Wizards’ John Wall says back feels “much better,” expects to play in Miami

November 3, 2013

John Wall expects to play tonight against the Heat. (EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS)

MIAMI – John Wall received treatment on his lower back once the Wizards arrived in Miami, slept with a heat pack on his back and had a massage when he woke up. Wall said he feels “much better” after experiencing back spasms Friday night and will be available when the Wizards play the two-time defending champion Miami Heat on Sunday at 6 p.m. at American Airlines Arena.

“Yeah, I’m ready to go,” Wall said after being a full participant in the morning shootaround.

The Wizards will likely be without center Nene, who has been sidelined since injuring his left calf on Wednesday in the season-opening loss to Detroit. The pain has also led to soreness in his left Achilles’ and forced him to miss the 109-102 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in Friday’s home opener.

Wall attempted to take a charge on 76ers point guard Michael Carter-Williams late in the third quarter. He fell on his backside after being assessed a personal foul and Coach Randy Wittman immediately replaced him with Eric Maynor. After the game, Wall could barely take a step without grimacing.

“I don’t really know where it came. I know I was sitting there at the eight minute, seven minute timeout and it was just tightening up,” Wall said. He called on Thomas Knox, the director of player performance and rehabilitation, to stretch him out “because I was so sore.”

Wall said he planned to continue applying heat on his back. “I know definitely I got to keep a heat pack on it. It’s like, when you sit for a while, you don’t got nothing on you and it gets cold it gets stiff again. The main thing is just to keep the heat on you.”

The Wizards are 0-2 for the fourth straight season, but Wall said the players remain positive because they have been uncharacteristically poor on the defensive end, surrendering a league-worst 111 points per game.

“We know what we’ve got to do. It’s play defense. That’s what our team is,” Wall said. “Coach Witt wants us to be known for playing defense and that’s what we were capable of doing last year and we was a pretty good team and we was winning games. That was from playing defense and this year, we ain’t playing no defense and that’s why we can’t win no games. Give a lot of credit to the Sixers, they’re 3-0, came back to win another game. Offense will come our way, fast breaks and all the easy shots. We’ve just got to be confident, don’t hold our heads down if we miss a couple of shots and play defense.”

Wall also took responsibility for the Wizards’ early struggles. “It starts with me,” he said. “I’m the head of the snake on defense and offense and in the second half of the Sixers game, I wasn’t playing the same defense that I did in the first half. That’s one thing coach said, just play both ends the whole 48 [minutes]. We haven’t played a game, 48 minutes yet, where we play defense. When you don’t do that, teams find a way and get a lot of courage and feel like they can stick around and win games and that’s what happened the last two games.”

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.
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Michael Lee · November 3, 2013