As John Wall approached the scorer’s table to check in for his first game of the 2012/2013 season, the crowd at Verizon Center rose to its feet and started a standing ovation that spread like the wave. Wall and the Wizards then gave that crowd reason to stand and applaud at the end.
On the break Wall dished a behind-the-back pass to Trevor Ariza who finished with a slam dunk to conclude the Wizards scoring in a 93-83 win over the Atlanta Hawks. The victory ended a six-game losing streak to the Hawks. The Wizards lost three of those games to the Hawks this season including two in overtime.
Here is today’s Wizards Report:
It was fitting that the Wizards wrapped up the game with a signature Wall fast-break. While the Hawks had the advantage overall in fast-break points 16-8, with Wall back the Wizards were able to play at higher pace and the spacing on the court was better.. On defense the Hawks had to respect Wall’s ability to drive and that opened opportunities for others to score.
To be sure Wall, who had been out since September with a stress injury to his left patella, had some rust. There were layups missed that Wall usually makes, but he still finished with 14 points on 5 of 11 shooting from the field in 20 minutes in the floor. Wall was stronger was the game went on and scored six points in the final seven minutes of the game.
“I think I just got my legs. I played seven minutes straight, that’s what I needed. My teammates trusted me and coaches gave me the ball and told me to make plays, and basically I did that.”
“These guys have got to be smiling with some of the shots that they’re going to get in transition when John pushes the ball up. There were a number of them tonight that were either kicked out to Martell (Webster), Bradley (Beal), or to a big down low. It’s going to help all those guys in transition. We want to be a team that’s up and down. We don’t want to be a team that walks it, and John now provides us that.”
Price is right:
Against the Hawks the Wizards used their 14th starting lineup of the season.A.J. Price made his first start since December 8th when he fractured his right hand against Golden State. While Price only had three assists, he helped the Wizards manage the game and only had one turnover in 26 minutes. Price also added 16 points. The Wizards built a 12-point lead in the first quarter and had the lead going into the fourth quarter for only the seventh time this season.
“Definitely new life for us. A sense of new breath tonight. It’s not a new season, but in a way it kind of feels like it because we’re finally full strength and we know what we’re able to do.”
All season long the Wizards have taken pride in being strong on defense. The Wizards defense has been good, but just not good enough to make up for their offense. In three of the four quarters Saturday night, the Wizards held the Hawks below 20 points. The Hawks outscored the Wizards 33-24 in the second quarter on the strength of six three-pointers. On the night the Hawks were 7 of 24 beyond the arc.
Obviously, we talk about ups and downs in a game, but we didn’t have any lasting bad spells. I thought the second quarter was really it. I think we had 10 turnovers at halftime, and I’ve got to think eight came in the second quarter. That’s the only reason it was 51-50 at halftime. I thought by our turnovers, we helped them get back in the game. We came out in the third quarter and moved the ball.”