Wall has been slumping and his struggles have been magnified as he attempts to lead his depleted team through a grinding, unforgiving schedule. His teammates have advised Wall to play through it. His coach has told him not to make the situation more complicated than it needs to be.
“I think he needs to take a step back and simplify things. He’s trying to maybe do too much, too fast right now to fight through how he’s played the last couple of games,” Coach Randy Wittman said after the Wizards (12-42) lost their third in a row. “Sometimes it’s easier to take a step back and slow down. It’s not an easy thing to do. He’s a competitive kid who wants to play well and wants to play the right way and sometimes, you just get going the opposite way when you struggle a little bit.”
Wall missed 11 of his 15 field goal attempts, and even his made shots were taxing. His first made field goal required a crossover dribble, spin move and fadeaway jumper over Pacers reserve Tyler Hansbrough. Wall finished with 13 points, with three assists and a game-high five turnovers in just 28 minutes — his fewest in more than two months — but took a measured approach to his problems of late.
“Sometimes when things aren’t going your way, you have to keep playing basketball,” Wall said, adding that the season “ain’t taking a toll at all. It’s ups and downs, but it also takes me working on my game and getting better.”
With Wall in the midst of his worst slump of the season — over his past 10 games, he is averaging 12.4 points and shooting just 32.8 percent — the Wizards relied heavily on Jordan Crawford against Pacers. And the ever-ready-to-shoot Crawford was more than up for the challenge in the first half, scoring 21 of his game-high 28 points and helping the Wizards enter the locker room trailing 52-51.
Crawford was credited with 22 shots, but he claimed to have only taken 21 in light of one bizarre sequence. With the Wizards trailing 67-63 in the third period, Jan Vesely attempted a two-handed dunk but Hibbert (13 points, four blocks) swatted it in the opposite direction. Vesely quickly responded by stealing the ball from David West and passing ahead to Crawford, who attempted to throw an alley-oop lob to Vesely. But Paul George slapped away the pass, setting up a jumper by Danny Granger.
“Did it look like I shot? I was passing it,” Crawford said. “You know, I shoot a lot so they added to the field goals.”
Granger had 20 points to lead the Pacers, whose starters shot 70.7 percent.