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NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, January 12th (All times Eastern)
Atlanta Hawks (21-14) at Washington Wizards (5-28), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Could this be the night the Washington Wizards record two wins in a row for the first time this season? The Wizards will try to do that when they resume a three-game homestand Saturday versus the Atlanta Hawks.
It's quite possible Washington will pull off a win because the atmosphere at the Verizon Center should be intense with the expected return of star point guard John Wall. Wall hasn't played this season because of a balky knee and averaged 16.3 points and 8.0 assists in all 66 games in 2011-12.
Wall, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2010 draft, has been practicing without restrictions all week and told reporters Friday he is feeling no pain or soreness in the knee. Wizards coach Randy Wittman gave his take on Wall.
"His conditioning is going to be a thing that I make sure I keep a good eye on, that when I see the point of exhaustion, I've got to get him in and out," said Wittman. "I'm sure after talking to the doctor, from a minutes standpoint, I think we'll probably have something there initially and as he moves forward."
Wall said it was tough not to play and added that he'll feel "anxious" when he steps on the floor for the first time. The speedy guard, who switched from Reebok to Adidas, just wants to fit in and be the missing piece the Wizards haven't had. He learned where his teammates' "sweet spots" are from watching on the bench and will try not to do too much Saturday.
Washington is coming off Monday's improbable 101-99 victory versus the Oklahoma City Thunder and ended a five-game losing streak in the process. Rookie Bradley Beal scored 22 points and sank the game-winning floater with 0.3 seconds remaining in the game as the Wizards won for the second time in their past 15 tries.
"First off, win or lose, I couldn't have been more proud of our group of guys than what these guys showed me tonight," Wittman said.
Martell Webster scored a season-high 22 points and Emeka Okafor registered a double-double of 12 points and 12 boards. Kevin Seraphin had 19 points for the Wizards, who are 4-13 at home and will wrap up the residency Monday versus Orlando.
Beal is averaging 15.7 points, 3.5 rebounds and 3.3 assists in his last six games, while Okafor is posting averages of 10.0 points and 10.9 rebounds in his last 10 games. The Wizards, owners of a 2-21 mark against the East, played without Jordan Crawford and Nene due to injuries. Crawford (ankle) leads the Wizards with 15.6 ppg and is doubtful Saturday, and Nene (knee) is probable.
Atlanta halted an annoying four-game losing streak with Friday's 103-95 triumph over the Utah Jazz thanks to a season-high 24 points from Devin Harris. Harris returned to the lineup Wednesday after missing 11 games with a right foot injury.
"It was one of our top games of the year. Obviously, coming off the losing streak, the way guys responded is something we need to do moving forward," Harris said. "We have to give credit to our bench, they really helped us out and played with a lot of energy."
Josh Smith had 15 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, while Lou Williams scored 14 points and Ivan Johnson added 13 off the bench for Atlanta, which will play two straight road games and is 9-8 away from home. The Hawks have lost three straight on the road and will also visit Chicago.
The Hawks will shoot for a four-game series sweep of the Wizards Saturday and won all three meetings a season ago. Atlanta has won six straight, 18 of 19 and 20 of the previous 24 matchups between the Southeast foes.
Atlanta has also won nine of its last 10 trips to D.C.
01/12 10:32:55 ET
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