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John Wall making Washington Wizards giant-killers


The Wizards are a bit over .500 since John Wall has returned from knee injury but he played a big role in back-to-back upsets of the Clippers and Knicks at home that should give the Nets some pause. Like the Knicks, who the Wizards beat by 10, the Nets don't do well against teams with speedy guards ... and Wall may be the speediest.

In the 15 games since he's been back, the Wizards have beaten the Hawks, Nuggets and Bulls in addition to the Clippers and Knicks. Of course, they've also lost to the Kings (twice) and 76ers. He dominated the Knicks, putting them ahead early, fending off Carmelo Anthony's advances late.

The other advantage the Wizards have, beyond Wall, is that they are healthy. Bradley Beal, who had been out with a sprained wrist, is back Friday. Nene Hilario, Emeka Okafor and Martell Webster, all of whom played well against the Nets their double-overtime win, started and played big minutes vs. New York.

They've dramatically improved their defense. Over the last 10 games, they lead the NBA in perimeter defense and are in the top five in points per game and opponent field goal percentage. They're seventh in blocks, 11th in steals in the course of that stretch. With a healthy Nene and Okafor, you can also expect a battle on the boards.

For the Nets, no word yet on Toko Shengelia's mild concussion. The NBA's new protocol requires a waiting period after a concussion is diagnosed. Otherwise, the team seems healthy with Deron Williams continuing to play through nagging injuries and a cold stretch. His main problem is likely to be keeping up with Wall. Of course, it will be another opportunity for Andray Blatche to show Wizards fans what he can do.

In the 21 games since P.J. Carlesimo took over, the Nets, despite recent woes, are 15-6. That's nearly a .750 winning percentage. Still, as the beat writers' offerings lay out, the Nets don't have a complete power forward.