It was a triumphant return for John Wall, who posted 14 points, two rebounds, four assists and multiple highlight reel plays in his return off the bench Saturday night against the Atlanta Hawks.
Oh, and the Washington Wizards won their second game in a row, 93-83, but who really cares? John Wall.
Washington, D.C. waited almost four months for the return of their former first overall pick. The third year guard out of Kentucky is arguably one of the best creators in the league and after seeing the way rookie Bradley Beal has played since the middle of December, you can imagine many were licking their lips to see them on the court together. Well, Wall had one thing to say to anyone watching tonight.
“Ah, yeah [‘I’m Back’] is what I was saying the whole time ,” Wall said following the game. “To anybody, I was just happy to be playing basketball so whoever was in my way that is what I was saying.”
There certainly were not a lot of people in Wall’s way for part of the night, as he made several cuts to the basket for layups and helped make space for other players on the court. With him back, Martell Webster says the team plays totally different.
“Did you see what he … it’s like he parted the Red Sea out there. He [was] telling everybody to spread out and that court [was] wide open, you could have a picnic in there,” Webster said. “He completely changes the dynamics of this team.”
Wall was clearly the story and he is most likely going to make the SportsCenter top-1o at least once, but there are two plays that stick out from his outing.
The best is by far a dish Wall had to Beal who put on some Moon Shoes to launch for a huge “show me” jam putting the Wizards up 27-17 towards the end of the first quarter. His second best play of the night came when he threw a behind-the-back pass to Trevor Ariza that made it 93-81 and really sealed the game for the Wizards.
Those are highlight plays though, the most impressive ones for Wall all came in the fourth. The first when he hit a reverse layup to send the Verizon Center crowd into a frenzy, the second when he did an absolute ankle-breaking crossover on a drive down the lane for a lay-in. Those are impressive, solely for understanding the injury he is coming off of. It is the crossover specifically, that shows he is close to completely healthy.
“I think about another week, a couple more practices, a couple more games,” Wall said about when he will be fully healthy. “Right now I feel like I have jiggly legs, so its tough. I got them underneath me [in the fourth]. [I] just [need to] keep taking caring of my body and get into better shape.”
Despite his electric comeback, Wall was not the best player on his team. That honor goes to Beal, who had ice in his veins several times throughout the evening, including when he followed up his huge dunk with a clutch jump shot. Beal finished with 16 points, tied with AJ Price for the team lead. Webster also had a strong game with 15 points of his own, although he did miss four free throws.
The team played well as a whole though start to finish.
“That good feeling of playing a really complete game,” Head Coach Randy Wittman said about the win. “Obviously we’ve always talked about ups-and-downs in a game and we of course had them here but we didn’t have any lasting bad spells.”
The lack of droughts is what helped them to their first winning streak of the year, even if Wittman says it takes three games to make it a winning streak. Washington has a chance to make it just that, three in a row, when they welcome the Orlando Magic to the Verizon Center on Monday. Of course, at the risk of sounding cliche, the real story Monday is seeing what other magic Wall can make in his second game of the year.