The fearsome glare in John Wall’s eyes during the 4th quarter was enough to tell the tale of the Washington Wizards tonight. And what a night it was for our beloved star. From just about every facet and every cylinder of the game, tonight simply defined what kind of player John Wall is expected to be in this league. His skill set, passion, poise, resilience and ultimate WILL TO WIN steered his team to accomplish just that tonight, as the Wizards shed off a 3rd quarter meltdown to defeat the Bucks 106-93 at the Phone Booth. We’ll get to a lot more John Wall further down in the recap.
For nearly the entire first half of play of tonight’s game, the Wizards had the visiting Bucks under their control. Aside from sporadic buckets from Ersan Ilyasova, Monta Ellis and Larry Sanders, along with a brief scoring spurt from JJ Redick, the Bucks were missing a ton of shots in the first 24 minutes of play, while the Wizards were scoring at will.
And for the second consecutive night, Martell Webster came out the tunnel running and gunning, pouring in 13 points in the 1st quarter alone, including three 3-pointers. He had 17 in the half and finished with 20 for the game.
The Wizards took a 60-44 lead into the locker room at halftime and led by as many as 20 in the 3rd before the Bucks had just about enough. They answered with a stomach churning 25-6 run in a span of about 5 minutes to cut the lead to one.
After being outscored 32-15 in the 3rd, the Wizards avenged their meltdown with a dominating 4th quarter, lead by John Wall and....Trevor.....Booker? Yup, THAT Trevor. Book reemerged as a force on the Wizards front line with a hard-nosed performance as he snatched down 12 rebounds (6 offensive) and displayed plenty of that hustle and tussle we’ve all dearly missed.
This was definitely one of the more satisfying wins of season. More below...
Yeah, we’re going to keep the John Wall love train rolling into this segment. As detailed by Martell Webster in his post-game interview, Wall simply carried the team on his back. On a night where the Wizards were sorely depleted in the backcourt with the absence of not only Bradley Beal, but also A.J. Price, Jonathan Hildred rose to the occasion beautifully. He knocked down jumper after jumper (including another 3!!!). He zipped up and down the court with uncontainable speed. He sacrificed his body on the pavement time and again. He also had an intense exchange with his coach during a timeout, an exchange that apparently was the driving factor in the Wizards’ game-sealing surge in the final period.
And while all was well with John's game tonight, he did mention after the game that he's still working his way back into top shape with every game. After seeing this type of performance from him tonight, I sure as hell can't wait for that to happen.
John Wall: How about that defense? Wall was simply all over the court, stifling his opposing ball handler along with assisting his teammates defensively as well. Wall, who is generally hammered for his subpar pick and roll defense, had little trouble moving through screens and getting back to his man. And Brandon Jennings did very little to counter John’s aggressiveness, and his numbers showed.
Brandon Jennings: For the second straight game against John Wall and the Wizards this season, Jennings suffered a poor performance. Tonight he was only 2-for-8 from the field for only 8 points but did manage 10 dishes. For the record, here are Jennings’ season average vs. the Wizards this season: 3-for-11, 9 points. :-)
While John Wall was marvelous, you've got to offer some of that love to Garrett Temple. Temple played a season-high 41 minutes tonight, rising to the occasion when the Wizards desperately needed it. He finished with 13 points on 6-for-7 shooting. Temple knocked down a few jumpers, but most of his points came right at the rim in transition.
Trevor Ariza also played surprisingly well, considering he was a game-time decision nursing a knee injury. Ariza finished with 14 points in 30 minutes, continuing to help fill the void on offense with Beal out.
Once again, the Wizards couldn't complete a game without a messing with a man's emotions. Although the 3rd quarter was quickly forgotten thanks to a vengeful performance in the 4th, it doesn't erase the fact it happened. Outscored 32-15, the Wizards suffered through an awful lapse of turnovers, missed shots and bad defense. Coach Wittman, who was noticably pissed off, barked at his players during a timeout, which helped turn things around for the Wizards quickly and enabled them to finish the game strong.
J.J. Redick will never escape the wrath of DC hecklers. Fans barked at him all night long and at times Redick was even noticed responding. But the crowd really intensified their disdain for Redick when he was at the free throw line in the 4th quarter, a time when we all know the noise level of the arena is usually at it's peak anyway in hopes for a free Chick-Fil-A sandwich. With Redick at the line, not only was the arena noise blaring, but fans were heard collectively chanting "J.J. SUCKS!" as he attempted his free throws. Redick's first attempt bounced off the side of the rim, which as you can image triggered an even louder crowd noise for the second attempt, which he sunk. Oh well, guess what -- Duke still sucks.