All were needed on Sunday night, as the Wizards let an eight-point lead evaporate into a three-point deficit and then lost Bradley Beal to an ankle injury before Wall scored the game’s final six points — two huge jumpers and two huge free throws — and recorded a game-saving blocked shot to secure a 90-87 victory at Verizon Center.
“I like the ball at the end of the games,” Wall said after scoring a team-high 16 points with six assists and five rebounds. “With those type of plays, you want to be the hero. You want to have the pressure. Sometimes you’re going to succeed. Sometimes you’re going to fail, but as long as you have confidence and believe in yourself, you’ll be all right.”
Beal had 14 points before going down and had to watch the rest of the game in the training room. He said the X-rays didn’t reveal any serious damage, but was moving throughout the locker room on crutches after the game. He will be evaluated further on Monday.
“Whenever you have something like that, like an ankle sprain, it feels bad. I’m thankful it wasn’t my knee or anything too serious,” Beal said. “I’m grateful I have my teammates to have my back. John definitely made some big shots down the stretch. I’m glad they stuck with it.”
In the first six weeks after returning from a stress injury in his left knee, Wall had shown flashes of his ability and brought a jolt to a team that had been wallowing below mediocrity for some time. The Wizards (19-39) are now 14-11 since Wall suited up, but rarely had he been asked to carry his team offensively or impose his will on the final outcome. Opportunities are created, not forced, and after enduring a rough patch of poor shooting and passing, Wall was ready to seize the moment. He helped his team snap its first two-game home losing streak since he returned — and avenge an earlier loss to Philadelphia.
“I think it was big for him, especially since he has been struggling,” reserve forward Trevor Ariza said. “I think that just shows he’s growing up throughout the year and the steps that he’s taking to become a better player.”
Wall had been relatively quiet for most of the night, aside from a dazzling first-half drive in which he stumbled, recovered and made a 360-degree spin move around Spencer Hawes before making a layup. But he had no choice but to step up after Beal fell to the ground and grimaced with 2 minutes 8 seconds left in the game.
Beal trailed 76ers all-star point guard Jrue Holiday (14 points) along the baseline and jumped, thinking that Holiday was going to shoot. Instead, Holiday dropped the ball off to Thaddeus Young, who made a floater over Wall and Nene to give Philadelphia an 87-84 lead as Beal landed awkwardly on his left ankle. Beal collapsed to the floor and reached for his ankle. Unable to move, Beal was so overwhelmed that he couldn’t feel his injured left foot.