As the digital clock above the whiteboard in the Wizards’ locker room read a few minutes past 10PM, John Wall still had yet to present himself in front of the media for his post-game Q & A’s. That’s when I figured he was probably a bit tired. After all, who the hell wouldn’t be after 41 enduring minutes of nearly single-handedly battling the wrath of inevitable misfortune that are depleted rosters in the NBA due to injuries.
John Wall absolutely dominated that fight. With only six teammates healthy or competent enough to ride with Wall, they certainly rode. As a result, Wall found them 19 times for scores, a career high. And John Wall getting a career high for assists in a game with only six guys playing is just about the most John Wall thing you can imagine.
Finally, a fully clothed John emerged from the training room and wandered towards his usual spot in front of his locker.
“When we play defense and give our chance to get fast break points…” Ah yes, he was still the predictable John Wall, going straight to defense as the explanation for the team’s success against Sacramento. And of course, it’s always “we.” What a darling. You’ve got to commend the humility, right?
But let’s be real. Damn talking about defense. Damn talking about anything unless you’re talking about about Wall’s flat-out unadulterated court supremacy. Unless you’re talking about Wall’s unsullied genius with the ball. Unless you’re talking about Wall’s resilience against complete roster depletion. No Bradley Beal? Make Garrett Temple work. No Otto Porter? Get a few shots to Kelly Oubre. No frontcourt depth? Work the shit out of Marcin Gortat on screen and rolls. And seriously, if the NBA established an official stat for missed assists, John Wall would be crowned the leader every year. And it wouldn’t be close.
From Bullets Forever, John Wall’s assist chart:
As the numbers show, John Wall was just a few wide open Garrett Temple 3’s and a few Marcin Gortat missed dunks away from 30+ assists. No real use in crying over spilled dishes, though. Wall was destructive enough, and especially when he needed to be. When Wall sat out the closing minutes of the 3rd, the Wizards allowed an 8-0 run by the Kings and were tied going into the 4th. When Wall started the 4th quarter, he promptly led the Wizards on an 8-0 run of their own in the first 90 seconds, tallying his 16th and 17th assists of the game.
The Wizards have been reduced by injuries for some weeks now, and last night was peak reduction. Gary Neal was a last minute scratch, taking away yet another scoring weapon from Wall’s arsenal. But Wall’s magnitude as an offensive machinist reached new heights. Yes, good defense opened up the fast break for the Wizards. Yes, Wall’s supporting cast – what remained of it – knew their spots on the floor. But when Wall acts as a puppeteer for opposing defenses like he did the Kings, nothing else matters.
It’s hard to say how much longer Wall can continue defying the reality of a critically impaired lineup. An accidental kick to the ribs late in the game doesn’t help, either. He’s playing sore. He’s playing on edge. He’s playing with purpose. The Wizards, despite being battered to the bone, are trying to climb their way back into relevance in the Eastern Conference and last night, John Wall proved there’s no better point guard in the league than him to lead their campaign. DC is his Sparta, and last night he proved that so long as he’s King, anything in his path can be defeated.
Last night proved, more than any other night has, that where there is a Wall, there WILL be a way.