Wall flashed a glimmer of hope for Wizards fans with 38 points. Credit: Brad Mills-US PRESSWIRE
WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- The Washington Wizards won, in my book. And you should count it as a 'W' in your book too.
If you walk away disappointed from Monday afternoon's 114-106 loss to the Houston Rockets, your expectations are completely out of whack, so much so, that you may as well not watch another game this season. Stop stressing yourself out over wins and losses because they are almost secondary at this point in time.
The Wizards are statistically one of the worst offenses of all-time and are very evidently a poorly put together roster. It took them 13 games into the season just to top 100 points. There are reasons to head home happy after losses in this 2011-2012 campaign; there's no need to be ashamed.
Why can we all be happy with this loss? Armed by the best performance of John Wall's career (38 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 steals) the Wizards actually played three quarters of inspiring basketball. They trailed by just four at halftime even with Houston shooting over 50 percent, and almost generated a memorable comeback. Wall looked like the number one overall pick this franchise has so desperately needed during the now 1-12 start.
"He was extremely impressive in how he played on both ends. John played with a great amount of passion," commented head coach Flip Saunders.
Before I shower lots of deserved praise upon Wall, there was a moment in which he royally screwed up. After an improbable 21-8 run, Washington trailed just 101-96 with a little over five minutes left. Wall corralled home a rebound, and started what looked like it was going to be a promising three-on-two fast break. But Wall telegraphed a would-be pass to Jordan Crawford right into the hands of Kevin Martin. That play sealed the Wizards fate.
Here's how/what/why John Wall was sensational Monday afternoon.
*His first turnover didn't come until the middle of the third quarter, and it came on a questionable call that could've been ruled a kick on Rocket Kyle Lowry. Usually, Wall's sagging body language accompanies his four-or-so turnovers. Not against the Rockets. Taking care of the basketball spurred Wall to play with certainty, the perfect amount of speed and as Saunders said, passion.
*Finishing. Wall made six layup/dunk combinations and missed just one near the bucket. According to Hoop Data, his shot conversion at the rim is still just 52 percent.
*Though they were mostly open shots, Wall was nailing jumpers, which to me was the biggest surprise of his outing.
By now you know that I haven't been the biggest John Wall supporter. I proclaimed that the Wizards shouldn't be building their entire future around the hopes of Wall becoming someone like Derrick Rose. I think Wall is better suited as the non-primary scorer. Against the Rockets, Wall shut me up, but I will stick by point number two in that article.
As amazing as Wall was today, he made two players on the court play better -- Jordan Crawford and Jan Vesely. Does Wall have the understanding to get JaVale McGee going when Wall is hot himself? Over time, that skill has potential to shine through.
The problem with every Wizard this year obviously has been consistently. 38 points isn't realistic to expect for Wall, but a string of 20-pointers would have the critics like myself silenced for the time being.
*The third quarter defines why the Wizards are the laughingstock of the entire sports world. In the blink of an eye Washington went from down 64-60 to down 80-64. McGee and Andray Blatche were both torched to flames on the defensive end by Samuel Dalembert of all people. The Haitian poured an unfathomable 14 third quarter points to ultimately devastate the Wizards.
*Some old school media types have a gigantic problem with McGee's off the backboard slam dunk. They say it displays lack of character and judgement, especially since McGee was having a stinker of a game. I'm in the opposite camp. McGee uses big plays like to get himself (and the fans) going.
Flip Saunders obviously agrees with the older media types and relegated McGee to the bench from 8:57 on in the fourth. Saunders cited his center's poor pick-and-roll defense as the reason he was parked on the pine. While McGee's eight points and 10 rebounds weren't necessarily terrible, it was quite the letdown from his dominance of the 76ers on Saturday.
*If Nick Young starts off a game poorly, he literally can't find his groove the rest of the way. A 1-for-6 start turned into a 3-for-12 finish and a seat on the bench next to McGee in the fourth.
*Jan Vesely's +11 was the highest overall scoring differential from a Wizard. I thought he defended Luis Scola as well as anybody on the team. It is becoming public knowledge that Vesely is a dreadful creator on offense, unless it's a fast break. I don't know if he will ever average over 10 points per game in his career. If Wall can throw together a few more games like he had today, Vesely should steadily improve.
"I just played basketball today, I think I made more jump shots and just found my way getting to the basket and the free throw line, but we came up short on a win." John Wall
"At times our defense looked really good but John Wall is kind of like a one man fast break out there." Rockets Head Coach Kevin McHale
"We got it down to five and then we just started making more mistakes. We have to capitalize more when things are going well for us." Andray Blatche
"No" Jordan Crawford on whether this can be considered a positive loss.
"You look at Chicago, a lot of times part of their bench finishes games. They can defend. We were having problems with defending [Kevin] Martin." Flip Saunders on why Maurice Evans and Jordan Crawford saw big fourth quarter minutes.