John Wall has shown that he’s able to score at will when he has to. But we never saw a performance quite like his on Friday night against the Hawks in Game 6 of their playoff series.
Overall, he scored 42 points — a postseason career high — and dished 8 assists. Those are all excellent numbers of course, but there’s also the story of context. Wall scored 19 of those points in the fourth quarter, scored each of the Wizards’ last 13 points in the game, AND started this run of domination with a signature chasedown block. You can see his video highlight reel above (via FreeDawkins’ YouTube channel).
The Wizards were leading by as many as 22 points and never trailed during Friday’s game. However, the Hawks started the fourth quarter strong, turning an 89-82 deficit to a very manageable 93-90 margin with less than nine minutes left.
With just under 8:30 left, Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder was on track to get a fast break layup to make this a one point game when momentum was on their side. But then this happened:
Wall has blocked plenty of shots before, so this isn’t anything new in a vacuum. However, this play sparked his takeover for the rest of the game.
Right after the block, Wall made a driving layup on the following possession. Less than a minute later, he made a midrange jump shot to get the Wizards to a 97-90 lead with 7:34 left. From here, the game was back in the Wizards’ control, and it allowed Wall to really turn on the jets. He scored each of the Wizards last 13 points in the game, which happened in the last 4:33 of regulation.
When it was clear that the game was in hand thanks to his domination, Wall waved “goodbye” to the fans at the Philips Center:
There are many players who can make clutch shots during the playoffs. And the Wizards certainly made their fair share of them in each of the three seasons in the John Wall Era.
However, Wall never had a signature moment in the postseason where he simply dominated a game situation like he did on Friday. His performance also put him in the same breath as Michael Jordan and LeBron James:
In today’s NBA point guard “Golden Age,” Wall may not be the triple double machine that Russell Westbrook and James Harden are. He may not have the three point shooting range that Stephen Curry has. And he doesn’t have the convenience of having the NBA’s best individual player of the last 10 years like Kyrie Irving. But the thing is that Wall is an all-around talent who makes the right passes, the right defensive stops, and makes the right shots at the right time.
There aren’t many players who can put it altogether in one game like Wall can last night. It will be a special moment — and perhaps a turning point — in franchise history for years to come.