Marcin Gortat was feeling vindicated about calling John Wall a "top point guard" on social media after the Wizards beat the Nuggets. After a game in which the Wizards blew a 23 point lead in regulation, then found themselves down by 7 points in both overtimes, John Wall showed why he is one of the best in the NBA in willing the Wizards to a 133-132 victory.
"John [Wall] was truly amazing. I'm glad that he had a game like that. He kind of backed what I posted on Twitter a few days ago," Gortat said after the game. "He is definitely the top point guard in the league right now. He is playing tremendous basketball. His finishes around the rim are crazy but he is capable of doing that. As a team we just play better every time he is leading the right way"
Leading the Wizards the right way was what Wall did most of the night against the Celtics. After starting sluggishly on Sunday against these same Celtics, the Wizards played sharp from the outset on the offensive end. John Wall managed a balanced attack with 10 points and 8 assists and the Wizards shot 56% from the field as the Wizards took a 58-45 lead into the break. Wall and the Wizards defense rendered Celtics star Rajon Rondo ineffective, as the Celtics star only managed 3 assists to go with 3 turnovers in a scoreless half.
The fun continued for the Wizards through most of the 3rd quarter, as the Wizards expanded their lead to as much as 23 points with around 2 minutes left in the 3rd, before unravelling on both ends of the court for the remainder of the game.
As much as you can credit Wall for the Wizards success the rest of the night, a fair share of blame has to be assessed to him for the late game collapse. In the 8 minutes he played after the Wizards reached their biggest lead, Wall coughed up the ball 4 times in the final quarter as the Wizards offense never seemed to get in sync down the stretch.
After the game, Randy Wittman talked about what allowed the Celtics back in the game. "Turnovers. We had six in the half first half, 23 in the second half and overtime, that was pretty much it. We just got complacent and a little satisfied. We were up 23, everyone went to the bench, and we kind of lost our focus of continuing to do the things we do."
The combination of the bench giving up points and the offense's carelessness with the ball gave Boston a chance to make this a game. An Evan Turner corner three would give Boston a chance to take it to overtime and shift momentum to their side.
The fresher legged second unit of the Celtics took a 7 point lead in both overtimes, but both times the Wizards came back behind the effort of Wall. In the first overtime, he drove sped ahead of his teammates into the Celtic defense, only to find a trailing Pierce for a game tying three.
The second overtime erased any memories of mistakes from earlier in the game. In true superstar fashion, Wall took over, showing he was the best player on the court and getting to the basket and finishing at will. By the end, he had scored the last 10 Wizards points to lead the Wizards to victory in one of the best games ever played at the Verizon Center.
For Randy Wittman, the best thing to do, even in overtime was just let Wall go. "It's great. It's what he can do. I didn't want to stop play, anytime we could get a stop, we were going to push it. Even under a minute. I had a timeout in my pocket but we didn't want to stop John in those situations."
Brad Stevens, whose players did want to stop Wall in those situations, found that it's easier said than done. "John Wall killed us in transition. When he flies down the court, it's so easy to say get back and get in front of him. A couple times we were almost back and we couldn't do anything about him and he finishes at full speed."
Paul Pierce, whose historic night passing Reggie Miller on the all-time scoring list against the Celtics was overshadowed by Wall's all-world performance, was also impressed with the Wizards point guard. ‘He's growing right before our eyes,"Pierce said, echoing comments he's made in the past. "Not only from a star to a superstar, but to one of the very best few players in this league at his position, if not the best. You can see it each and every week. He shows something to make you think, is he not the best point guard?"
After facing Orlando tomorrow night, Wall will get a chance to make his case against the player widely considered to be the best at his position, when Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers come to the Verizon Center.
On Monday night, he made a heck of an opening statement.