Wall sets fran­chise record for as­sists — and then is ejected

Baltimore Sun - - NBA - By Can­dace Buck­ner

WASH­ING­TON — John Wall has de­fined his ca­reer in Wash­ing­ton through his pass­ing ge­nius. Slick de­liv­er­ies in the pick-and-roll, threaded passes in traf­fic and no-look spe­cial­ties to sur­prised team­mates. On Mon­day night, Wall ce­mented his le­gacy as the fran­chise’s all-time best passer.

But he didn’t stick around to cel­e­brate the achieve­ment.

In the Wiz­ards’ 114-106 loss to the Hous­ton Rock­ets, Wall had 21 points and eight as­sists — reach­ing 3,826 for his ca­reer to sur­pass Wes Unseld to be­come the Wiz­ards/Bul­lets all-time as­sist leader — but also picked up a pair of tech­ni­cal fouls. Wall’s sec­ond came in the clos­ing 33 sec­onds af­ter us­ing “in­ap­pro­pri­ate lan­guage” to­ward a game of­fi­cial.

“I felt that there was contact and that [Wall] bumped me,” of­fi­cial Marc Davis said in a state­ment af­ter the game. “I wasn’t cer­tain of his in­tent. I told him to watch him­self. He looked over his shoul­der and used vul­gar­ity and in­ap­pro­pri­ate lan­guage and was ejected on his sec­ond tech­ni­cal foul.”

A fit­ting mo­ment to crys­tal­lize this Wiz­ards’ sea­son. Even on a night when so much should be cel­e­brated, Wash­ing­ton fin­ishes in frus­tra­tion and dis­be­lief af­ter drop­ping its fifth game in six tries.

“No­body’s happy,” Bradley Beal said. “Emo­tions are a lit­tle high. Ev­ery­body’s mad. We’re 1-5. We didn’t ex­pect to be like this right now. We just got to fig­ure it out.”

When asked what he thought was the prob­lem, Beal quickly re­sponded. “Just heart.” More specif­i­cally, the lack of heart and pride in play­ing defense. As James Harden con­tin­ued his Most Valu­able Player march with 32 points and 15 as­sists the Rock­ets shot 51.9 per­cent over­all and 45.9 per­cent from the 3-point arc.

In con­trast, the Wiz­ards strug­gled to hit shots (41.5 per­cent). And as the misses piled up, Wash­ing­ton (1-5) ap­peared to lose its dis­po­si­tion to de­fend.

“That hap­pens and that’s not a good trait for a bas­ket­ball team,” coach Scott Brooks said. “You can’t ride the roller The Wiz­ards’ John Wall drib­bles in front of the Rock­ets’ Eric Gor­don in the sec­ond half. He drew a sec­ond tech­ni­cal foul in the clos­ing sec­onds and was ejected. coaster of mak­ing shots.

“That has to be cor­rected.”

The of­fense flowed through the first quar­ter — the Wiz­ards as­sisted on­four of their first seven field goals while the other three came within the paint — but the defense failed to cover the 3-point arc.

En­ter­ing the game, Wash­ing­ton ranked near the bot­tom of the league in al­low­ing op­po­nents to shoot 37.8 per­cent from beyond the arc. TheWizards didn’t break that trend in the first quar­ter, as they con­sis­tently chal­lenged late and sur­ren­dered five 3-point­ers.

Then, the leaky defense spread through other ar­eas as the Wiz­ards’ seven-point lead slipped away.

As the Wiz­ards con­cen­trated on stop­ping Harden in the first half, they must have for­got­ten that he can pass the ball, too.

Harden, who en­tered Mon­day av­er­ag­ing 12.3 as­sists, had 10 as­sists be­fore the in­ter­mis­sion.

On the other end, the Wiz­ards couldn’t hit a shot to help Wall make his­tory. With Wall need­ing four as­sists to break the fran­chise record, Wash­ing­ton did not score for nearly a five-minute stretch near the end of the half.

But as Wall snapped out of it, so did the Wiz­ards’ of­fense. Early in the third quar­ter, Otto Porter Jr. won a jump ball, tip­ping the pos­ses­sion to Wall — and his­tory fol­lowed. At the 10:15 mark, Wall pushed the fast break and dished his record-break­ing as­sist to Beal for a dunk. With 3,823 out of the way, the Wiz­ards be­gan func­tion­ing again.

In the quar­ter, Wall cre­ated 21points by scor­ing and shar­ing the ball — three of his as­sists led to open 3-point looks for Porter, Kelly Oubre Jr. and Marki­eff Mor­ris. Even so, Wall threw away two pos­ses­sions late in the fourth quar­ter as the Wiz­ards tried to stay close with Hous­ton. Wall looked frus­trated af­ter each one and later couldn’t con­tain his emo­tions and earned an early exit. Wed­nes­day, 7 p.m. TV: Com­cast Sport­sNet

PA­TRICK SMITH/GETTY IMAGES

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