Wall sets franchise record for assists — and then is ejected
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