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Washington Wizards forward-center Nene has been suspended one game without pay for head-butting and grabbing guard-forward Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls around the neck with both hands and attempting to throw him down, it was announced today by Rod Thorn, President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, in which Nene received two technical fouls and was ejected from the game, occurred with 8:28 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Wizards’ 100-97 loss to the visiting Chicago Bulls last night at Verizon Center. Nene will serve his suspension tomorrow when the Wizards host Chicago.

To view video of the play, click on this link.

Tuesday in Chicago, the Washington Wizards beat the Bulls 101-99 in overtime to take a 2-0 series lead. Wizards guard Bradley Beal shot 9-of-20 for 26 points, 7 rebounds and two steals in the win. John Wall is the star guard in the Wizards backcourt, but Beal is on the rise. Here are some video highlights:

Here’s the Washington Post reporting on the Wizards, who have played two NBA playoff games against the Bulls, both in Chicago, and won both. Nice position to be in:

The Washington Wizards had to wait six years to get back to the postseason. But they only needed two games to really get introduced to playoff basketball, with more physical play, short tempers and extreme rallies. In the intense cauldron of United Center — a place that has devoured more seasoned units — the Wizards refused to relent after watching a 17-point lead turn into a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter, and didn’t crumble when they were betrayed by missed free throws and calls that went against them.

The Wizards have been through several ups and downs during the regular season, and they staged a game against the Chicago Bulls that matched those emotional oscillations. Relying upon the scoring of its youngest player, Bradley Beal, and the guile of Nene, Washington took a two-games-to-none lead in this best of seven series with a 101-99 overtime victory in which it outscrapped and outwilled the Bulls.

“I wanted our guys to be greedy,” Wizards Coach Randy Wittman said. “Nothing is guaranteed. We’ve got two wins, you’ve got to get to four. We have to continue to understand how we won these games and the way we went about it.”

Beal scored a game-high 26 points and Nene scored 17, with six coming in overtime, as the Wizards accomplished their mission of returning to Washington for Friday’s Game 3 with two wins. Grasping to a two-point lead in the closing seconds, Nene fouled out while contesting Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich on a driving layup, sending the former Wizard to the free throw line with 2.4 seconds remaining.

Here’s the Chicago Sun-Times reporting on the Wizards, who are set to face the Bulls in the first round of the NBA playoffs:

It’s a nice badge to carry into the playoffs: The team no one wants to play.

It even has a tinge of intimidation to it, that is, if the Bulls were actually facing a team that was susceptible to intimidation.

But they aren’t.

The Washington Wizards have little to lose, especially when all they’ve been hearing is they’re destined for elimination by next week.

“Why would they pick us?’’ Wizards center Marcin Gortat told the Washington Post on Friday when asked about all the predictions from the so-called experts favoring the Bulls. “First of all, Chicago is an experienced team. They have a lot of good players every year. The pressure is on them. I don’t understand why we should be mad. This is a good team, and we’ve just got to beat them. We’ve got to focus on our team.’’

Here’s the Washington Post Blog reporting on Wizards point guard John Wall:

The prevailing feeling both inside and outside the Washington Wizards locker room is this: the team will only go as far as John Wall leads it.

Such a burden is of course natural for a former No. 1 overall draft pick who signed a five-year, $80 million contract extension last summer. But Wall’s status as franchise player stretches far beyond the figurative sense and into the statistical realm, where his leadership responsibilities have emerged in several categories this season.

With two games left in the season, Wall has positioned himself to finish as the NBA’s total assists leader with 699, which is 21 ahead of Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio. When considering that Rubio plays alongside All-Star Kevin Love and that Chris Paul, who leads the league with 10.7 assists per game, is teammates with high-flying All-Star Blake Griffin, Wall’s position among the league’s top playmakers is that much more notable.

Not only does Wall rank third overall with 17.2 assist opportunities per game (passes to a teammate in which the teammate attempts a shot, and if made, would be an assist), he’s also third in points created by assist per game with 21.2, according to NBA.com’s Player Tracking stats.

wizards

The Washington Wizards have partnered with Make-A-Wish® Mid-Atlantic to help grant the wish of 10-year-old Wizards fan Amaris Jackson. Amaris, who is battling renal cell carcinoma and will undergo surgery in the near future to remove a tumor in her lungs, will be signed by the team for this weekend’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday, April 12. Amaris, who is point guard on her school’s basketball team, is from Washington, DC.

Amaris will join Coach Randy Wittman and the entire team for the pregame shootaround followed by a personalized basketball workout with assistant coach Ryan Saunders. Later that evening, she will join Monumental Sports & Entertainment majority owner, chairman and CEO Ted Leonsis and Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld for the signing of a one-day contract. Amaris will lead the team onto the court prior to the game against the Milwaukee Bucks and will take part in various in-game activities throughout the night.

The Charlotte Bobcats have leapfrogged another team, increasing the odds that their return to the playoffs won’t be a token appearance.

The Washington Wizards have dropped a spot and are having issues. Or, as center Marcin Gortat put it: “The way we play right now, we ain’t going to beat anybody, including Milwaukee.”

The Bobcats blew a 20-point, first-half lead to the Wizards on Wednesday night before winning 94-88 in overtime, moving Charlotte into position for the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference.

“To go from basically the worst team going to the six seed, I mean, it shows a lot,” said guard Kemba Walker, who scored the only field goal in overtime for either team.

The win left both teams at 40-38 with four games remaining, but Charlotte won the season series 3-1 and therefore holds the tiebreaker. Both teams want to stay out of seventh or eighth to avoid a first-round series against the two conference powerhouses, the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers.

– Associated Press

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that guard Glen Rice has been recalled from the Iowa Energy of the NBA Development League. Rice will be with the team for tonight’s game vs. Chicago.

In two separate assignments with the Energy, Rice has appeared in 19 games while averaging 17.2 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.7 steals in 28 minutes per game.

Rice has appeared in 11 games, including one start, for Washington this season while averaging 2.9 points in 10 minutes per game.

The 40-36 Wizards recently clinched a spot in the Eastern conference playoffs. They are currently the 6-seed, but could move up to five or drop to seven depending on how the rest of the season plays out.

Sure, it was easy for the Washington Wizards to say they were going to rebuild their team the “right way,” using the draft to restock the roster and doing a lot of losing before, hopefully, getting back to at least a little bit of winning.

Try living through it.

“Let me tell you, it feels like I’ve been here 20 years,” said coach Randy Wittman, who actually arrived as an assistant in 2009. “But it makes it worth the while, too. I wouldn’t wish some of the struggles that we went through on anybody, but it also makes it nicer then to see the other end of it.”

No one is proclaiming that the Wizards are the NBA dynasty, but the long-suffering franchise is back in the playoffs, having booked their spot Wednesday night with a 26-point thrashing of the Boston Celtics.

– Associated Press

Wizards sign Drew Gooden for rest of season

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has signed forward Drew Gooden for the remainder of the season.

Gooden, who signed consecutive 10-day contracts with the team on February 26 and March 8, has averaged 8.1 points and 4.6 rebounds in 14.6 minutes per game in eight games with the Wizards.

The Wizards have a 35-31 record, and are currently the 5th seed in the Eastern conference.

Here’s the Washington Post with a look into the future of the Washington Wizards and Trevor Ariza:

Ariza can become an unrestricted free agent after the season. Although he has been a huge contributor to the franchise’s revival, the Wizards have a logjam at his position. Backup forward Martell Webster is in the first year of a long-term deal, and rookie Otto Porter , the third overall in last June’s draft, needs to play, which he can’t do that if he remains buried on the bench.

For now, though, Ariza is on the roster — and the Wizards have needed him.

The Wizards have maintained their solid footing in the Eastern Conference playoff race (they’re currently fifth) despite the loss of Nene, who could miss all but the last few games of the regular season because of a knee injury. The Wizards had been 8-34 without the talented-but-brittle Brazilian big man before this most recent ailment, but they’re 7-3 in this stint entering this week’s four-game Western swing, thanks in large part to Ariza.

Ariza, whose career scoring average is 9.6 points, is at a personal-best 15 points per game this season.With Nene out, Ariza is averaging 19 points.

John Wall

Washington Wizards guard John Wall has been fined $15,000 for directing inappropriate comments towards the officials, it was announced today by Rod Thorn, President, Basketball Operations.

The incident occurred at the conclusion of the Wizards’ 98-85 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats on March 12, at Verizon Center.

CSN Washington reported the following last night, “The frustration has been boiling with John Wall when it comes to the lack of foul calls he receives when he attacks the paint, and in his mind it never was more evident than in Wednesday night’s loss to the Charlotte Bobcats. On what turned out to be a game-changing play, Wall was whistled for fouling Kemba Walker on a three-point attempt with the shot clock about to expire. At best, based on replays, the contact was minimal. “I didn’t touch him. All he did was scream,” Wall said. “The ref gave him calls all night because he was screaming.”

Wizards sign Drew Gooden to second 10-day contract

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has signed forward Drew Gooden to a second 10-day contract.

Gooden, who was originally signed by the Wizards on February 26, has averaged 4.0 points and 3.3 rebounds in 11.0 minutes over three games.

The veteran big-man provides frontcourt depth for the 32-29 Wizards.

Al Harrington

Harrington has appeared in seven games since returning from his right knee injury but he has had to adjust his game and find other ways to be effective while he continues to search for his rhythm.

That has meant more slashing and driving until his perimeter shot starts dropping. Harrington scored eight points in the Wizards’ 104-91 win over Utah but he failed to make a three-pointer for the fourth straight game. He has shot just 2 for 13 from long distance since returning.

“That’s how it is sometimes. I’m still thinking about my shot and that’s the worst thing I can do,” Harrington said.
As long as I keep doing that, I’m not going to be consistent. More opportunities I get to shoot, I’ve got to let it rip. Once I get one or two going, I’ll feel good about myself.”

– Washington Post blog

John Wall doing big things for Wizards

Here’s the Washington Post blog reporting on Wizards guard John Wall, who is an NBA All-Star this season:

john wall

John Wall had never had a better month in his career before March 2013, when he had finally regained his conditioning and confidence after recovering from a stress injury in his left knee that cost him the first 33 games of the season.

After spending the first two months of his comeback easing his way into a rhythm, Wall caught fire and recorded some of his best performances, including a career-high 47 points in a win over Memphis last March 27. He finished the season on a tear and was eventually rewarded with a maximum-salaried extension.

A year later, Wall has reached all-star status for the first time in his career and has gotten off to another solid start this month, averaging 20 points and 12.5 assists in the first two games. On Monday, Wall became the first Wizards player since Gilbert Arenas in 2006-07 to be named Eastern Conference player of the week at least twice in the same season. He has won conference player of the week honors three times, with the first award coming last March.

Wizards survive 3OT thriller vs Raptors

Here’s the Washington Post blog reporting on the Wizards, who on Thursday won a hard-fought triple-overtime battle against the Toronto Raptors:

Trevor Ariza was plowing through a plate of chicken and vegetables in the locker room after the Wizards completed a 3-hour 32-minute marathon with the Toronto Raptors. Ariza usually takes his time to hit the postgame buffet table after road games, but he was in a hurry to grab some grub on Thursday night. Playing almost 50 minutes will do that.

“Pretty tired. Hungry and tired,” Ariza said, when asked about how he felt after the Wizards survived a highly competitive and physically taxing triple-overtime game and left Air Canada Centre with a 134-129 victory. “It was the longest game in the world. You give it all so at the end of the game you’re totally drained. I was drained.”

The Washington basketball franchise hadn’t played a game that needed three overtimes since the Bullets lost to the Philadelphia 76ers, 110-109, on Nov. 15, 1975 – before all but three current NBA players were born (Steve Nash, Derek Fisher and Ray Allen). Wizards broadcaster Phil Chenier was a member of that Bullets team; he and Wes Unseld each scored 25 points that night. When asked his recollection of that contest in the locker room after Thursday’s game, Chenier said, “I don’t remember any of it.”

Chenier’s broadcast partner Steve Buckhantz let him know the Bullets lost that night, to which he said, “That’s probably why I don’t remember.”

Wizards sign Drew Gooden to 10-day contract

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has signed forward Drew Gooden to a 10-day contract.

“We will rely on all of our frontcourt players to step up and contribute as we go through this stretch without Nene,” said Grunfeld. “Signing Drew gives us size, shooting ability and experience to add to that mix.”

Gooden (6-10, 230) has played 11 seasons with Memphis, Orlando, Cleveland, Chicago, Sacramento, San Antonio, Dallas, the Los Angeles Clippers and Milwaukee, appearing in 687 career regular season games (493 starts) while averaging 11.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists in 27.0 minutes per contest. He has shot .465 (3,213-6,913) from the field and .759 (1,634-2,154) from the free throw line. The former fourth overall pick (2002 by Memphis) last played during the 2012-13 campaign with Milwaukee, where he averaged 3.3 points and 1.9 rebounds in 16 games. Gooden has averaged 10.5 points and 8.2 rebounds in 27.1 minutes over 44 career postseason games with Orlando, Cleveland and San Antonio, including a run to the 2007 NBA Finals with the Cavaliers.

Nene out six weeks with knee injury

Nene out six weeks with knee injury

Wizards forward/center Nene underwent an MRI exam today that revealed an MCL sprain in his left knee. The injury occurred in the third quarter of last night’s 96-83 win at Cleveland. He will miss approximately six weeks.

Nene has appeared in 49 games for Washington this season, averaging 14.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.24 steals in 30.1 minutes.

The Wizards this season are led in scoring by John Wall (19.7 ppg) and Bradley Beal (16.8 ppg), followed by Nene and Trevor Ariza, who both average 14.2 ppg. The team is 28-28 this season, and both 14-14 at home and 14-14 on the road.

nuggets trade andre miller

Washington Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld announced today that the team has acquired guard Andre Miller from Denver in exchange for forward Jan Vesely. As part of the three-team deal, the Wizards also sent guard Eric Maynor and a 2015 second round pick to Philadelphia and received a protected 2014 second round pick from the 76ers. The 76ers will also receive a future second round pick from Denver.

“Andre is a proven veteran who brings 14 years of experience as a point guard, leader and distributor to solidify our second unit,” said Grunfeld. “He will be a valuable addition as we make our push over these last 28 games of the season to put ourselves in the best possible position.”

Miller (6-2, 200) holds career averages of 13.6 points, 7.0 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.3 steals in 1,156 career games (935 starts) in 14-and-a-half NBA seasons with five teams. He has shot .459 from the field and .808 from the line. The eighth overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft has averaged 5.9 points and 3.3 assists in 30 games with Denver this season. A product of the University of Utah, Miller enjoyed his best season during the 2001-02 campaign when he averaged 16.5 points and a career-best and NBA-leading 10.9 assists in 81 games. He ranks second among active players and ninth in NBA history in career assists with 8,056 and is one of only eight players in NBA history to record at least 15,000 points and 7,500 assists. In 52 playoff games with Denver, Philadelphia and Portland, he holds averages of 15.5 points, 5.0 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.05 steals.

Vesely was selected with the sixth overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft by Washington. In 141 career games with the Wizards, he averaged 3.5 points and 3.4 rebounds. In 33 games this season, Vesely posted 3.2 points and 3.4 rebounds in 14 minutes.

Maynor signed with Washington as a free agent on July 10, 2013. In 23 games with the Wizards this season, he averaged 2.3 points and 1.7 assists in nine minutes.

“We appreciate the contributions and professionalism of both Jan and Eric during their time with the Wizards and we wish them both well,” said Grunfeld.

The 2015 second round pick that Washington sent to Philadelphia was acquired from the Clippers in 2012. In the three-team deal, the Wizards sent JaVale McGee and Ronny Turiaf to the Denver Nuggets and Nick Young to the Los Angeles Clippers. In return, the Wizards received Nene from Denver and Brian Cook and a second-round pick from the Clippers. The Clippers acquired the pick from New Orleans as part of their trade for Chris Paul trade the previous December.

Wizards may pass on trade deadline moves

Here’s the Washington Post blog with an update on the Wizards, who like all 30 NBA teams face a rapidly-approaching deadline to make trades:

The Washington Wizards have been mentioned in several trade rumors leading up to Thursday’s 3 p.m. deadline for deals, but there have been few hints to suggest that any moves will actually get made.

“I think there’s a lot less chatter than ever before, so I’m not anticipating anything,” Coach Randy Wittman said after Monday’s late-night practice. “But obviously you gotta look, if there’s something there that makes you a better team down the stretch you got to look to do it.”

Wittman has stuck with an eight- or nine-man playing rotation for much of the season, and Al Harrington is expected to return in the next few weeks to possibly provide more front-court depth. The Wizards have an obvious need for help at backup point guard with Garrett Temple playing a larger-than-expected role because of the failings of last summer’s free agent pickup, Eric Maynor.

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