Opening Statements: Wizards vs Suns, Game 26 | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Opening Statements: Wizards vs Suns, Game 26

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Updated: December 21, 2014

Wizards at Suns - March 20, 2013

You won’t hear John Wall admit to getting pumped for any matchup, even though we know he does. Going against Eric Bledsoe is a ‘thing’ for Wall just as much as—probably more so—any other prime-time matchup against the Chris Pauls, Derrick Roses, Kyrie Irvings, and Rajon Rondos of the league. The same goes for Bledsoe. Because when both he and Wall played at the University of Kentucky for one season, Wall was the starter (and later the NBA’s No. 1 overall draft draft pick) while Bledsoe was the backup, in Wall’s shadow, and later picked 18th overall in 2010. Bledsoe is no longer really in Wall’s shadow, having received his own five-year, $70 million contract last summer, although it wasn’t a max contract like Wall’s.

The two have met six times in the NBA, but only once while Bledsoe has been a member of the Phoenix Suns. The first five meetings came while he was with the Clippers, helping to explain Bledsoe’s 5-1 record against Wall. Bledsoe’s Suns beat Wall’s Wizards in Washington last March, 99-93. Wall had 29 points on 22 shots with six assists, four turnovers, two steals, and one rebound. Bledsoe scored 23 points on 18 shots with six assists, seven turnovers, six rebounds, and three steals—11 total turnovers; the two got a little carried away with each other. Bledsoe’s backcourt mate, Goran Dragic, also dazzled with 25 points; Bradley Beal shot 3-for-11 and scored eight points (he got injured in the first half and left the game). John Wall tried to lead a comeback but in the end the Wizards had dug themselves too much of a hole. Washington beat the Bledsoe-less Suns in Phoenix, 101-95, in late-January thanks to the herculean heft of the starters, who scored 90 of the Wizards’ points. That night, Beal was clutch. From Phoenix’s end, Bledsoe will guard Wall and Dragic will guard Beal—the Wizards will need their Big Panda to chew that bamboo and keep up the hot streak (and set the record for the best start in franchise history at 20-6).

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Instead of posing questions to a Suns blogger tonight (as time to do so ran out), we will simply drop some pre-game quotes from Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek. Scroll away…


Teams: Wizards vs Suns
Time: 6:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Verizon Center, Chinatown, D.C.
Television: CSN
Radio: WFED-AM 1500/WNEW-FM 99.1
Spread: Wizards fav’d by 6 points.


#1: On guarding John Wall and his improving jump shot:

Hornacek: “I always look back to when I played with Kevin Johnson. In the beginning he was so fast he could just get to the basket, and that’s what teams did, they went behind [the screen], made him shoot jump shots, and he’d be OK. And then all of a sudden he could make that shot all the time, and now he’s unstoppable. John’s probably getting to that point now where, ‘What are you going to do?’ Fastest guy in the league on transition, the way he can come off and get to that basket … him and (Russell) Westbrook and a couple of these guys, they’re hard to deal with. And when you’re making the jumper, as a coach all you can really do is trap it, but they’ve got enough guys around [Wall] to pick up the slack.”

#2: On if John Wall is a ‘real’ point (partially in reference to Gary Payton’s recent comments, partially just in comparison to the point guards of Hornacek’s era, such as one he played with, John Stockton):

Hornacek: “I think you got guys that are strictly a point guard, other guys that are kind of 2 guards that can use their scoring ability, and they still get passes. I think John’s leaning more towards the true point guard, a lot of time. You can see him scoring, but you can also see him where he enjoys making a pass to a teammate and getting them going. So I would think he’s leaning more towards the traditional point guard in that sense. He’s looking to get his teammates going, and then if it’s not there or they need some scoring, yea, he’s great at taking over and trying to score.”

#3: On what the Wizards do well defensively:

Hornacek: “I think when you have good young players like they have in John and Bradley who put a lot of pressure on guys, and then you have some smart veteran guys who kind of know where to go and how to move and where plays are going to end up, and they can read the situation. Then they got Nene and Gortat who can block shots, or both of those guys are willing to take charges. They clog the lane quite a bit that way, and then when you kick it out, they really close down hard. A lot of times it’s just hustle, anticipation, and determination in trying to make stops. And it looks like they have that going.”

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Kyle Weidie
Founder / Editor / Reporter / Writer at TAI
Kyle founded TAI in 2007 and has been weaving in and out the world of Wizards ever since, ducking WittmanFaces, jumping over G-Wiz, and avoiding stints on the DNP-Conditioning list. He has covered the Washington pro basketball team as a member of the media since 2009. Kyle lives in D.C. with his wife, loves basketball, and has no pets.