A more passionate John Wall returns in loss to New York

I need to be more aggressive. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
I need to be more aggressive. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The Wizards led by two points early in the fourth quarter of their 96-88 loss to the New York Knicks when Bradley Beal missed a three pointer and Jason Kidd was alone, out front, on a fastbreak.

John Wall came from behind to contest the shot, slapping it as Kidd laid it up against the glass. Officials called goaltending, but Wall thought that he recorded a clean block. He leaped, pumped his fist, angrily stormed away and screamed before collecting a technical foul. Carmelo Anthony made the technical free throw to give the Knicks a 78-77 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.

“I thought it was,” Wall said, when asked if the block was clean. “I was tired. I chased him down. So, I thought it was a block. After I seen the replay, it was a block, but so be it, I’ll take my tech. I can’t do nothing about it but move forward.”

Wall is an emotional player and the Wizards are better team when that passion is channeled into positive energy on the court. The technical gave away a point to the Knicks, but it at least showed that Wall was engaged in the game and furiously fighting to compete for the win.

And that liveliness was a welcome alternative after a disappointing effort the game before against Detroit, as he was playing lethargically on the floor and caught brooding on the bench as he sat. Wall didn’t completely make amends for that outing against the Knicks, but he moved a step closer to resembling the player who brought an immediate jolt to a season that was steadily sinking south. He scored 16 points – his highest total since the all-star break – and added six assists and three steals.

Afterward, Wall explained that he had a take a different approach to break out of his recent funk. “I think just being more aggressive,” Wall said. “I think I’ve been too passive lately, the past couple of games, turning it over too much and being too passive. I just had to be more aggressive. Play the same way and try to make the job easy.”

With A.J. Price sidelined with a bruised right thigh, Wall was forced to play a season-high 42 minutes and that likely contributed to him missing 3 of 4 shots and committing two of his five turnovers in the final period.

Coach Randy Wittman “was asking me how I was feeling in the fourth quarter. I felt good,” said Wall, who also accepted blame for the loss after the Wizards scored just 11 points in the fourth quarter.

Wall actually matched his scoring total from the previous two games against Toronto and Detroit. He was able to get to the basket for layups, buried two pull-up jumpers and repeatedly looked for red-hot rookie Bradley Beal, who scored a career-high 29 points.

“That’s what he’s got to continue to do. Play, play hard, play through mistakes, play through missed shots, play,” Wittman said. “And I thought he did that. Things will turn, things will turn for the better. And if we continue, the attitude and the play and everybody on the same page like we were again, we’ll be fine.”

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.
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Michael Lee · March 1, 2013