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John Wall Displayed Maturity in Attacking the Lane in Fourth Quarter Dominance

 

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John Wall imposed his will in the fourth quarter of Wednesday’s preseason game against the Detroit Pistons. The Washington Wizards point guard scored 13 of the team’s final 17 points, including a dagger mid-range jumper with 3.4 seconds remaining to cap the Wizards’ 102-97 win.

Wall started the final quarter on the bench but immediately took over when he checked in with 6:44 to go. Trailing 87-85, he drained a spot-up three to give the Wizards the lead momentarily.

From there Wall attacked the lane. He drew a foul on Pistons center Andre Drummond, making both ensuing free throws. He then attacked again, getting bumped by Pistons guard Ish Smith while converting the layup that regained the lead for the Wizards at 92-91.

Wall, who bulked up during his “Summer of Separation” in anticipation of absorbing the constant contact he gets when attacking the rim, was relentless driving to lane for scores on back-to-back possessions at the expense of the overmatched Pistons defense. The second, got Drummond jumping on the hesitation and  gave the Wizards the lead for good at 98-97.

Then with the Wizards leading 100-97 following Bradley Beal’s step-back jumper, Wall got the ball in his possession with the clock winding down. Smith was left on his heels with the threat of Wall driving to the lane. However, this time the Wizards star created spacing as Smith sunk enough, got just above the elbow and drained the game-sealing jumper.

In all, Wall finished with a game-high 32 points on 12-of-23 shooting (52.2%), nine assists and three steals while adding five rebounds in 32 minutes. He saved his best preseason performance for his last as head coach Scott Brooks told the media following Wednesday’s game that Wall will sit out the preseason finale on Friday against Guangzhou Long-Lions ahead of the start of the regular season on Oct. 18.

Wall’s aggression was a delightful sight. He has always had the potential to attack inside but injuries and fatigue have gotten in his way from consistently displaying what he is capable of doing. He closed the night attacking the rim for easier looks. He ate the ball and went at defenders even against help side defense. There was a commitment to be aggressive and finish at the rim. He understood him scoring was best for the team.

“I know I can score with the best of them, but that’s not my job on this team. It’s to lead this team, move the ball,” Wall said following the game.

Already the odds-on favorite to lead the NBA in assists entering his ninth season as a pro, Wall displayed the ability to score in the clutch looking for his shot, as the Pistons seemingly yielded tempting looks for the cerebral point guard. Using the usual approach to defending Wall late, play off him and seal passing lanes. Wall took advantage as the Pistons defense shifted, he attacked the gaps in the defense to get to the rim.

For a team that has struggled in recent past to close out games, the Wizards will only benefit from Wall keeping the mentality displayed in Detroit. His speed and court vision breaks down defenses, and now with him looking to attack the rim, he will be even more difficult to defend late in games.

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