The Grizzlies could do nothing to stop John Wall tonight
No Bradley Beal. No Nene. No Trevor Ariza. No Martell Webster. No AJ Price. No problem.
With almost half the team on the shelf with injuries or the flu, Washington Wizards point guard John Wall knew he had to take over the game tonight if his team was to defeat a Memphis Grizzlies team that came into tonight with a record of 47-22 and the top overall defensive ranking in the NBA. And that's just what Wall did, scoring on outside jumpers, midrange pull-ups and 19 of 24 free throw attempts to finish with 47 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds and only 2 turnovers. It was too much for the Grizz, as the Wizkids triumphed 107-94 at the Verizon Center tonight. The win improves Washington's record to 26-44, 19-17 at home. It was Washington's first win over the Grizzlies since 2010.
The outburst led Washington Redskins QB Robert Griffin III to take note on Twitter.
"I don't even know where to begin," Wizards head coach Randy Wittman said in his postgame press conference. He said the Wizards discussed playing tonight's game with only nine healthy players, emphasizing the need to believe a win was possible and playing hard and recklessly. "This is an incredible win for us," he added.
"That was incredible performance," Wittman said of Wall. "He carried us... That was incredible." Wall set or tied four different personal records tonight, with 47 points, 13 made field goals, 19 free throws made and 24 free throws attempted.
The Grizzlies were playing without center Marc Gasol and the Wizards took advantage early and often, feeding the ball into Emeka Okafor, who had a major strength advantage over Ed Davis. Okafor responded by hitting 9 of 15 shots for 21 points and 9 rebounds. Apart from Wall, Okafor was about all the Wiz had tonight on offense. Chris Singleton, starting for the first time since the Clinton administration, scored 10 points and grabbed 7 rebounds, while Cartier Martin scored 9 points and pulled down 6 boards off the bench. The Wizards were also forced to start Trevor Booker, who managed only 7 points and 4 rebounds.
The Wizards led by 2 points after one quarter, as he scored 10 points on 5-7 shooting in the first. Wall scored another 16 points in the second quarter, including a killer crossover dribble leading to a layup that tied the game at 55 heading into the locker room.
Wizards scored the first 8 points of the third quarter to take a 63-55 lead before Ed Davis hit two free throws and Tayshaun Prince cut the lead to four with a short hook shot. However, Garrett Temple spotted up in the corner and John Wall found him behind the three point line. Temple hit the shot and the Wiz went back up by 7. The Grizz answered immediately with their own three to get the lead back to four. Mike Conley got a layup blocked by John Wall, but Prince grabbed the rebound and put in an unopposed layup to cut tthe Wizards lead to two with 5:32 left in the third quarter.
The Wizards called timeout to regroup, but Chris Singleton committed an offensive foul to turn the ball over, but Quincy Pondexter committed an offensive foul on Cartier Martin. On the other end Emeka Okafor made a power move to the basket for a layup and drew a foul. He missed the free throw, but the lead was back up to four at 68-64. The Wizards fed the ball to Okafor again and he hit a short hook in the lane over Davis to put the Wiz up by six. Mike Conley caught a screen and hit an open jumper to knock the lead back down to four.
The Grizz tied the score at 72 before Wall fed Kevin Seraphin for a short jump hook in the lane. However, Jan Vesely fouled Jerryd Bayless on a drive in the paint and the Memphis guard hit both free throws to tie the game at 74. Wall drove to the lane and drew a foul from Bayless, hitting both free throws to give the Wiz a two point lead. The shots gave Wall 30 points on the game, a new season high. Neither team could do anything with their final possession of the quarter and the game went to the fourth quarter with the Wiz up 76-74.
The Grizzlies hit the first shot of the fourth quarter to tie the game, but Wall hit an 18-foot jumper to put the Wiz back up and then led a one-on-three break and the Grizzlies paid him the honor of fouling him as he shot a 14-foot pull-up despite having the advantage of numbers. Wall hit both free throws to give him 34 points and the Wizards a four point lead. Austin Daye responded with a fadeaway shot to cut the lead to two, but Cartier Martin got his first field goal of the game with a nice drive and score at the hoop.
Cartier Martin hit a 3-pointer to put the Wiz up by five before the teams traded turnovers and John Wall was fouled driving to the hoop for a dunk. Wall made only one of two free throws, putting the Wiz up by six. The Wiz went up by ten, 91-81, when Cartier Martin hit an open 3-pointer off a missed layup by Mike Conley. It looked like Wall and Conley got their legs caught up together after Conley stole a lazy pass and drove to the hoop, but no foul was called and Martin took advantage of the open look. Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins went berserk on the sidelines at the non-call, but was forced to call a timeout to gather his troops as the Verizon Center crowd erupted. The ten point lead was Washington's largest of the game to that point, the result of a 9-3 run over 2:20 of court time.
Wall got a new career-high of 40 points moments later when he hit a fadeaway 20-footer with a hand in his face as the shot clock expired. It was a truly clutch shot by a player bailing out his team on a key possession. The shot put the Wiz up 94-83. On th other end Zach Randolph got called for a foul and a technical foul when he slapped the ball out of Chris Singleton's hands after the play was concluded. Wall hit the free throw to put the Wiz up 95-83 and then Singleton hit one of two to give the Wiz a 13 point lead.
Jerryd Bayless scored quickly on a layup to cut the lead to 11 with 3:30 left and then the Wiz turned the ball over on a pass into Okafor. A 3-pointer by Quincy Pondexter cut the lead to 8 before Wall got fouled on a drive and the Wizards called timeout to give their star guard a rest.
However, Wall misssed both free throws, a sure sign of fatigue and the Wiz eight point lead looked precarious. Bayless hit two free throws on the other end to cut the lead to 96-90 with 2:30 left. Singleton traveled on the other end, the 12th Wizards turnover of the game. Bayless hit a fadeaway jumper to cut the lead to four before the Wiz called timeout. The Grizz used a 9-0 run in little over a minute to seize control of the game.
The Wiz fed the ball into Emeka Okafor and he made a good spin move on Davis to draw the foul and get to the line. Okafor hit both free throws to put the Wiz up by six with two minutes left. However, Bayless hit another outside shot to cut the lead to four again. Wall dribbled around and drew the double team and fed Okafor open at the top of the key. Okafor sunk the shot to give the Wiz a six point lead. Bayless drove to the hoop and missed a layup as Okafor defended the basket. Ed Davis was called for his 5th foul going over the back of Trevor Booker for the rebound. Booker, a 57 percent free throw shooter on the season, hit one of two to put the Wiz up 101-94 with 1:24 to play. The Grizz called timeout.
Bayless tried to draw a foul on a shot, but the shot missed badly and no foul was called, probably because it was Bayless who jumped into the defender. Wall drew yet another foul, this one from Darrel Arthur, who fouled out on the play. In addition, a Grizzlies assistant coach drew a technical foul and Wall calmly sank the shot for an eight point lead. He then cooly sank hit both free throws from the Arthur foul to increase the lead to 104-94 thanks to a 6-0 run in 25 seconds.
Bayless got another shot blocked as he drove to the hoop, effectively sealing the game. Wall then crushed the life out of Memphis by hitting a 3-pointer as the shot clock expired, leading game announcer Steve Buckhantz to shout "DAGGER!" in jubilation. The Wiz stole the ball on the other end and ran out the clock as Wall sauntered around the court, urging the crowd to cheer louder. The Wiz finished the game on a 9-0 run.
Washington's aggressiveness on offense was critical to winning the game, as the team hit only 7 shots from the field in the fourth quarter, but made up for it by sinking 14 free throws.
There has been a lot of talk lately about whether or not John Wall deserves a max contract from the Wizards -- much of it coming from Wall himself. There has been no shortage of doubters, but tonight Wall shut the doubters up for one night, at least.