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John Wall Reminds Naysayers How Important He Is for Wizards

john wall

After missing 28 games with surgery on his left knee, John Wall returned to the floor and his first game back, it appeared as if he hadn’t missed one game.

Wall started the game and played 33 minutes, posting 15 points on 6-of-17 shooting and dropping 14 assists in the Wizards’ 107-93 win over the Charlotte Hornets. The Wizards clinched a playoff berth with the win. They seemed to be an uplifted team, as their five-time All-Star made the game easier with his directing of passes and ability to draw collapses from the defense.

Wall didn’t ease his way in, as he came out firing full throttle. He knocked down his first shot of the game — a mid-range pull-up jumper. In the first half he posted 10 points and six assists, which could have been more outside of a couple of missed threes and three missed layups at the rim off his feeds.

Still his energy on both ends of the floor gave the Wizards control of the game. He drew the Hornets’ best offensive player Kemba Walker and helped hold him to 3-of-9 shooting and 11 points. Wall knocked down 2-of-his first three, three-point attempts, including a buzzer-beater to end the first half that closed their gap to 51-50.

In the second half following encouragement from head coach Scott Brooks, Wall picked up the pace. He knifed through the Hornets defense early in the third quarter leading to three straight three pointers by Bradley Beal. On two of Beal’s string of threes, Wall drove through the middle forcing the wing defender to sink on him, as Beal ran to his spots waiting for Wall’s dime. The third came off a secondary assist from Wall in where he forced the interior defense to collapse on him before dropping a pass to Marcin Gortat, who then kicked it back out to a wide-open Beal on the wing.

That stretch bust open the game as part of an 11-0 run by the Wizards, who took a 61-51 lead by the time Charlotte called timeout to regroup. The Wizards never looked back from that point.

Beal finished 22 points on an efficient 8-of-14 shooting, including 6-of-8 from three-point range. Otto Porter added a game-high 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting, including 6-of-10 from three-point range. The six treys were one shy of tying both Porter and Beal’s career-highs.
The two benefited the most from Wall’s presence. They did not have to worry about primarily creating for others. Beal got to his spots and knocked down jumpers off the catch-and-shoot. Porter at times made the extra pass or initiated sets with Wall freezing the defense on the weak side, as well as getting spacing to knock down shots.

In all everybody was eating. Marcin Gortat scored nine points with Wall having assisted on two of his four made field goals. Again, it was like Wall had not missed a day out of the lineup. The chemistry was fluent with the starters. He put pressure on the Hornets defense all night with his ability to drive, including a pair of layups where he broke down the defense to get in the lane.

That was what the Wizards were missing without Wall. The ability to create something that was not there. He did it all game. And the team was still a well-oiled passing machine, as the team had 30 assists on 40 made field goals. Every player that entered the game for Washington was even or positive in the plus/minus rating with Wall leading the way with a plus-16.

If Wall remains healthy with no setbacks, the forecast of the Wizards dramatically changes heading into the postseason no matter their seeding. Saturday was just a glimpse of how good things can be with their superstar leader. Life was easier, life was good, and it was a good “team” win.

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