Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
On Twitter: MrMichaelLee and PostSports  |  Facebook  |  E-mail alerts: Redskins and Sports  |  RSS
Posted at 1:17 AM ET, 11/24/2010

John Wall shows (again) why Wizards selected him first overall

By Michael Lee

I see why they took you, John. (AP Photo)


If you turned the channel when Marreese Speights made a layup to give the Philadelphia 76ers a 15-point lead with about eight minutes left, or when 76ers rookie Evan Turner stepped to the foul line for two free throws and the Wizards trailing by three with eight seconds left, then you are probably disappointed that you missed the end of this one. But if you stuck around for all 53 minutes -- sometimes excruciating, other times incredibly enjoyable -- you were treated to yet another thrilling, John Wall-inspired overtime victory for over the 76ers.

The Wizards really had no business winning the game, 116-114, but Wall's determination combined with a series of boneheaded plays by the 76ers resulted in yet another overtime victory and settled any lingering debate -- if there was any -- about which player should've gone first overall.

Coach Flip Saunders summed up exactly how the 76ers -- and Coach Doug Collins, in particular -- should probably feel after yet another bizarre finish that saw Elton Brand take JaVale McGee out of midair, Trevor Booker force a critical turnover, and Wall force overtime after one of the silliest fouls at the end of regulation.

"You better keep all sharp objects away from Doug," Saunders joked, "because he's come in here twice, they've had two games where they've been right there, and they've played very well."

The major difference in each game was Wall, who showed up Turner for second time in two meetings. After scoring 29 points with 13 assists and nine steals in a 116-115 overtime win on Nov. 2, Wall served as hero once again, as he scored 25 points -- all after halftime -- and used his savvy ability to coerce Jrue Holiday into fouling him just inside halfcourt and hitting three free throws to force overtime.

With Thanksgiving two days away, Joseph White of the Associated Press appropriately dubbed the play, "a Holiday gift."

"I could tell how he was walking up to me that he was going to foul me so in that situation. I just tried to shoot the ball before he got there and see if he was going to foul me," Wall said. "Luckily I got the call and got to shoot the three free throws."


I'm not losing tonight! (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/Washington Post)

Dressed in his warm-ups for the first time in more than a week, Wall grabbed a microphone before the game but it wasn't to announce his return. He quickly wished the fans in attendance a happy Thanksgiving and handed the microphone right back. Still recovering from a sprained left foot, Wall came off the bench for the first time in his brief career.

When he entered the game with 5:47 left in the first period, Wall received a huge ovation from the crowd. It didn't take long for Wall to show some rust. He shot an airball three-pointer that led to a shot clock violation and was off-target on his first five shots in the half. "For one, I was out of shape," he said. "I was tired after a couple of minutes. I don't have the same explosiveness, but I'm fighting and playing as hard as I can."

Al Thornton sprained his left ankle and was forced to leave the game before halftime, and Wall opened the third quarter in the starting lineup with Kirk Hinrich and Gilbert Arenas. He credited his turnaround to a talk with Saunders and chugging an energy drink (if he had just mentioned the name of the drink, I'm sure he could've earned an endorsement deal on the spot). Wall was no longer tentative, but he attacked the 76ers in a much different way than expected -- with his jump shot, instead of his speed. He made 7 of 10 shots, including three three-pointers. He also was 7 for 7 from the foul line.

Wall also showed some fiestiness when got chest to belly with Speights, who confronted him after Wall shoved Turner with 27.9 seconds left. "I fouled Evan Turner the wrong way. I was going to see if he was all right and [Speights] walked up to me and said, 'Don't foul him like that,' or something like that. I wasn't going to take it, so we just got in an altercation."

Although injuries contributed to Wall coming off the bench on Tuesday, it was odd to see him in reverse roles with Turner -- who came off the bench in the first game but started the second -- as the game tipped off. No matter where the two started, though, both players again influenced the outcome. Turner showing an ability to make plays down the stretch, as he scored six points in the final 45.2 seconds of regulation. But he didn't make the play (or free throws) that his team needed.

And, Wall did more, much more, to make sure that his team won.

The separation between the two players was apparent when Turner missed two free throws with eight seconds left, when he just needed one to secure to win. "I don't ever, ever do that," Turner mumbled after the game. "I don't know how that happened."

Arenas offered a suggestion. "I told him two plays before that when I fouled him the first time and I said, 'We're going to foul you because you're a rookie. Rookies always miss," Arenas said, apparently forgetting the clutch rookie in his locker room.

Wall used the opening to lead his team into overtime, calmly making three clutch free throws, and eventually the win. He saw slightly more action that Saunders intended in his first game back since Nov. 13. "I'll say this, I didn't expect him to go out and get 25. I didn't expect him to go do that after sitting out for eight, nine days and basically having one practice," Saunders said. "He made big threes to bring us back, and we got the crowd in the game, so he made big shots."

And set the stage for interesting rematch in Philadelphia on Jan. 5.

By Michael Lee  | November 24, 2010; 1:17 AM ET
Categories:  John Wall  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Wall returns to action after missing four games
Next: Many contributed to improbable Wizards win

Comments

It's like Groundhog Day.

Another nail-biter of a win against a mediocre-to-terrible team followed by paroxysms of fannish madness.

Seeing some real signs of maturity from McGee, things that can't be quantified by the box score or the highlight reel (which is, of course, what all that fanboys will crow about).

I don't know how many times I've seen players try to get the continuation call in the "Foul to give" situation, to no avail, like the refs predetermine not to call it. Kudos to Wall for being heady enough to force their hands.

Great win (because there are no bad ones), but the Sixers are awful. The Wiz absolutely should have beaten them on their home floor, but had Brand not gotten tossed out, I'm not sure they would have (even with them seemingly going out of their way to hand the Wiz the game towards the end of regulation).

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 24, 2010 2:06 AM | Report abuse

I see the same signs from McGee. I can't pinpoint what it is exactly. Perhaps his focus - he just looks less lost than he used to on the court. He plays most of the game with purpose now. He is still not refined, but now I see signs that it could be possible in the not too distant future for him to be an elite player rather than never or in 3/4 seasons as I thought before say the last 3 weeks.

Posted by: rphilli721 | November 24, 2010 2:21 AM | Report abuse

for all the doubters like jack 4ss88, the inception has started.

Posted by: Rocc00 | November 24, 2010 2:29 AM | Report abuse

"And, Wall did more, much more, to make sure that his team won.

The separation between the two players was apparent when Turner missed two free throws with eight seconds left, when he just needed one to secure to win. "I don't ever, ever do that," Turner mumbled after the game. "I don't know how that happened."

Arenas offered a suggestion. "I told him two plays before that when I fouled him the first time and I said, 'We're going to foul you because you're a rookie. Rookies always miss," Arenas said, apparently forgetting the clutch rookie in his locker room."

Classic!

Posted by: RedCherokee | November 24, 2010 3:01 AM | Report abuse

Arenas misses crucial free throws against Cleveland and Wall makes them. Already the rookie is leading by showing his mental toughness, something Arenas has always seemed to lack.

Javale is starting to prove that he can play the center position... let's hope this season he continues to progress.

Big time shot from Nick Young! Great to see him succeed! I think he shoots with extra confidence when he gets a pass from Gilbert (like he did on that game-winner), since Gilbert went out of his way to show his confidence in Nick in the pre-season by faking the injury to sit out. I know that sounds convoluted, but athletes can be mentally delicate creatures...

Wall attributed his second half turnaround to a talk with Flip. I guess Flip MIGHT KNOW WHAT HE IS DOING. Everybody on here who bashes him should be glad we don't still have Doug Collins on our sideline.

Posted by: Janitor_with_a_Jumpshot | November 24, 2010 4:47 AM | Report abuse

This is one of the most improbable wins I've seen from a home team since I can't remember. Totally mental! Awesome.

Posted by: richs91 | November 24, 2010 6:17 AM | Report abuse

I missed the ending of the game. But I agree that McGee has shown signs of improvement this season. I think it's his energy level. He plays with so much frenetic energy that he used to get gassed far too quickly. Now with the diagnosis and treatment of his asthma, he doesn't get as winded as he used to. Still, he needs to learn that blocking shots is great but even better is preventing the shot from going up. I've seen him give room for a shooter to attempt a shot and then McGee tries (and usually succeeds) to block the shot.

Posted by: tundey | November 24, 2010 7:24 AM | Report abuse

Sit back and enjoy this victory. I know it was only the Sixers. And of course we wouldn't have won it if Brand hadn't gotten tossed out. Who cares about all the scenarios? I know basketball. And what I saw last night was a Statement Game. I saw JaVale play a dominating game against a good Philly front line. The Wizards guards showed, again, how good they can be when they're healthy.

What team has a better guard trio than Arenas, Young and Wall? When Josh Howard returns, the Wizards will have the 3rd best team in the Southeast. Only Orlando and Miami are clearly more talented.

Posted by: musicmanjr | November 24, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

I don't really want to upset the apple cart, and as someone posted above, there are no bad wins. However, we didn't win this game as much as the Sixers lost (REALLY lost) it. (Abe working his magic again on the anniversary of his passing???) This game was a mirror image of Sunday's Detroit game, except this time, at home, we were Detroit. I'm sure Doug felt exactly the same way last night as Flip felt after the game on Sunday.

Of course, we'll take an improbable home win against another bad team, and we must see the positives for what they are. I don't want to get to giddy though, because if you watched the whole game, there was more to dislike about it than to go crazy over. We have GOT to learn how to defend.

With all of that said, we are obviously taking the little steps that a team needs to take in order to show steady improvement. Winning the close games at home, as well as beating the teams we're supposed to beat, are necessary elements toward respectability, and we are starting to do that. The road wins will come down the line.

Posted by: bpybay | November 24, 2010 8:10 AM | Report abuse

What team has a better guard trio than Arenas, Young and Wall? When Josh Howard returns, the Wizards will have the 3rd best team in the Southeast. Only Orlando and Miami are clearly more talented.

Posted by: musicmanjr | November 24, 2010 7:49 AM | Report abuse

I hope that by "best team" you mean "most talented team" (which you do allude to at the end of your post). We are obviously a supremely "talented" team. But we lack the experience necessary to be a good team. Great talent is never, and will never, be enough to be great. It's the application of your mind to your craft that causes you to be great. I can see it coming, though.

Posted by: bpybay | November 24, 2010 8:22 AM | Report abuse

There is nothing much to be said. Evan Turner missed two freethrows that would have won the game and that was it. The team that forces overtime usually have momentum in extra time. The same thing could be said about Sunday night game when Detroit scored 2 baskets in the last 45 seconds to send it to overtime.

Posted by: spades72 | November 24, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Guess I'm getting post-happy here.

When I look at this team, I see championship caliber talent. I can easily see JaVale, Andray, Gil, John and Josh (if healthy) being future NBA champions if they develop all that talent to its full potential. Right now they're a work in progress, and you can't have five years experience until you experience five years. I challenge anyone on this blog to name even one team in the Association that has more potential than we do.

As I said before, we need to keep the core group together. We CANNOT blow this thing up again.

Posted by: bpybay | November 24, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

It's all on the coaching staff now.

Posted by: bpybay | November 24, 2010 8:43 AM | Report abuse

Where are all the people who were criticizing Arenas for passing on the shot that Blatche missed? Gil made the same decision to pass up the shot and instead gave it to Young but he gets no credit for trusting his teammate and finding the open man.

Posted by: spades72 | November 24, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

@bpybay:
We are all just observers here. "Talent" and "Best" are not synomymous terms. Most NBA rosters are collection of stars, all-stars and role players.

The point I'm making is that the Wizards have a mix of young, athletic studs [Wall, McGee]; crafty veterans [Arenas, Howard, Hinrich] and role players [Young, Yi, Booker] who are on the verge of making a playoff run.

Let's see if they apply their 'mind to their craft'. If so, they will have their way with the also-rans of the NBA Eastern conference.

Posted by: musicmanjr | November 24, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

Kalo-rama actually wrote something positive about McGee. Now that's unbelievable. Kalo gave the impression that McGee had no room for improvement despite that he is only 22 yrs. old and in his 3rd year in the NBA.

Posted by: spades72 | November 24, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Kalo-rama actually wrote something positive about McGee. Now that's unbelievable. Kalo gave the impression that McGee had no room for improvement despite that he is only 22 yrs. old and in his 3rd year in the NBA.

Posted by: spades72 | November 24, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

Just prepping you......... Kal is gonna come on here and ream you out and say that he never said JM didn't have room for improvement. This in fact is true. Kal has beat the drum for some time now that there is a lot of room for improvement in JM's game and that his babysteps don't mitigate his sophmoric antics. I know what you're trying to say, but Kal is gonna rip you for misusing the term "room for improvement". Get yer guns up.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | November 24, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

@bpybay:
We are all just observers here. "Talent" and "Best" are not synomymous terms.

Posted by: musicmanjr | November 24, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

That was exactly the point I was trying to make, and my post was in no way a criticism of your post. Just asking a question for clarification.

Posted by: bpybay | November 24, 2010 9:36 AM | Report abuse

The real story is to find out why someone would actually name their child, whom they supposedly love, "Marreese". Was John, David, Michale or Harold already taken up on the family tree?

Posted by: KDSmallJr | November 24, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

The weak link is Blatch and his fadeaway clunkers which the 76ers used for breakaways..Lucky for him Brand was ejected.

Posted by: jercha | November 24, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

The Wizards have begun to pay their dues. They now understand that before you can compete for a championship, you must win the games you are supposed to win. By mid-season they will be a team that nobody wants to play. Great win for the home team!

Posted by: carterm1 | November 24, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Arenas misses crucial free throws against Cleveland and Wall makes them. Already the rookie is leading by showing his mental toughness, something Arenas has always seemed to lack.

Posted by: Janitor_with_a_Jumpshot | November 24, 2010 4:47 AM | Report abuse

?????? You can't possibly be serious with this statement, are you?????

Posted by: bpybay | November 24, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Gil & Dray

Dray has to start playing with more intensity & hustling more. I still cut him a break due to the injury because everyone is just going to be faster than you at the start but he can still hustle alot more then he does. I think he would really benefit from a Wall-Gil backcourt and us running more.

Gil has to do something about those layups. Again, for him to jump so high on defensive rebounds but be so timid at finishing has to be somewhat mental. Also, sometimes he's nearly wide open. You can be a 14yo who cant jump at all and make a wide open layup. He still is doing that stuff that he did last year in that he's trying to draw the foul 1st & make the layup 2nd. That worked in his prime but he's not athletic enough for that now. Just try to make the layup. I think he probably doesnt even practice it. Most pros dont practice that kinda stuff but he should start just running full speed from the FT line & raising up high for layups. Then get someone to slightly defend the rim while he does it. Thats the only way to simulate it. Regular layup drills or shooting jumpers isnt going to do it. He has to get that confidence back because its so deflating when he does that

Posted by: dlts2041 | November 24, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: KDSmallJr | November 24, 2010 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Martha + Reese= Marreese. take it easy, we have a Javale,Carier, and a Hamady on our squad.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | November 24, 2010 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Wiz have the best combo of guards in NBA with Gil, Hin, Wall, and Young. Saunders has a nice problem there on who to give minutes. It is nice to see Young also play some D this year.

Hopefully Josh Howard will be back in a few weeks.

Also, Booker is holding his own out there.

This is a much better team to watch than the old Butler, Jamison, and Gil show with Gil walking the ball down, then Caron or Jamison throwing up a 20 footer with 3-5 seconds left.

Posted by: fearturtle44 | November 24, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

"Wall settled any lingering debate -- if there was any -- about which player should've gone first overall."

Michael Lee continues to expose himself as the single most incompetent reporter ever to write for the Washington Post. How can a player "settle" a debate about whether he was the right play to be chosen in just his 9th career game? We all love John Wall and we all believe he was the best player in this draft. But this can't be "settled" 9 games into his career.

Just another in a seemingly endless series of imbecilic comments from the imbecile Michael Lee.

Posted by: Barno1 | November 24, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

"This is a much better team to watch than the old Butler, Jamison, and Gil show with Gil walking the ball down, then Caron or Jamison throwing up a 20 footer with 3-5 seconds left."

True that, but I'll cop to still kinda missing CB3 a little bit.

Posted by: BMoreChil | November 24, 2010 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I like this win and the way the team fought back! Wall was super clutch at the line and "Big Shot" Nick Young hitting the 3 to win was huge. JaVale McGee is a more offensive version of Marcus Camby and is really developing his game and coming into his own!

Posted by: Beltwayboy7 | November 24, 2010 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Great to see Gilbert making a quite, but excellent contribution on a consistent basis. Yes he has had turnovers, but that will improve as he gets more time on the court with his teammates, after going through 3 injury plagues years. He has definitely lost some speed and athleticism due to injuries, but he is still better than 95% of the players out there.

Posted by: la_terp | November 24, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

"This is a much better team to watch than the old Butler, Jamison, and Gil show with Gil walking the ball down, then Caron or Jamison throwing up a 20 footer with 3-5 seconds left."

True that, but I'll cop to still kinda missing CB3 a little bit."

I tell you who I miss right now, Jamison. At least Caron's on a winning team. Poor 'Twan is stuck in Cleveland AND coming off the bench. Don't necessarily miss his contract though.

Posted by: NotoriousREG | November 24, 2010 4:05 PM | Report abuse

"I challenge anyone on this blog to name even one team in the Association that has more potential than we do."

That's an interesting question. Of course the Wiz' potential is generally unrealized. So is there a club in the NBA with more unrealized potential than Washington?

I would think so. The Clips for one. They've got Blake Griffin but also the very promising Eric Gordon to go with Baron Davis and Chris Kaman and the rookies Aminu and Eric Bledsoe, who are nothing if not talented. It's entirely possible that Memphis, with Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, and OJ Mayo, have as much unrealized young potential as the Wiz. Certainly you have to consider the young guys at Golden State and Minnesota as full of barely realized potential.

Actually, now that I think of it, the NBA's bottom tier has several teams that could eventually be a whole lot better than they are now.

Our guys have talent, but as a group, they're not unique. You know who could really be special? John Wall.

Posted by: Samson151 | November 24, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

The Great Wall of D.C.

Posted by: comhendbear | November 24, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Arenas misses crucial free throws against Cleveland and Wall makes them. Already the rookie is leading by showing his mental toughness, something Arenas has always seemed to lack.

Posted by: Janitor_with_a_Jumpshot | November 24, 2010 4:47 AM | Report abuse

?????? You can't possibly be serious with this statement, are you?????

Posted by: bpybay | November 24, 2010 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Uhhh... see last year's stories written about Gilbert Arenas in regards to his mental toughness and how funny guns are in the workplace. Also, see this year's stories from the pre-season about his faking an injury. Also, see the stories from a few years back about his carrying unregistered guns in his car. Also, see the stories from the last few years, including this year, about how the various coaches have not named him a captain of the team. Also... see my earlier statement that you found hard to believe.

Posted by: Janitor_with_a_Jumpshot | November 25, 2010 5:19 AM | Report abuse

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Looking forward to a great game tonight. We have been either straight garbage or terribly boring seemingly in every single National TV game weve gotten the last few years. Its time for a change. Hopefully Wall's leg is ok and we can finally see the Wall-Gil backcourt make a start together. Maybe even Yi can make a return off the bench. Im torn on the NY thing. I think Id still rather have Al start this game if he can go because I think we will have enough scoring in the starting group without NY and then we can come off the bench with him, Kirk, and maybe Yi. That would be great.

Atlanta is a tricky team. Weve always matched up pretty well with them but this game will be different. They have a big SG in JJ and a big SF in Williams. Gil will be matched up against JJ and if we go small then Kirk will matchup against Williams. Williams has sucked this year but it would be dumb to start Kirk. It has to be either Al, NY, Gee, or Booker. Either way I expect to see alot of Zone this game. The Gil-JJ matchup will be special. Both have there advantages. I wouldve taken Gil in his prime easily because he would blow past a 6'8 guy like it was nothing & finish at the rim. He still can dribble past you when he wants even though he lost a step but the problem is he cant finish. Maybe he can do some drive & dish or kicks.

This is our chance to make a statement. We have a National TV game, our 1st game with the Gil-Wall backcourt, we have 3 games around with the top 3 in our division and 3 of the top teams in the East, and we can shut Barkley up for clowning us. I think we will show up. I think we will run, look very exciting, and come away with the victory

Posted by: dlts2041 | November 25, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge washingtonpost.com's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.




characters remaining

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company