Davis, Wall battle in NBA exhibition

Basketball fans from across the state had a unique opportunity to welcome home two of their favorite former Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday night as John Wall's Washington Wizards took on Anthony Davis's New Orleans Pelicans in an NBA exhibition game at Rupp Arena.

Basketball fans from across the state had a unique opportunity to welcome home two of their favorite former Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday night as John Wall's Washington Wizards took on Anthony Davis's New Orleans Pelicans in an NBA exhibition game at Rupp Arena.

It was only a preseason game, but the two former No. 1 draft picks led a spirited and competitive matchup between the clubs. Ultimately, it was Davis who wound up with bragging rights after helping lead the Pelicans to a 93-89 win to remain undefeated through six exhibition games.

Davis overcome early foul trouble to score 16 points, grab four rebounds and block two shots. Wall matched his 16 points, but also dished out a game-high 11 assists, many of them directed to a familiar face to UK fans -- former Florida guard Bradley Beal -- who pumped in a game-high 30 points for the Wizards.



Washington is just 1-4 on the preseason, but the coaching staff thinks it has the pieces in place to take a big step toward their first playoff berth since 2008, especially in the backcourt.

"When John puts pace in the game, with Bradley's ability to knock down shots as well as create shots off the dribble when John sucks the defense in, it's pretty good," Washington coach Randy Whitman said. "Through last year, and now this year playing, I think they're understanding each other."

Davis's first blocked shot of the night came against Wall, leading to mixed emotions from the 14,980 fans in attendance. The second proved to be perhaps the biggest play of the game as Davis wiped away what appeared to be an open layup by Beal in the closing seconds that would have tied the game.

No sweat, Davis said.

"I just blocked the shot," he said. "We still had time on the clock. We still had to make free throws, and we turned the ball over after that, so still had to come back and get another stop. My mind was focused on the game."

Both Davis and enjoyed their experience of returning to Lexington and playing in front of a home crowd under the setting of a real game, unlike the charity games they've played participated in with other UK players.

"It was fun. It was real fun just to get the win, and the crowd was awesome. The other team was awesome, and it was a great battle," Davis said.

When asked if he would like to see the league continue to bring NBA events to Kentucky, Wall's face lit up and he seemed genuinely intrigued by the idea.

"I hope so. I hope they keep having more preseason games here, or maybe someone will come have training camp," Wall said. "I think it's big, especially because they don't have an NBA team here and there's a lot of guys in the NBA coming from this school."

Former UK standout Darius Miller is also a member of the New Orleans Pelicans, but he was out of action on Saturday as he continues to recover from a foot injury. Miller is expected to make a full recovery and play a significant role in the Pelicans rotation this season.

Before the event got under way UK head coach John Calipari released a statement highlighting each of his players involved in the game.

"It's always great to have my "sons" come back home," Calipari said. "And to have the opportunity to see them living out their dreams makes it even more special.

"Anthony (Davis) has matured so much physically and mentally, even after just one season in New Orleans. They're a young team so they'll have an opportunity to grow together.

"John (Wall) has shown what he's capable of, closing out last season strong. And now he's got a max deal, but he's shown how special he is off the floor by donating $1 million to charity.

"Darius (Miller) is hurt right now but I think when he comes back he will add versatility to the Pelicans on both ends of the floor and add to a great rookie season."


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