Emeka Okafor: Even though he wouldn’t admit it was just him in the locker room after the game, John Wall has really been the one factor for improvement with every single player. For the first part of this season, Okafor’s play was frustrating to the point where it even became infuriating. Since Wall’s return however, he’s been a double-double machine. Tonight was no different.
He managed to get 15 points and 16 boards in what was a brilliant effort on both ends of the court tonight. It was the first time that I could recall not ever worrying about if his shot was going to fall in or not. If he was within 15 feet of the hoop, he was going to find a way to grab that board, too.
His late game play was maybe the most important of all, however. As Chicago could not get their shots to fall late, even though they had cut the lead to 10, Okafor made the big rebounds to prevent the second chances and ensure the Wizards win.
Emeka Okafor: Emeka has slowly become a consistent guy to rely on to get you a double-double. Tonight was no different (as highlighted above). He finished 15 points and 16 rebounds.
Joakim Noah: Noah had himself a game tonight, and almost had himself a triple-double. He managed to get 17 boards, 10 assists and 9 points. In what turned out to be the battle of the big men, Noah asserted himself down low, but thankfully was not as big of a threat in the points department as he’s been in the past for the Wizards. The stellar Washington defense tonight which held him to under double figures in points has a lot to do with why this game was won.
John Wall: It took him a little bit to get going, but Wall had another impressive night scoring 15 points and dishing out seven assists. He started off the game dishing to Beal on a fastbreak for the Wizards first points and was a threat thereafter to automatically speed the tempo up and swiftly get by any defender.
He played aggressive—he was taking contested shots in the lane and drawing the fouls, he was catching defenders falling asleep (he snuck by a lackadaisical Joakim Noah who didn’t even think he was in the vicinity) and he was doing everything he could to ensure the tempo stayed in the Wizards favor. But not every single factor about John was good tonight….
John Wall’s Jump Shot: Look, he’s essentially been the savior to Washington Wizards fans lately, but there’s still something that’s greatly lacking in his play:
That damn jump shot.
He was 6-of-13 shooting tonight, and I believe that most, if not all, of his misses were his jump shots. This is something he really has to pound on during the offseason because it is really the only thing holding him back from being considered in the “elite” class of the NBA. Furthermore, he needs to learn that if he’s not consistently making those, he shouldn’t be taking them late in games. He missed two late in the fourth quarter tonight. Thankfully, Chicago couldn’t respond on the other end, but it still could have spelled disaster if Chicago had been on their A-game tonight.
Bradley Beal: Tonight just wasn’t his night. He went 2-for-10 on shooting for a total of four points, only had one assist and missed his only free throw. He was 0-for-3 from the three point line and he grabbed no rebounds in just over 29 minutes.
The December Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month just had a flat night tonight. It’s going to happen. This is something that he’s going to have to learn how to fight through, however. It would be helpful to him if Wittman would leave him in a little longer in these situations to get this experience under the 19-year-old. But to all you Wizards fans, I wouldn’t worry too much about his performance tonight based upon what we’ve seen in the past couple of months.
Every superstar is going to have a couple of off games—thankfully Wall and cast made up for him tonight.