Deep breath, folks. This recap roundup is going to be long. Thanks, John Wall, for scoring 47 points on the Memphis Grizzlies.
We have tons of excellent stuff in our StoryStream, including highlights, video breakdowns and first-hand coverage, so please click in and check those out. I'm really proud of what's written in there, and we still have more coverage planned. In addition, check out the postgame interviews with Wall, Trevor Booker, Randy Wittman, Emeka Okafor and Chris Singleton on Monumental Network.
"I could have 52 if I had made my free throws," said Wall, whose output ranks as the third-highest point total by an NBA player this season. "But so be it."
"I think he's showing you right now what he can be," Wittman said when asked if Wall was a franchise player. "You don't really understand what he went through this year. It's tough to sit for three and a half months and not do anything. And then I get him, the doctor says I can play him and I throw him to the wolves.
"Everybody goes, ‘Why is he up and down?' It's hard," Wittman continued. "I had to be patient, too. I had to make sure he was patient."
We have now won six straight games at home, and we are 19-17 at home this season. We are five games over 500 since John Wall returned to the lineup. That winning percentage would place us at about the seventh spot in the East for a playoff spot. I am proud of John Wall. He carried us on his back last night to victory. It was electrifying.
"Whenever you're in your zone or you're in a great rhythm, like I've been these last couple months, you don't feel nobody can guard you no matter who it is," said Wall, who initially faced Mike Conley but then Tony Allen, an All-NBA First Team defender last season.
Conley could only shake his head at Wall's performance.
"When somebody has got it going like that, there is really nothing you can do," he said. "You just put a hand up and hope he misses. ... We threw everything we had at him and he made the plays."
While Wall no doubt put the Wizards on his back, he knows that he couldn't have pulled off this win alone.
"I couldn't have done it without my teammates though, they stepped up-Emeka (Okafor) had 21 and Cartier (Martin) made big shots. Everybody contributed in this win today."
Wall said it was his way of paying back the Wizards (26-44) for having been ejected in a loss at Golden State two nights before and further proof of his comeback after missing the first 33 games of the season.
"I'm doing everything that I worked on this summer, doing it right now," Wall said. "It sucks that it had to be like the last month or two of the season to finally find my rhythm, but I'm just showing my hard work is paying off."
"John was incredible," Wizards head coach Randy Wittman said after the game. " I've witnessed a lot of games, I've played with some pretty good players, I've coached some pretty good players. That was an incredible performance for him. We jumped on it and he carried us."
Yep, John Wall scored a lot and stuff. Specifically, 19 points came from the free throw line (where he missed five), six points came at the rim, and the rest came via jumpers-from 17, 16, 19, 20, 13, 16, 26, 20, 18 and 27 feet. Very Watergate.
For moments at a time during his interview, Wittman struggled to find words to define John Wall's performance. And when you glance at it from Wittman's perspective, you'd wholly understand. I mean, he's been through it all with John. The endless stretch of time spent recovering from a post-stress fracture in his knee; the scrutiny of critics constantly questioning his game and his potential to be a franchise player; will he or will he not turn the corner in his 3rd year; and of course, the constant chatter about his worth and whether he deserves a max deal.
Well, one thing we do know for sure is John's WILL. His WILL to suppress all the circulating doubts about him and the commitment to turning his naysayers into crickets. Those instincts and emotions run deeper than we know, but the important thing is that we got to witness the gratifying outcome of those emotions tonight against the Grizzlies. Please pardon the Shakespeare moment.
It's hard to describe exactly how incredible John Wall's play was tonight, but I'll try. First, John Wall played all but three minutes of tonight's basketball game, as he was needed in almost every minute of it. Second, this Grizzlies team is one of the best defenses in the NBA. Tony Allen, who covered John Wall for most of the night, is one of the best, if not the best, shut down perimeter defenders in the league. Per Beckley Mason from ESPN, no player had scored 40 points against the Grizzlies since Westbrook did in the 2011 playoffs. So while John Wall scoring 47 points is incredible, John Wall scoring a career high of 47 points on 22 shots without his top floor spacers is almost unfathomable. Wall looked the part of take over superstar, from hitting long jump shots, cross court passes to open shooters for three, to acrobatic and one moves indescribable layup/up and under combos. And when the Grizzlies started to recognize they couldn't leave Wall open for the jumper, he used his speed to blow by a closing defender, draw contact, and get to the line.
It's laughable to put Wall in the same stratosphere as Westbrook and Harden.
It definitely was last week. But now here we are, digesting another unreal performance from Wall in a month full of them, and the question's not so easy.
As you can see, Wall shot uncharacteristically well from several spots on the floor. On the other hand, the sample sizes in each area are small enough that the percentages aren't entirely outlandish - it's possible to imagine him hitting two of three jumpers from the left elbow even though he struggles from that spot. Plus, the right elbow, from which he hit all four of his jumpers, has been one of his most dependable shots on the season. A charitable view says that Wall performed to the best of his consistently present abilities. He got lucky, but it's not as if everything was a fluke.
A key to Wall's improved play has been his shooting percentage rising to 52.3 percent from the field and 50 percent (on limited opportunities) from 3-point range. His effective FG% of 54.1 percent is a huge leap from 40.5% in January and February combined. Wall's shooting has improved from every spot on the floor. In March he is shooting 57.4 percent inside the restricted area with nearly a third of his attempts (31.8 percent, 68-of-214) coming at the rim.
Wall is finishing at a rate of 58.5 percent in the restricted area in March, which helps open up his game for the pull-up jumper that he's beginning to knock down from midrange. This month, he's making 47.8 percent of his shots from 8-16 feet and 48.6 percent of his shots from 16-24 feet. The rhythm of his jumper has made up for his still chaotic form. He's learned how to get himself balanced off the dribble in order to square up to knock down the jump shot.
He has a true shooting percentage of 60.3 percent this month.
That 15-to-18 foot range was a game-changer for Thunder guard Russell Westbrook, who honed in on pull-up jumpers last season to improve his mid-range shooting from the mid-30s earlier in his career to 43 percent last year, according to HoopData. Westbrook's numbers in that range have regressed this season, but defenders seem to respect those looks in a way they might not have previously. Having that weapon in the arsenal opens up attacking opportunities, as defenders who are forward on their feet anticipating a stop-on-a-dime pull-up are more susceptible to the blow-by to the hoop off the dribble.
Wall, like Westbrook, is always going to butter his bread at the rim and by getting to the free throw line. Monday night's completely en fuego mid-range shooting clearly isn't a reasonable expectation going forward, but the more methods he has for setting up his higher-percentage looks, the more effective and consistent he will be as a scorer. A respectable jumper will draw help additional attention from help defenders, too, making him that much more dangerous as a play-maker.
His shots from the field were fairly well spread out - 3-of-5 in the restricted area, 2-of-4 from three. So many of us have said over the past few years "if he could just start hitting his jumpers..." well he is. And the Wizards are winning because of it.
I'm still frustrated, because look, regardless of how many points John Wall scored last night -- and he scored 47, for those of you following at home, yes, forty-seven points against one of the (supposedly) best defenses in the league -- regardless of how many points Wall was able to hang on the Grizzlies, Memphis only trailed 96-92 with 2:02 left in the game. A four point deficit, and the Griz had two whole minutes to make it up, and instead, they got outscored 11-2 in the last two minutes of a close game.
Disgusting game, just disgusting.
Beyond disgusting, though, is the alarming lack of composure the Grizzlies showed when they became frustrated. ZBo and Hollins were both t'ed up. It's understandable, given that ZBo has been getting knocked around like a hacky sack in the parking lot of a Phish show for the last couple weeks and has not been getting calls, but it's still not something he needs to let get to him. He's certainly unafraid of contact...he's just in a rough patch. Maybe Hollins just let out a few magic words at the end of a frustrating game, who knows.