The Wizards collapsed to LeBron James and the Cavaliers Thursday night in spectacular fashion. They led by 16 points with just over six minutes left in the game. That should have been an easy closeout win for the Wizards. However, James completely took over and and brought Cleveland back for the win.
Wall had a chance to answer and give the Wizards a lead late in the fourth. He had James on him and had an opportunity to drive toward the rim to get an easy look, and maybe even draw a foul. Wall opted to step back for a jump shot and missed. This is understandable, because James is one of the NBA's best individual defenders and his strength makes it difficult for Wall, or any player, to get a good look in any situation.
What isn't understandable is what Wall did the following play. He had a chance to tie the game on the Wizards' final possession and once again had a shot near the rim. Instead of taking it, though, he attempted a wild kick-out and turned the ball over, which sealed the loss for Washington.
Wall was asked after the game why he chose not to attack the rim on the final two plays of the game. He said it had to do with him not getting the same calls as James:
John Wall: "When I turn the corner and get down hill, I don't get those same calls [as LeBron James] when people put their hands on me or contact me. I already knew the play before it when I drove on LeBron, I wasn't going to get a call so why even put myself in that position?" pic.twitter.com/KLGeJ7zLFS— Hoop District (@HoopDistrictDC) April 6, 2018
"When I turn the corner and get downhill, I don't get those same calls [as LeBron James] when people put their hands on me or contact me. I already knew the play before it when I drove on LeBron, I wasn't going to get a call so why even put myself in that position?"
Wall's comments here are interesting. He's saying that James gets the benefit of the doubt as a star more than he is in those situations. So he'd rather take a step back and not put the play in the hands of the refs when he might get fouled. He must think he got fouled when he was being guarded by James, because he applied that same logic to why he couldn't challenge Jeff Green at the rim on the next play.
Wall might be frustrated here, but James being more likely to get a call isn't a very good reason to avoid attacking the rim at the end of a game. He simply got beat by James on the first play, but the kick-out pass had nothing to do with superstar calls. It was just a bad decision on his part and it cost the Wizards a chance to tie.