USA TODAY Sports
Rounding up reaction to Sunday night's 90-87 victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Here's your recap roundup for last night's thrilling-yet-harrowing 90-87 win over Philadelphia 76ers, which saw John Wall bury a dagger with 4.4 seconds to play, but only moments after Bradley Beal went down with what turned out to be a sprained ankle, somewhat of a best-case scenario given how ugly the injury looked at first glance.
All were needed on Sunday night, as the Wizards let an eight-point lead evaporate into a three-point deficit and then lost Bradley Beal to an ankle injury before Wall scored the game's final six points - two huge jumpers and two huge free throws - and recorded a game-saving blocked shot to secure a 90-87 victory at Verizon Center.
"I like the ball at the end of the games," Wall said after scoring a team-high 16 points with six assists and five rebounds. "With those type of plays, you want to be the hero. You want to have the pressure. Sometimes you're going to succeed. Sometimes you're going to fail, but as long as you have confidence and believe in yourself, you'll be all right."
The Wizards couldn't provide much more information other than revealing that Beal will be day-to-day after suffering a sprained left ankle and would be re-examined on Monday. Beal added that X-rays came up negative on the ankle, but he might not know how he really feels until he wakes up in the morning to see how much it swells.
Either way, he didn't sound too worried
Beal, who had 14 points on 6-for-12 shooting in the win, will get more tests Monday. He discarded his crutches to go to the shower. He also stood at his locker to change and put pressure on the ankle without a problem.
Earlier in the game, Beal was favoring his right (shooting) wrist. He had a hard fall in Wednesday's game vs. the Detroit Pistons, re-aggravating that injury that he incurred in January.
The injury marred with was otherwise an impressive performance by point guard John Wall, who rebounded from a sub-par six-game stretch, to tie with teammate Martell Webster for a game-high 16 points.
Wall showed more signs that he is snapping out of a recent slump when he turned a recovered dribble in the lane into a 360-degree layup to help give the Wizards a slim 50-49 advantage at halftime.
His 20-footer for the game's final margin came thanks to a crucial offensive rebound by Nene (15 points, nine rebounds), who returned to the starting lineup after missing the previous two with a sore right shoulder. A.J. Price also provided minutes backing up Wall following one missed game with a right thigh bruise.
''I've proven myself in college,'' Wall said. ''I just have to keep proving myself. I like the ball at the end of games. On those types of plays, you want to be the hero, you want to have the pressure. Sometimes, you're going to succeed. Sometimes, you're going to fail. As long as you have confidence and believe in your ability, you're going to be all right.''
Wall ended up with 16 points, six assists and four boards tonight. But most importantly, he seems to be getting the jumper down a little bit better. Other than an ill-advised three pointer in the fourth quarter, he was sinking a few of his jumpers, most importantly the late one to put the Wizards up by three with 4.4 seconds to play. He still seems to be trying to do too much on the fastbreak, often going for a contested shot rather than pulling it back and finding a better, more open look or the dish to someone else. With the way he's been struggling, however, it's nice to see him pull out a night like this.
As Washington started gaining momentum going into the final minutes, Bradley Beal went down hard on his right ankle and would have to leave the game with 2:06 left to play. With the Wiz Kids most prominent scorer injured, it seemed as though all hope would evaporate and we would lose yet again in the 4th. But our guy John Wall would not give up. After a missed shot on the opposite end, Wall broke out in full sprint to the basket and was fouled hard. He knocked down both from the charity stripe to give the Wizards the lead with 1:04 left in the game. The Sixers, of course, answered back to tie the game. Now, the scenario is that Washington does not have time for a two for one and our best scorer just happens to be injured. John Wall, out of all the people to hit a jumper, took the game into his own hands and knocked down the game winner with 4 seconds left giving Washington their 19th win on the season.
Continuing with the "defense is optional" mentality, the Wizards and Sixers continued to trade baskets in the third quarter. Washington finally established their presence in the contest late in the third. Highlighted by a Jan Vesely ally-oop dunk with Wall on the assist, the Wizards took a ten-point 70-60 lead. The Sixers started to close the gap to just two points, but another alley-oop slam by Vesely gave the Wizards back the momentum and a 73-68 lead at the end of the third.
That game was ... plodding with a semi-frantic finish. These two stalwart defensive teams pounded each other's willing offenses into submission. But an A.J. Price alley-oop to Jan Vesely to end the third quarter later ignited an entertaining battle between Holiday, Wall, and Bradley Beal (before the rookie sprained his ankle with two minutes left).
Jan Vesely hadn't played Feb. 8 but entered a game for the first time since at 4:58 of the first quarter. He initially looked shaky, getting a turnover and allowing Royal Ivey an offensive rebound and putback to trim the Wizards' lead to 18-17. But in the third quarter, Vesely was back. His lay-in on a lob from from Wall pushed the Wizards up 70-60. The Sixers aggressively trapped the ball with Vesely on the floor, but he also had a dunk to end the third on a lob from A.J. Price.
The game was tightly contested throughout, but the rebounding, specifically by Emeka Okafor, was a big difference. The wizards outrebounded the Sixers 50-42 and 13-9 on the offensive glass. Okafor himself had 16 rebounds, along with 12 points for his 16th double-double of the year. Wall had a complete game, scoring 16 points on 7/11 shooting to go along with six assists and five boards. He also held Jrue Holiday to just 4/19 shooting. All five Wizards starters finished in double figures as Webster had 16, Nene had 15 and Beal had 14.
Wall's presence has meant everything for Washington. He missed the first 33 games with a knee injury and the Wizards went 5-28 in those games.
Since his return, the Wizards are 14-11.
"We had some bad breaks, and John, like he always does, makes things happen, got to the foul line and made big shots," Sixers point guard Jrue Holiday said.
With the Sixers leading 87-84 with 1 1/2 minutes remaining, Wall made an 18-footer. He then put the Wizards ahead 88-87 with two free throws with 1:04 left.
Finally, Wall put the dagger in the Sixers by isolating, running the shot clock down to nearly its last tick, and then draining a 20-footer with 4.9 seconds remaining to seal the victory.
"We have some strange things happen to us in Washington," Sixers coach Doug Collins said. "All in all, we were in great position to win this game. We just couldn't execute down the stretch.
"You have to tip your hat to the Washington Wizards. They played great tonight. Our guys gave great effort."
The Wizards, rooted firmly in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, have already accepted their fate. The Sixers continue on through the tunnel of darkness in March hoping that the light at the end that signifies a playoff berth remains illuminated, however dim.
The two teams share the same frustrating acknowledgment that this year, once full of hope, is no longer the season they had hoped and expected and wished it would be.
And tonight, in a game decided in the final seconds of regulation by just three points, the Sixers saw across the court a mirror image of themselves and their roller-coaster season.
Finally, I wanted to point out two negative plays stood out to me while I watched tonight's crap fest and in some way are a metaphor for the entire Sixers' season to this point. The first occurred at the end of the first half. The Sixers had the ball with 27 seconds left on the game clock and a fresh shot clock. Holiday took the clock down and attempted a layup, which was off the mark, with about five seconds to play in the half. Nene then grabbed the rebound and launched a pass downcourt to a wide open AJ Price, who finished a layup at the other end (actually Wright chased him down but was whistled for a goaltending), a transition basket that Philly had no right surrendering. The second play happened at the end of the third quarter when Lavoy could have grabbed a defensive rebound with about 10 seconds left but failed to do so, giving Washington another possession. He then lost track of Jan Vesely, who converted an alley-oop dunk to give the Wizards momentum heading into the fourth.