After throwing down the dunk, Wall chest-bumped Trevor Ariza and stomped down the floor, unconcerned that he didn’t have his best performance against Bledsoe, his friend and former college teammate, or that the Clippers were playing without Blake Griffin and Chris Paul. The Wizards (12-35) ended an eight-game losing streak against the Clippers and Wall claimed his first victory over the franchise in six tries.
“Wasn’t the prettiest, but we’ll take it, definitely,” Coach Randy Wittman said after the Wizards also snapped a four-game losing streak. “Hey listen, we’ve played enough games without players. Don’t give me that . . . about who was here and who wasn’t here [for the Clippers]. This is a game we won. Give me a break.”
Five players scored in double figures for the Wizards, with Martell Webster leading the team with 21 points and connecting on 5 of 6 three-pointers. Nene had 15 points, Temple scored 12 and Ariza had 10 off the bench, including a huge three-pointer during an 11-2 run that helped the Wizards turn a one-point game into a 91-81 lead in the final minutes.
Wall had 13 points and eight assists and capped the run with the emphatic jam as the Wizards won for the sixth time in their last seven games at Verizon Center. Monday’s win was their fourth at home over against a division leader after also knocking off Miami, Oklahoma City and Chicago.
“We’ve been stepping up to the level of the competition all year, but we can’t play down,” Webster said. “We have to continue to play at that level, at a high level.”
Griffin was a late scratch with a strained left hamstring and Paul missed his eighth consecutive game with a bruised right kneecap. Griffin missed his first game since he sat out the entire 2009-10 season with a fractured left patella, ending the NBA’s second-longest active string of consecutive games played at 197.
In the teams’ last meeting, Jan. 19 in Los Angeles, Paul had 22 points and 12 assists and made a critical jumper over Wall in the final minute of a 94-87 Clippers victory. But the Clippers (34-16) have been struggling without Paul, losing three in a row and seven of nine overall, including a 106-104 defeat on Sunday in Boston.
With Paul sidelined, the Clippers have relied on Bledsoe, Wall’s teammate for one season at Kentucky, who has proven to be a valuable asset. Bledsoe was certainly fired up going against Wall but he maintained the same demeanor and never appeared out of sorts as he gave the Wizards fits with his quickness and freakish athleticism. He scored 17 points with nine assists and also had two blocked shots, one of them in the third quarter when he surprised Webster as he attempted a layup with an impressive block off the glass.