The NBA has fined John Wall $15,000 for “directing inappropriate comments” toward referees after the Wizards’ 98-85 loss on Wednesday to the Charlotte Bobcats. Wall visibly expressed his anger over failing to draw foul calls for much of the night but was especially upset when officials whistled him for fouling Bobcats guard Kemba Walker on a three-point attempt in the fourth quarter that turned out to be the game-altering play.
The Bobcats led 83-80 with 4 minutes 34 seconds remaining when Walker pulled up with the shot clock winding down. Wall closed in on Walker, raised his hand to contest but didn’t believe that he made contact. After getting called for the foul, Wall hopped around in a circle with his hands in the air, flabbergasted by the whistle.
“You seen it on the screen. I didn’t touch him. All he did was scream,” Wall said. “The ref gave him a call all night because he was screaming.”
Coach Randy Wittman was assessed a technical foul for arguing the call and Walker made all four free throws, which ended up being the decisive points and too much for the Wizards to overcome. Wall then drew a foul on a next play but missed his only two free throw attempts of the night. The all-star point guard averages a team-best five free throw attempts a game and converts 81.9 percent of them, but blamed his errant attempts on a lack of focus.
“I was really upset. I was mad,” Wall said. “I mean, I tried to make them but I was frustrated. I went all the way to the three-minute mark of the fourth quarter until I got a call. Plenty of times I drove to the basket and I think I should’ve been to the line plenty more. But those are the calls and decisions the refs make and all you can do is keep playing.”
Wall scored a team-high 23 points but went scoreless in the final period. The Wizards only attempted nine free throws, compared to 22 for Charlotte, and were also called for twice as many fouls (22-11). Washington hasn’t attempted more free throws than an opponent since a triple-overtime victory in Toronto on Feb. 27.
“I think they made some unfortunate calls plenty of times. But I think this was like a playoff game and they called it a little too tight with certain calls that didn’t go our way but that’s still not the reason that we lost.”
Wittman wanted to avoid any controversy when asked about what led to his technical, going with humor instead.
“I had a bad roast beef sandwich today and I told him don’t go to this deli that I went to,” Wittman said.
A first-time all-star, Wall has been frustrated all season about the lack of calls he receives when he drives into the lane, believing that he has been on the wrong end of some bad (non-)calls this season. He felt that Oklahoma City guard guard Jeremy Lamb raked him across the arm on a potential game-winning layup in an overtime loss to the Thunder and Denver guard Nate Robinson admitted that he pulled Wall’s arm on the final possession of the Wizards’ 74-73 loss to the Nuggets on Dec. 4, when Wall lost the ball and failed to get up a shot attempt. Wall has also had other incidents in which referees declared a double-foul, rather than pick a charge or block.
But no game brought out more anger and frustration than a controversial finish on Feb. 12 in Houston, when Trevor Ariza was called for a dead ball foul on James Harden in the final seconds that allowed the Rockets to score the final three points – on a free throw and driving layup – and pull out a one-point lead. Wall was perhaps more critical of the officiating after that loss to the Rockets, but NBA president of basketball operations Rod Thorn decided to hand out a hefty punishment this time.