Celtics-Wizards: John Wall makes the most of the biggest moment of his career
After a cold start, John Wall played hero against Boston
After the buzzer, John Wall stood on the scorer's table yelling at the crazed crowd at the Verizon Center. After his gave the Washington Wizards a 92-91 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of their second-round series on Friday, Wall made the most of the biggest moment of his career. He then delivered a post-game television interview in which he scolded the Celtics for wearing all black as if it was the Wizards' funeral. All of a sudden, both teams had to face the possibility of only playing one more game this season.
An hour earlier, this was almost unimaginable. Wall missed nine of his first 10 shots. He had just three points at halftime. A night after the Houston Rockets' humiliating loss to the San Antonio Spurs, Twitter was full of James Harden comparisons. Wall got going in the third quarter, though, and finished with 26 points and eight assists. Few will remember the cold start.
"Not too many guys can do that," Washington coach Scott Brooks said. "When I played, I missed two shots, I didn't think I was gonna make the next shot. But he's a winner. He plays to win. He's not worried about his stats. He's worried about winning the game."
Playoff basketball is largely about solving problems and overcoming adversity. The best teams figure out ways to win games where things aren't going particularly well. Wall's slow start was certainly an example of that, but there were bigger issues. The Wizards only had eight fast-break points, and they shot 5-for-24 (20.8 percent) from 3-point range. Forward Otto Porter was scoreless in 36 minutes, missing all five of his shots.
None of this was what Washington envisioned. Still, after trailing by five with a minute and a half left, Wall and the Wizards did just enough to win. Even the game-winning play wasn't executed as planned.
"The last play was really for me to get to the corner, and [Bradley Beal was supposed to] come open," Wall said. "But he didn't get the opportunity to get open. I didn't want to get a five-second violation, so I just came and got the ball from Otto. I just looked the defender in the eye and took a shot I work on. And it went in. And to get on the scorer's table, it's just how much love I have for the city, how much love I have for my teammates, how much fight we have. And never quitting. A lot of people have doubted us in this series. After we was down 2-0, a lot of guys doubted us winning this game at home."
The way it all worked out reflected Washington's resilience as a team. Beal finished with 33 points on 15-for-26 shooting, but he was 0-for-7 from deep before hitting a clutch 3-pointer. Wall said that if he was going to go out, he was going to go out firing. His 9-for-26 shooting mark doesn't look particularly pretty, but that doesn't matter much to the Wizards. What matters is that they avoided elimination, and they'll have a chance to advance to the conference finals on Monday.
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