Wall likely to sit as Wizards visit Nets
NEW YORK — The Washington Wizards are closer to getting John Wall back from a left knee injury while the Brooklyn Nets are adding two new players.
Wall is expected to sit again Tuesday when the Wizards visit the Nets, who are expected to activate Jahlil Okafor and Nik Stauskas.
“I can’t commit that he’s definitely going to play tomorrow, but he’s definitely moving in the right direction,” Washington coach Scott Brooks told reporters after Monday’s practice.
The Wizards are 4-4 since announcing Wall will miss two weeks with discomfort in his knee. Six of those games have been on the road where Washington is 8-7.
The good news for the Wizards is that Wall’s return is imminent and may happen Wednesday against Memphis. Wall participated in his first practice when the Wizards worked out at UCLA on Friday and did not feel any pain.
He went through another full practice Monday but the team’s game notes list him as being out.
Without Wall, Washington’s starting backcourt has consisted of Tim Frazier and Bradley Beal. While Frazier is not playing big minutes (averaging 21.5 in the last eight games), Beal is producing big numbers.
During Wall’s absence, Beal is averaging 23.3 points on 44.4 percent shooting while playing 33.8 minutes per game. Overall, Beal is averaging a career-best 23.8 points and shooting 46.2 percent.
Beal has 19 games with 20 points this season and the Wizards are 9-10 in those games. During Wall’s absence, Beal has five 20-point games, including a 51-point showing last Tuesday in Portland.
The latest 20-point showing by Beal was a 25-point game in Saturday’s 113-112 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. After getting 85 points on 34-of-59 shooting in wins at Portland and Phoenix, Beal shot 8 of 21, though he made 5 of 11 from 3-point range.
Beal also had a shot that did not count in the final 1.2 seconds but the Wizards blew an early 13-point lead and wound up falling to 1-5 in games decided by three points or less.
“It’s frustrating. It’s a little bit beyond frustrating at this point,” Beal said. “Like I just told Tim (Frazier), we should be tired of coming in here and saying, ‘on to the next one, on to the next one.’ You run out of games at some point.”
The Wizards also have played inconsistently against teams with losing records. Last season, they were 27-9 against those teams, but they have losses to the Charlotte Hornets, Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks and the Clippers.
“We’ve gotta learn how to put teams away,” Beal said. “We’ve gotta learn how to put our foot on the gas,” he added. “These are important games and games that we need to win and should have won.”
The Nets are returning after spending the last week on the road, though they were the home team for games against Oklahoma City and Miami in Mexico City.
Brooklyn will be adding Okafor and Stauskas to the roster after acquiring the former first-round picks from Philadelphia on Thursday.
Neither player has played much this season, so it’s unlikely they’ll get big minutes Tuesday.
Okafor appeared in just two games before the 76ers granted his wish to be traded, while Stauskas scored four points in six games with Philadelphia.
As a rookie, Okafor averaged 17.5 points and seven rebounds in 53 games. He followed it up by averaging 11.8 points and 4.8 boards in 50 games but was deemed expendable by the emergence of big man Joel Embiid last season.
“He’s extremely talented,” Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie said of Okafor. “We’ll find ways to get him shots, and my job is to give him the ball in positions he likes and hopefully make his transition as easy as possible.”
Tyler Zeller has been Brooklyn’s starting center for the last nine games after Timofey Mozgov began the season as the starter. Zeller will likely be the starter again while Okafor could back up for the time being.
The Nets return to Brooklyn after winning two of three on their trip. They dominated the second half in Atlanta on Dec. 5, rallied from 16 points down to beat Oklahoma City on Thursday and appeared fatigued by the high altitude in Saturday’s 101-89 loss to Miami.
Brooklyn produced its second-lowest point total and was held under 100 points for the fourth time. The Nets shot 40.7 percent and missed 20 of 27 3-pointers.
“Overall, I thought this was a positive trip, beating Atlanta and then Oklahoma City,” Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said. “We would have liked to get this third one.
The Wizards have won the last seven meetings and 12 of the last 14.