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John Wall stands tall as Wizards punch ticket to playoffs

All-star John Wall was appearing his first game in two months for the Wizards who clinched their fourth playoff berth in the last five seasons
AFP

Los Angeles (AFP) – John Wall made a successful return with a 15 point and 14 assist performance as the Washington Wizards defeated the Charlotte Hornets 107-93 on Saturday to book their spot in the NBA playoffs.

All-star Wall was appearing his first game in two months for the Wizards who clinched their fourth playoff berth in the last five seasons.

“We don’t know who we play and we really don’t care who we play. We just want to play well going into the playoffs,” coach Scott Brooks said.

Otto Porter tallied 26 points and 11 rebounds and Bradley Beal nailed six of eight shots from beyond the arc as the Wizards hit a franchise-record tieing 18 three pointers.

Wall last played in January when the American had left knee surgery. His impact was immediate as he made a three pointer on his first shot of the game and finished with 33 minutes of playing time.

“It was good to see my first shot go in,” Wall said.

Washington had lost four of the last five without Wall to drop into sixth place in the Eastern Conference, heading into the Hornets’ matchup.

Wall had averaged 19.4 points and 9.3 assists in 37 games before the injury.

“That Ferrari is pretty good,” Brooks said referring to Wall. “He got a lot of open shots for a lot of players. That’s what he does at the highest level in the league.”

The Hornets, who have now lost two straight, were led by Dwight Howard with 22 points.

“I just think turnovers killed us,” said Howard, who declined to give Wall credit. “I don’t want to say so much that it was John Wall coming back, but I think it was just turnovers.”

Washington beat Charlotte for the first time in four tries this season.

Elsewhere, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored 20 points as the Brooklyn Nets denied the Miami Heat a chance to clinch a postseason spot with a 110-109 overtime win.

Caris Levert scored with about a half-minute left in overtime to put Brooklyn up for good.

Levert finished with 19 and Brooklyn put seven players in double figures for the second straight game.

Brooklyn’s six-game overtime losing streak ended, and the Nets went 3-1 against the Heat this season.

James Johnson and Goran Dragic each scored 18 for Miami, which got 16 from Kelly Olynyk and 14 from Hassan Whiteside. Dwyane Wade had 13 for the Heat, whose magic number for clinching remained one.

In other games, Marcus Morris had 25 points and nine rebounds and the Boston Celtics rallied to beat the Eastern Conference-leading Toronto Raptors 110-99.

Andre Drummond narrowly missed a second straight 20-20 game with 22 points and 17 rebounds, and the Detroit Pistons beat the New York Knicks 115-109.

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