John Wall Invites The Lakers To His Super Sweet 16 Party | Wizards Blog Truth About

John Wall Invites The Lakers To His Super Sweet 16 Party

Updated: February 3, 2017

To be honest, Wizards home games have been a little boring lately. For the first three quarters of their game against Los Angeles, it seemed like Washington was on its way to another run-of-the-mill home victory. Bradley Beal was on fire, scoring 19 first-half points on 5-of-6 3-pointers. The Wizards led comfortably, 58-44, at the break.

Ironically, right in the middle of Beal’s 3-point shooting barrage (he hit his first five), the field for the 2017 Three-Point Contest was revealed. Neither Beal nor Otto Porter, who leads the league in 3-point shooting percentage, were included. However, there was one player at the Verizon Center who made the cut: former Wizard Nick Young. Young, who said a fan told him during the game that he was selected, did nothing to justify his surprise pick. He shot 1-for-8 from downtown and Lou Williams joked after the game that the NBA should rescind his invitation.

Back to the game. When Washington took a 90-79 lead into the fourth quarter, their 16th straight home win seemed like a foregone conclusion.

That’s when the bench decided to add some excitement to the proceedings. The first two minutes of the fourth quarter were a stark reminder that this team’s success is heavily dependent on the continued good health of its starting five.

There is no sugarcoating it: Every player on the floor to start the fourth was bad. Trey Burke, Tomas Satoransky, Kelly Oubre, Markieff Morris and Jason Smith could not create a shot or even hold onto the ball.

“That was not a good moment for us tonight,” Brooks said about the bench’s fourth quarter collapse. “That was a bad stretch, they got physical and we just played scattered, and we can’t do that. We didn’t let the offense try to score. Usually we have Markieff that stabilizes things, and he had a tough game.”

Los Angeles cut the deficit to four, 91-87, after a Satoransky turnover led to an emphatic Larry Nance, Jr. fast-break alley-oop dunk. The Lakers fans, who had been relatively quiet for most of the night, were getting rowdy and Scott Brooks had seen enough. He called timeout with 9:57 remaining and relieved Burke and Satoransky of their backup duties.

Here’s the strange thing though—at least for long-suffering Wizards fans who are conditioned to expect the worst. A friend of mine, who also happens to be a Lakers fan, texted me, “Are you nervous?” My honest answer, “No.” Los Angeles had gained all the momentum and sucked the energy out of the arena, yet the outcome still seemed firmly in Washington’s control.

The sky-high confidence that Wizards players have talked about for the past week has trickled down to the fans. I guess a 15-game home winning streak can turn even the most pessimistic fans into believers.

But there was one main reason for my optimism above all others: he goes by the name John Wall.

I still don’t think people outside of D.C. realize how well John is playing. He is not just an All-Star. He’s the second best player in the Eastern conference. He can impose his will against inferior teams and single-handedly change the trajectory of a game, like Superman stopping a speeding train.

And that’s what he did to the Lakers. It’s not just that he scored 16 points in the final quarter. It’s how he scored. After Los Angeles tied the game at 91-91, Wall hit two long-range 3-pointers and bullied his way to the rim for a layup—all within a 61-second stretch.

When Los Angeles cut the lead to three with under a minute and a half remaining, Wall stole the ball and hit a mid-range jumper. When the Lakers crept back again, Wall hit another mid-range jumper.

Reminder: John Wall is not supposed to be an outside shooter. That’s supposed to be his Achilles’ heel. For years, people have said, “Man, if Wall could ever learn to shoot, he’d be unstoppable.” Well, guess what? He’s learned. And he’s unstoppable.

John Wall has finally fulfilled his basketball destiny and it is spectacular to watch. Well, unless you are a Lakers fan. And, per usual, there were plenty of them in the Verizon Center and they made their voices heard during Los Angeles’ fourth quarter comeback.

The Wizards players certainly noticed. But John Wall was having none of it. He said after the game that hearing the Lakers fans “kind of made me mad.”

And you don’t want to see Wall when he’s mad.

Wall paraded down the court after each made basket, proclaiming to all in attendance: “This is my city!”

Washington held off the Lakers run for a 116-108 win as he hit four free throws in the final 22 seconds amid chants of “MVP!”

It’s a Block Party. Who’s Invited?

In all this talk about John Wall, we’ve glossed over perhaps the best sequence of the game, which featured Bradley Beal and then—five seconds later—Marcin Gortat making game-changing defensive plays.

We begin with Beal. With 4:48 remaining in the game and Washington hanging on to a five-point lead, amateur film maker D’Angelo Russell raced down court for a fast break layup with only Otto Porter between him and the basket. What Russell did not know is that Beal was trailing the play and measuring his steps for a chase-down block.

Russell avoided Otto’s outstretched hand and put up a soft finger roll at the rim. Beal rose up and spiked the ball off the backboard like he was Karch Kiraly. The ball flew all the way beyond the 3-point line before Luol Deng grabbed it. Deng passed to Clarkson and Clarkson passed it right back to Deng as he was running full speed toward the rim with only Gortat in his way. The Machine slid to his right and fell to the ground as Deng barreled into him. Offensive foul. Wizards ball.

The Nick Young Show.

Nick Young is made for L.A. His lovable goofball persona wore thin in Washington because he was surrounded by a bunch of knuckleheads and the combination did not yield positive results. However, in la-la land, he’s found a receptive audience for his over-the-top antics. He even got himself a fancy fiancé for a bit.

But no matter how Hollywood he gets, Washington will always be Young’s NBA hometown. The city that knew him way back when and remembers all his embarrassing high school stories.

Maybe that’s why Young was not in the mood to reminisce with D.C. media during morning shoot-around before the Wizards game. Young took off running when reporters tried to interview the local boy who made it big.

Nick was a little more receptive after the game when I broached the subject of his hometown fans. Young declared, “They love me, man,” and claimed he saw a few jerseys with his name on them in the stands.

As much as the D.C. fans may love him, Young was not ready to discuss a return to Washington when his contract expired. “Aw, man … umm…,” Young said, before sheepishly turning around to see if any Lakers media or PR were listening (they were). “I’m not even talking about that tonight.”

Then, for the second time that day, he walked away from the questioning media, this time offering an upbeat, “Thank you all, D.C.” on his way out.

3-Point Contest Snub.

As mentioned above, the most accurate 3-point shooter in the league (Otto), as well as a past finalist (Beal), were not invited to the competition. Instead, Nick Young will be there. Young proclaimed himself the early favorite and enlisted Jordan Clarkson as his “rack man” to feed him balls in practice.

 Late Night Wizard Talk With The TNT Crew.

The national media recognition keeps on coming for the Wizards. After being placed in the top-5 in all three power rankings from, CBS, and ESPN’s Marc Stein, Inside the NBA host Ernie Johnson posed the following question to the panel on last night’s show: Are the Wizards for real?

The answer was a resounding “Yes,” with both Charles Barkley and Shaq declaring Washington the second best team in the Eastern conference. Kenny Smith was not ready to go that far, opting instead for the Raptors, but the message was clear: the Wizards are a true contender in the East.

Adam Rubin on EmailAdam Rubin on Twitter
Adam Rubin
Reporter / Writer at TAI
Adam grew up in the D.C. area and has been a Washington Bullets fan for over 25 years. He will not refer to the franchise as anything other than the Bullets unless required to do so by Truth About It editorial standards. Adam spent many nights at the Capital Centre in the ‘90s where he witnessed such things as Michael Jordan’s “LaBradford Smith game,” the inexcusable under-usage of Gheorghe Muresan’s unstoppable post moves, and the basketball stylings of Ledell Eackles.