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John Wall’s Game-Winner Helps Wizards Escape Bulls’ Trap

Wizards 101
Bulls 99

January 10, 2017 – Verizon Center, Washington, DC

NBA Stats Box Score

Just call them the comeback kids. For the ninth time this season, the Washington Wizards came back from a double-digit deficit to win a basketball game. Last night was seemingly the hardest yet, as the 18-point comeback over the Bulls was their biggest of the season. The Bulls were undermanned but the Wizards still found a way to make it interesting. Thankfully, at the under of the night the home team won their 10th straight at Verizon Center and got over the .500 hump with a 101-99 victory over the Bulls.

1st quarter

Things were okay early as the home team jumped out to a 19-12 lead with six minutes still left to go in the first quarter. Morris was feeling it, Otto was doing Otto things, Beal’s stroke was wet per usual. That was the last time things would go well until late in the game.

Rajon Rondo, a DNP coach’s decision for the previous five games, got an opportunity to play off the bench with both Jimmy Butler (ill) and Dwayne Wade (rest) not available. Chicago responded to the tune of a 24-7 run. Rondo had six points, three assists, two rebounds, and a steal in the final 6:31 of the quarter. Washington trailed 36-26 after twelve minutes of play.

2nd quarter

Chicago started the quarter with an 8-0 burst as Washington did not score until nearly 4 minutes into the frame. Portis hit a three, Valentine hit a three, Felicio had an offensive rebound and put back. Things looked bleak at the Verizon Center with Washington down 44-26 and searching for answers on both sides of the ball.

The end of the half was back and forth play. The Wizards went on an 11-2 run midway through the quarter to get things back to single digits following John Wall’s lone three-pointer of the game, but it did not last for long. Chicago responded with a 15-6 run and went into halftime up a comfortable 61-49.

John Wall with a tough layup late in the first half:

3rd quarter

For the second game in a row (Washington won the third 33-21 against the Bucks on Sunday), the Wizards had a strong start to the second half. Right out of the gates, they went on a 11-4 run that cut the Bulls lead to five and gave the home crowd hope that a comeback could be accomplished. A key moment in the run, even though the free throw was missed, was Taj Gibson becoming frustrated to the extent that he picked up a dumb technical foul.

Chicago was able to push their lead back up to double digits, but Bradley Beal was going to have none of it. Once recovering from a defensive possession that had him fall and led Jason Smith to dive at the feet of a corner shooter, the Panda went on a personal 7-0 run to get the deficit down to four. Thanks to a pivotal Smith rejection leading to a Trey Burke three minutes later, Washington eventually overtook Chicago and went into the final quarter up 81-77.

The Wizards unleash the Panda:

4th quarter

It would have been smooth sailing if the Wizards simply continued the momentum from the third quarter in the fourth, but you and I both know that is not the #DCSports way. Early in the quarter, Chicago went on a 14-2 run. Washington gave up an open corner look to Bobby Portis and it was only a matter of time before the Bulls finally hit one in the half. With 7:35 left in the game, Washington found themselves in a 92-85 hole.

Markieff Morris came into the game a sub-30 percent three-point shooter. That was not the case tonight as he made all three of his deep balls including two consecutive looks following a Brooks timeout. Morris added a put back slam a few plays later before fouling out on an “offensive foul” that was simply not the case.

Back and forth it went. Gibson had a put back layup through contract to tie the game up at 95. Gortat had a put back lay in on a shot Wall barely missed (and of course did not get the foul call). Rondo hit a miracle step-back jumper to tie things up at 97. Lopez hit a pair of free throws to put Washington in a hole but Wall would come right back to hit a midrange jumper on Lopez off of a switch. After getting a stop, Wall had the ball in his hands as he usually does in end of quarter situations. He dribbled to his right, gained separation, and drained a fade away jumper with six seconds to go to give Washington a 101-99 victory once McDermott’s three ball hit iron. Phew, that game was intense to say the least.

#WizBulls in a Tweet

The Game’s Top Performer

John Wall – 26 points, 14 assists, 6 rebounds, 1 game winner

At this point, nothing Wall does is inconceivable but it is still something to marvel at nonetheless. In the early going, Wall was the distributor with six assists to no shot attempts and just one turnover. By the end of the game, it was time for the seventh-year player to take over and that he did. “Very confident,” Brooks said about Wall in clutch situations. “He is a winner. That is the bottom line.”

A forgettable night for..

The bench.

Ugghhh. The second unit strikes again. The bench combined for just 16 points, three less than Denzel Valentine, 19, had off the bench for Chicago. Jason Smith, Kelly Oubre Jr., Trey Burke, and Sheldon McClellan were a combined -52 in 73 minutes of play. On the bright side, Marcus Thornton did not play for a season-high third straight game due to coach’s decision.

Key Stat of the Night

Chicago, a team that came in shooting 31.6 percent from beyond the arc, started the game a fiery 8 of 10 from deep. That coupled with their three biggest shooters from 3-point land, Mirotic (186 3PA), Butler (135), and Wade (101), is beyond mind boggling. Luckily for Washington, and in the end the difference in the game, was the Bulls making just two of their 17 attempts from deep in the second half.

What’s next?

The Wizards jumped on the red eye up to Boston for tomorrow’s matchup with the Celtics (23-15). In early November, Washington beat the current three seed in the East 118-93 thanks to a career-high 34 points from Otto Porter Jr. Wall down played getting over the .500 hump by noting if they lose to the Celtics, they are right there again.

Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for Hoop District covering the Wizards. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland, College Park. Neil also covers the Washington Redskins for Breaking Burgundy and Maryland Terrapins for Testudo Times. Neil previously covered the Wizards for District Sports Page and is looking forward to bring his in-person coverage to each of the loyal Hoop District followers.

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