal keeps reiterating Washington is better with Wall.

Still, repeated sagas like this are why people think Wall’s teammates dislike him.

Take a step back with facts: The Wizards averaged 32 assists per game in this five-game win streak without Wall. That’s well above their 24 assists per game when Wall plays. However, they’ve averaged 22 assists per game in 12 other games without Wall, including a loss to the 76ers yesterday.

Don’t overreact to a small sample, and that caution extends to players within Washington’s locker room.

Yes, playing without Wall can be freeing. The offense becomes more equalitarian, everyone participating in facilitating. When Wall plays, so much runs through him. But he can break down defenses far better than anyone else on the roster, and that skill is sometimes necessary. It’s hard for a team to survive just on lesser players keeping the ball moving, even if it works against some opponents some nights.

Will Chris Paul play in Game 7?

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The way Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry were shooting it probably wouldn’t have changed the outcome of Game 6, but the Houston Rockets missed Chris Paul. They missed his steadying influence on offense, and maybe more importantly on defense — Curry was directing the offense, creating space with his handles then finding people cutting off the ball and draining threes. Paul may have been able to help keep Curry in relative check.

Which all leads to this big question: Will Paul suit up and play in Game 7.

Doesn’t sound like it.

I would describe the mood of sources I spoke to on this issues as pessimistic on CP3’s chances of play.

If Paul can at all go, he will. Three years ago Paul played through a hamstring injury to lead the Clippers past the Spurs, he’ll want to do it again.

This is different. For one thing, Paul is older now, his body will not bounc he is at all limited with his movement the Warriors will target him with Curry and Klay Thompson, try to get CP3 moving laterally and exploiting him. It might now work to put him out there.

But if he can go, D’Antoni will try.

Watch best of Klay Thompson’s nine threes, 35-point night

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Stephen Curry is a better shooter. Kevin Durant is a better scorer with a bigger toolbox.

But no Warrior can get as white-hot as Klay Thompson.

He did that on Saturday night helping the Warriors to a Game 6 win, getting his rhythm and becoming a scoring machine in the second half, finishing with 35 points including hitting 9-of-14 from three, and having six rebounds. He was just as important on the other end of the floor.

“I thought Klay was amazing tonight, not just for 35 points and the nine threes, but his defense,” Coach Steve Kerr said. “The guy’s a machine. He’s just so fit physically. He seems to thrive in these situations. But he was fantastic.”

Thompson will need to bring some of that Heat in Game 7 on the road if the Warriors are going to head back to the NBA Finals.

Backs against wall down 17, Warriors crank up defense, rain threes, force Game 7

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Warriors’ fans have been asking one question since the season tipped off in October:

What is it going to take to get Golden State to truly focus and play up to their potential?

Apparently, the answer is going down 17 to the Houston Rockets in a playoff elimination game.

Houston entered Oracle Saturday night playing smart and with energy, defending as they had the previous two games and then turning that into transition buckets and threes — eight of them in the first quarter. Houston was up 17 in the first and 10 at the half.

However, Golden State had started to defend better in the second quarter and they cranked up the intensity to the level fans had hoped to see in the second half — Houston scored 39 points in the first quarter and 47 combined in the final three. The Warriors were also forcing turnovers, 21.3 percent of Rockets possessions ended with a turnover (more than one in five trips down the court). Houston had 25 points in the second half and shot 2-of-9 from three in the third quarter.

At the same time, Klay Thompson led an onslaught of threes for Golden State (Thompson had 9 threes on the night). The Warriors defense turned into offense.

The result was a dramatic turnaround and a 115-86 Golden State win, tying the Western Conference Finals at 3-3.

Game 7 is in Houston Monday night. Winner advances to the NBA Finals.

“Effort. Intensity. Passion,” Thompson said of the Warriors’ second-half surge. “When we do that, and we rotate, and we help each other we’re the best defensive team in the league.”

While it was their defense that sparked everything, the Warriors also found an offense that worked against the Rockets’ switching defense — more Stephen Curry with the ball in his hands. There are a few ways to counter a switching defense and one is a creative ballhandler who can still make plays — not just isolation plays, but who can create a little space and find guys moving off the ball despite the pressure. Curry was that guy, he was the Warriors best all-around player on the night. He had a high IQ game and added 29 points. With the offense not running through Kevin Durant isolations, it just flowed better (the Warriors best lineup of the night was Curry, Thompson, Draymond Green, Shaun Livingston, and Nick Young, +13 in just more than eight minutes).

It just took a lot of pressure from a Rockets team to get Golden State into that mental frame of mind.

Houston opened this game with the same defensive energy they had the last two games, and once again it flustered the Golden State offense. Except, this time the Rockets did a much better job of turning those misses and turnovers into transition points (the Rockets averaged two points per possession on the break in the first half). Throw in some terrible defensive communication errors by the Warriors, and the Rockets were raining threes in the first half — 11-of-22, with Gordon going 4-of-4.

The Warriors had some success with an ultra-small lineup that unleashed Curry, but as soon as non-shooters were on the floor — Kevon Looney, Jordon Bell, and the Rockets were daring Draymond Green and Shaun Livingston to shoot — Houston shrunk the floor and took away passing lanes, plus contested every shot.

In the second half, the Warriors used that Curry energy and hit their threes to pull away. The Warriors were at their best with Bell as the fifth man with the four All-Stars, he brought an energy and athleticism that made things flow on both ends. Don’t be shocked if he starts Game 7 for Golden State.

If the Warriors pack up that second half energy with them and take it to Houston, there is not much the Rockets will be able to do. But do not expect these gritty, feisty Rockets to go quietly into that good night.

Rockets were draining threes in the first half against Warriors in Game 6

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The Rockets were feeling it the first half in Game 6.

Playing with an energy the Warriors lacked at least in the first quarter), Houston defended well, pushed the ball in transition, and then they just drained three after three after three.

Eric Gordon started 4-of-4 from three and the team was 11-of-22 in the first half, which made up for the 11 turnovers and had them up 17 at one point and ahead by 10 after the first half.