If you ask John Wall about the best point guard in the NBA, the answer you’ll get will be… John Wall. According to his last three games, including his performance, along with teammate Nene, against the Los Angeles Lakers, leading the Washington Wizards to a 116-111 victory, he’s not that far off from the truth.
Wall scored 31 points on 10-of-18 from the field, adding 6 rebounds, 9 assists and 3 steals, making it four wins out of the last five for the Wizards, improving to 6-8 after a rough start, adjusting to a team without Emeka Okafor and defense. He had plenty of help from Nene, scoring 30 points, becoming the fourth pair of teammates over the last five seasons to score 30 points each against the Lakers, joining Nowitzki-Terry, Durant-Westbrook and James-Wade.
What’s been making John Wall so good? He’s simply been a lot more efficient and smart with his shot selection. After hitting only 51% of his shots in the paint through his first 11 games and an overall 35.9% from the field. He was barely getting to the line (4.2 attempts per game), and the Wizards were suffering for it. The last three games? Averaging 33 points while shooting 61.4% from the field. He is getting to the line 10 times a night, and hitting 78% from the paint, leading the Wizards to wins over the Knicks and Lakers.
It doesn’t solve all of the Wizards’ problems, struggling when John Wall isn’t on the floor Eric Maynor played 11 minutes, scoring 3 points, and the Wizards are over 25% more efficient offensively with Wall on the floor than without him, averaging 1.062 points per possession with him compared to 0.85 without him. Their field goal percentage drops from 46.6% to 36.2%, and the assist per turnover ratio is also damaged when the former number one pick is on the bench, getting 10.3 minutes of rest a night.
The Los Angeles Lakers looked good offensively, but their defense is holding them back time and time again. Most of the news regarding the team over the last 48 hours had to do with Kobe Bryant getting a dream extension, keeping him as the highest paid player in the NBA, but the Lakers are trying to continue their relative success facing the unknown, with Bryant still at least two-three weeks away from his comeback.
Pau Gasol had another solid game with 17 points, 6 rebounds and 8 assists, while Jordan Farmar led the team from the bench with 22 points. At home, this kind of offense (53% from the field, 30 assists), is enough to beat most teams, but their defense continues to be one of the worst in the NBA, especially struggling when they’re constantly attacked on the perimeter, finding it very hard to handle inside-outside games like the Wizards presented, with Nene getting a career-best 30 points, and Washington scoring 56 points in the paint.
Mike D’Antoni – We have to learn how to win with this team. It’s just put together and we don’t have one thing that we go to all the time, but we’ll get it straight. They’re playing hard, and they’re together and we should have won tonight.