NBA

Wizards' Wall aims for Saturday return

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WASHINGTON (AP)

Playing for the blue team in a Washington Wizards scrimmage, John Wall stripped the ball from a player on the white team, outran a defender down the right sideline and went high with his left hand for a dunk.

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He also went behind the back, then drove down the middle and got fouled hard on a layup attempt. He hit the floor, but got up with no problem.

If Wednesday's practice was any indication, Wall looks ready for his season debut.

''I'm tired of suits. I want to put on a jersey,'' he said.

The former No. 1 overall draft pick is aiming to play Saturday against the Atlanta Hawks, which would be his first game since he was diagnosed with a stress injury to his left kneecap in September. He said if he can make it through the next two days of practice pain-free, he'll be good to go.

''I'm just working my way back in shape,'' Wall said, ''and just excited and happy to be back out there with my teammates and go through a full practice without no pain.''

Coach Randy Wittman said doctors need to give the final approval before Wall can play. Because Wall is working himself back into shape, he probably won't start in his first few games back and will have his minutes limited.

''We've got to be patient in this whole situation,'' Wittman said. ''His conditioning isn't near where it needs to be at this time. I don't want to put him in a situation out on the floor where (lack of) conditioning is going to have a tendency to cause another injury.''

Wittman said he wasn't bothered when he saw Wall hit the floor hard during the practice.

''Actually, I like seeing that, that's he's not tentative, not thinking about going to the basket and getting hit,'' the coach said. ''That's a positive.''

Without Wall, the Wizards have the NBA's worst record at 5-28, and their franchise player has almost become a forgotten man.

''I feel like ever since I got drafted, I've been under the shelf, so I'm not worried about none of that,'' Wall said. ''I'm just happy I'm getting the opportunity to play basketball again. I'm not really focused on what anybody is saying or what anybody thinks about my future or my career.''

Tagged: Wizards, John Wall

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