Defenses giving Wizards’ Wall space

November 21, 2013

Wizards guard John Wall shot just 5-for-17 against the Timberwolves on Tuesday. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

By now, the scouting report on John Wall is pretty clear.

The point guard entered Wednesday’s game shooting 35.7 percent from the field, leading defenses to drop off him to keep him out of the paint and dare him to take jumpers.

With his shot again abandoning him for most of the Wizards’ win over Minnesota on Tuesday, Wall refused to take the bait. He instead looked for the hot hand, tying a career high with 16 assists.

And with his team down by one with 1:26 left, Wall finally found his stroke when it mattered most, burying an 18-foot pullup jumper to put the Wizards ahead.

“He missed a couple of jump shots, but he has to take those jump shots,” guard Garrett Temple said. “Because in the end, we’re going to need him to make one like he did [against the Timberwolves]. So he needs to stay in tune offensively, take those midrange jumpers when they’re giving them to him, but also … probe and find guys.”

Wall told nba.com last week that he was settling for the outside shot too much and needed to attack the basket more.

But with the Timberwolves doing everything they could to keep him out of the lane, he was more than content to find Bradley Beal and Martell Webster, who combined to shoot 7 of 13 from 3-point range.

“That shot’s going to be there every time for me,” Wall said. “I don’t have to take it every time, and I definitely don’t have to take ones early into the shot clock.”

Coach Randy Wittman said that if defenses continue to give Wall space and he has confidence in his midrange jumper, he should take it.

“If he’s not going to take it with confidence — and that happens — well then move the ball on to the next guy,” Wittman said. “You don’t have to take it, but I want him to. If they’re going to play him like that, he’s got to knock that down, and then it open things up.”

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