What's the elixir for a team with the worst record in the NBA?

What gives hope to a team that has lost three in a row, 11 of 12 and 26 of 30 this season?

How do you put a smile on the face of a coach who hasn't for the better part of two months?

Let John Wall loose, of course.

For the first time since being diagnosed with a stress injury to his left kneecap on Sept. 28, the Wizards' 22-year-old point guard participated with some contact in Thursday's practice with the team at Verizon Center.

A date for Wall's return to the lineup is still in question but he has projected a return sometime this month.

"This is Christmas all over for him, to finally reach this point," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "You could see the spark in his eyes – finally. So we just gotta be patient. He's got to be itching to push this as fast as he can. We've got to be careful with that.

Wittman said Wall was "breathing hard" and "looked a little rusty" but moved well with light contact.

"It was good," he said. "That's a positive, trust me."

Wall was not the only player lifting the Wizards' spirits on Thursday. Forwards Trevor Ariza [strained left calf] and Trevor Booker [strained right knee] also participated in limited drills, while point guard A.J. Price [fractured right hand] ran the floor without contact.

Of the four injured players, Ariza appears to be the closest to returning to the lineup. His availability for Friday night's home game against the Brooklyn Nets will be determined prior to the game.