'I'm back': Wall scores 14 and Wizards top Hawks 93-83
In the fourth quarter, when he had shaken off the nerves and rust and finally found his legs, John Wall starting yelling: "I'm back."
"That's what I was saying the whole time," Wall said. "To anybody. I was just happy to be playing basketball. To whoever was in my way, that's what I was saying."
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The former University of Kentucky star made his season debut Saturday night, giving his teammates a lift with 14 points and four assists in 21 minutes, highlighted by a left-handed behind-the-back assist when the Washington Wizards were putting the game away in the final minutes.
Saturday night's 93-83 victory over the Atlanta Hawks gave the worst-in-NBA Wizards their first winning streak of the season, and a psychological high point now that their franchise player is healthy again.
"Still the same year," Wizards guard A.J. Price said. "But definitely new life."
Trying not to get carried away in his return from a knee injury, Wall went 5-for-11 from the field and 4-for-5 from the free-throw line, saluting the crowd as they gave him a standing ovation when he entered with 4:56 remaining in the first quarter, and again when he fed rookie Bradley Beal for a fast-break dunk, and one more time at the final whistle.
"I was just nervous to see how I would feel. ... My homeboys-slash-brothers were joking, happy the whole day," Wall said. "I'm just trying to stay calm and take a nap."
Although his playing time will be limited while he gets himself in full playing shape, Wall appeared to have his old speed and explosiveness back. It was his first time teaming with Beal, and they gave the fans a taste of the speedy backcourt they had waited so long to see.
"The game is different now," Wizards Coach Randy Wittman said.
Wall was expected to miss about two months when he was diagnosed with a stress injury to his left kneecap in late September. He began increasing his basketball activity last month, but it wasn't until Wednesday that he had his first full-throttle practice with the team.
After three consecutive days of pain-free workouts, Wall was given medical clearance Friday to suit up. He hit the floor a couple of times Saturday trying to take a charge, but bounced up with no apparent issues with his knee.
■ Al Jefferson scored 10 of his 20 points in the third quarter, and the Utah Jazz defeated the host Detroit Pistons 90-87. Detroit's Brandon Knight missed a three-pointer in the final seconds that would have tied the game after the Pistons trailed by 13 points with 3:26 left. Knight finished with 16 points.
Bucks send Lamb to D-League's Fort Wayne
The Milwaukee Bucks assigned Doron Lamb to the Fort Wayne (Ind.) Mad Ants of the NBA Development League, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Lamb practiced with the Bucks on Saturday but was scheduled to head to Fort Wayne on Sunday.
"It's an opportunity for him to play a bit," said new Bucks head coach Jim Boylan, who replaced Scott Skiles last week. "Practice is practice and working out is working out, but there's nothing like playing in a game. This is not a punishment by any means."
Boylan went on to tell the Journal-Sentinel that Lamb has shown great potential.
"We're excited about his future," Boylan said. "At the same time, there's really nowhere for him to play right now. A lot of teams are using this open enrollment for the D-League teams where you can send a guy down and bring him right back.
"There was a time you could only do it a couple times a year. Now it's unlimited. So everybody's taking advantage of it."
Lamb said he is not discouraged.
"I'm going to go out there and get a lot of playing time and show them I'm ready to come back," Lamb told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "Just work hard."
Kelly says he'll be back at Notre Dame
Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly will be back with the Fighting Irish next season after leading them to the national title game this past season. Kelly, who interviewed with the Philadelphia Eagles earlier in the week, said his interest with the NFL is over for now.
"Like every kid who has ever put on a pair of football cleats, I have had thoughts about being a part of the NFL. However, after much reflection and conversation with those closest to me, I have decided to remain at Notre Dame," Kelly said in a statement.
Stevens gets his 1st win of comeback
Gary Stevens won the first race at Santa Anita on Saturday at Arcadia, Calif., giving the Hall of Fame jockey his first winner in North America since 2005, when he began a seven-year retirement that ended last week. Stevens rode 5-1 shot Branding to a 2½ -length victory in his third race since beginning his comeback on Jan. 6. It was the 4,889th win of Stevens' career that includes three Kentucky Derbys and eight Breeders' Cup races. Stevens, who turns 50 in March, has been doubling as an analyst on HRTV in between riding races.
High school football
Chester's TD lifts Ky. All-Stars to victory
Lafayette wide receiver Tranard Chester caught a 90-yard touchdown pass from Nelson County's Dylan Beasley with 1:39 to go to give Kentucky's All-Stars a come-from-behind 29-27 win against Tennessee in the National Guard Border Bowl played at the University of the Cumberlands. Bourbon County's Kentayvus Hopkins and Perry County Central's Austin Pray both scored rushing TDs, and Frankfort's Aaron Jackson had a 40-yard interception return for a score.
High school basketball
Lafayette boys defeat Eastern 72-59
Jackson Davis had 25 points, 12 rebounds, four blocks and three steals to lead Lafayette to a 72-59 victory against Eastern in the Central Bank Classic at Lexington Christian. Charles Sweat-Washington added 15 points and seven rebounds for the Generals.
■ Lexington Christian's Matt Rose had 19 points and nine rebounds in his team's 73-53 loss at home to Windermere (Fla.) in the Central Bank Classic. Tyler Harville added 17 points, including five three-pointers, for the Eagles.
■ Morgan Chesnut had 23 points and 16 rebounds to lead No. 22 Clay County to a 66-63 win against No. 20 Lincoln County in double overtime.
Henley, Langley tied for Sony Open lead
PGA Tour rookies Russell Henley and Scott Langley will play one more round together at the Sony Open in Honolulu, this time with a trophy and a Masters invitation at stake.
Henley two-putted from 30 feet for birdie on the last hole for a 3-under 67. That gave him a share of the lead with Langley, who had a 65. They set the tournament scoring record through 54 holes at 17-under 193 and had a three-shot lead over Tim Clark.
The last word
Vanderbilt matched its season low for points and committed a season-worst 26 turnovers, leading to 23 points for Arkansas, in a 56-33 loss at Fayetteville, Ark. Vandy Coach Kevin Stallings said:
"Well, there's not a lot to say. We got our tails whipped, and I was real disappointed in our play in just about every way. ... I feel like I've seen a lot of first halves like that this year. With our team, we've struggled to score all season long."