REACTION: Saved Day Undone | Wizards Blog Truth About

REACTION: Saved Day Undone

Updated: May 14, 2015
(Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

(Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

John Wall blocked Dennis Schröder’s game-winning layup attempt off the glass. Wall, just a few steps earlier, had jabbed the Hawks point guard in the hip with his broken left hand, which slowed the drive just enough for Wall to set his feet for takeoff. The ball bounced off the glass and into Nene’s mitts with 4.3 seconds to play.

About 48 minutes earlier, moments before tipoff, Wall winked, stretched his quads, and adjusted his right arm sleeve with his broken left hand. The Wizards won the tip. Wall deferred early, first to Beal, who ran the first offensive possession. But make no mistake: it wasn’t too long before Wall made his presence felt with a transition basket.

Wall would run again, this time with half the speed but twice the creativity, using an in-and-out crossover to convince Jeff Teague to lunge at a shadow, before finishing over a closing Kyle Korver with his broken left hand.

Wall would go on to set up a Bradley Beal fastbreak with a perfectly measured, high-bouncing pass. But Beal, perhaps looking toward the basket a split second too soon, couldn’t control the pass. The Hawks stole the possession and two points from the Wizards’ box score.

Wall, soon after, would dance into the paint, to the left (to the left), before scooting out for what looked like a routine elbow jumper. Having captured the attention of every Hawks player, however, Wall fired a two-handed pass to Otto Porter, cutting baseline behind DeMarre Carroll, for the easy bucket.

Wall, again, made another left-handed foray into the paint. This time at the expense of Schröder’s hips and ankles, pulling the strings to free Gortat for an easy 2 at the rim.

John Wall talked shit with a smirk to Schröder while Beal was at the free throw line. He then went right back to work and made a floater in the paint. Then another floater, easy and open, having created space with a left-handed hesitation move. His eighth point of the game on six shots.

Dribbling with his broken left hand without consequence, even with confidence, Wall found Gortat in the paint for a basket. Then he hit a step-back jump shot to give the Wizards the first lead of the contest. “He changes the game,” said TNT’s Brent Barry. “He changes the series,” corrected Ian Eagle.

Early in the third quarter, John Wall, as if he had eyes on the back of his head, threw a no-look, two-handed overhead pass to Bradley Beal for a transition bucket.

Then he swished another jump shot from the right elbow. He stole a pass. And then the Wizards, inexplicably, went away from the guy who was carrying his team with one broken hand and surrendered 10 straight points to the Hawks without scoring. They surrendered the lead, too, suddenly down three: 58-61.

But then Wall took a charge, a few possessions before bringing the Wizards within one point with a light-touch floater, 62-63.

“John Wall, that’s nasty,” said Barry as No. 2 ran a textbook pick-and-roll with Gortat, holding Horford in the paint before dishing to this right with two hands.

Then he did this:

A 12-0 Hawks run gave Atlanta a 76-73 lead with fewer than three minutes to play. Wall was charged with a turnover with about 2:30 to play—it looked, from my spot on the couch, that the Hawks had tipped Wall’s pass to Beal (1).

Schröder scored on the ensuing possession. Hawks 78, Wizards 73.

Wall, leaving his feet to contest, deflected a threatening pass from Millsap with his broken left hand, a defensive play reviewed at length which gave the Hawks the ball under the Wizards basket with nine seconds to play. Pierce deflected the inbounds to Horford and Wall responded again by recovering the loose ball and pushing the ball up the floor. Wall dished to Beal, who found Nene near the basket. Nene missed everything but the backboard. (….)

Less than a minute to play: Wall turned down a very open midrange pull-up after screen action and instead chose to hit Gortat in the paint, who turned and made a left-handed hook shot. Tie game: 78-78.

Al Horford missed a 21-foot jumper after a Hawks timeout—the rock rattled out. Wall dove to the floor to secure the loose ball and successfully called a timeout. Pierce sabotaged the next possession, leaving Wall and his broken left hand to defend a two-on-one against Horford and Carroll. He wasn’t able to and the Hawks took a two-point lead.

Wall had the first chance to answer with 14.9 to play, but he was fouled by Carroll soon after receiving the inbounds from Porter. With 12.4 seconds to play, Beal came off screen action near the top of the key, found himself near the baseline and Paul Pierce wide-open in the opposite corner. Beal’s pass was on the money and so was Pierce’s shot. The Wizards had a one-point lead.

That’s when the Wizards, up one point, found their fate in the hands of John Wall, in isolation, against Dennis Schröder. That’s when Wall rose to the occasion and won them the game, only to have Nene’s lead feet and loose grip concede possession and, as we’d find out moments later, the victory to Atlanta’s starting center.

John Wall wasn’t the best player on the court—he sometimes struggled to defend dribble penetration (what player wouldn’t with a hand tied behind his back?)—but he was the most important. It’s amazing he even played at all.

The Wizards needed this one. They had it. And they fumbled it away.

It could have been Wizards in 6. Now they’ll need 7.

  1. Unfortunate that possessions outside the two-minute mark aren’t valued as highly as others. Atlanta had two plays reviewed inside the final two minutes (one ruled in their favor), which, objectively, were no more important than that “bad pass” from John Wall, a play that may have been ruled incorrectly.
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John Converse Townsend
Reporter / Writer / Co-Editor at TAI
John has been part of the editorial team at TAI since 2010. He likes: pocket passes, chase-down blocks, 3-pointers. He dislikes: typos, turnovers, midrange jump shots.