ATLANTA -- The last time John Wall took a tumble like he had Thursday night in the regular-season opener vs. the Atlanta Hawks, he had five non-displaced fractures in his left hand and wrist. This time, the culprit wasn't Jeff Teague. It was Kent Bazemore who undercut him on a breakaway to the basket and the Wizards' point guard left the locker room with two sore fingers on the same hand.
"I went through that same problem when we were in the playoffs, got undercut and broke my hand," Wall said of the play on May 3, 20015, in the East semifinals when the Wizards took a 1-0 lead but lost their All-Star for three games. "That's the reason why I reacted the way I did. Because for some reason every time in this building, I get undercut.
"I'd rather you challenge and try to block the shot than just run and stop. I have nowhere to land. I have nowhere to go. It's the same way I feel if he was shooting a jump shot and I run underneath him, you can break somebody's ankle. ... I feel like if you're not going the challenge, what's the point of going down there?"
At least Bazemore was hit with a Flagrant 1 foul at 8:01 of the third quarter. Wall made both foul shots but then turned it over when the Wizards got another possession for the technical. They were up 69-63 with a chance to pull away but it didn't happen.
When Teague took out Wall, no foul was called as he stayed sprawled on the floor while the game continued.
"Those plays shouldn't be in the game. You learn that from the first time you step on the court. When the guy goes up, you never undercut him," Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. "It wasn't on purpose. His momentum carried it. But we all as a league have to be better in those situations. Those situations are career-ending when a guy is in mid-air, if you (don't) get there quick enough you have to let it go."
Bazemore tried to explain, not realizing that even though Wall is a right-handed shooter, he mostly finishes at the rim left-handed.
"He is a right-handed player and I thought he was going up with the right. He came in with the left," Bazemore said. "I don't play the game like that. We are both North Carolina guys. We have a bond even before all of this. Just an unfortuante play. We hugged and made up after that."
As Wall walked out of the locker room he told CSNmidatlantic.com that two fingers on his left hand took the brunt of the fall but he wasn't overly concerned about it. After getting medical opinions, Wall returned in that playoff series with the Hawks despite the breaks in his hand and almost got the Wizards to upset them.
There are no indications that Wall is in jeopardy of not playing in Sunday's road game vs. the Memphis Grizzlies.
"I don't know. I don't feel it now because my adrenaline was going," he said. "But I might feel it later on tonight."
PITTSBURGH -- One of the nation's worst secondaries kept daring Virginia Tech quarterback Jerod Evans to throw.
So he did. Over. And over. And over.
The junior shook off a right ankle injury to throw for a career-high 406 yards and two touchdowns to lead the 25th-ranked Hokies to a 39-36 victory over Pittsburgh on Thursday night.
Joey Slye tied the school and Atlantic Coach Conference records by making six field goals to help the Hokies (6-2, 4-1) beat the Panthers (5-3, 2-2) on the road for the first time in 17 years.
Pitt came in with the nation's 120th-ranked pass defense yet played bump-and-run for most of the game, hoping its defensive backs could win more than they lost.
Instead, three Tech wide receivers topped 100 yards in the same game for the first time in school history. Isaiah Ford's 10 receptions included his school-record 23rd receiving touchdown. Bucky Hodges caught six passes for 145 yards and a score and Cam Phillips added 109 yards on a night the Hokies piled up 556 total yards.
"It's a great feeling when you can do what you love doing and that's throw the ball up and down the field against a pretty good defense," Evans said. "One-on-one coverage. You can't ask for anything better than one-on-one coverage."
Pitt coach Narduzzi built his reputation as defensive coordinator at Michigan State by requiring his secondary to play physical. He's intent on doing the same at Pitt, even as the weeks pass and improvement only comes in sporadic bursts. Facing the Hokies, it was no different.
"We had guys in position to make plays," Narduzzi said. "We didn't make them. . There's not a whole lot of different ways to do it."
Evans left briefly in the third quarter after getting his right leg rolled up on but returned to lead a fourth-quarter surge that included Slye's sixth field goal. Slye joked it got a little bit boring knocking in chip shot after chip shot, though he's hardly complaining after the Hokies won at Heinz Field for the first time in five tries and assured themselves of a bowl berth for a 24th straight year, the longest active streak in the nation.
It's a notable streak, but bigger goals lie ahead. The Hokies will end the weekend no worse than tied in the loss column with North Carolina atop the Coastal. Virginia Tech owns the tiebreaker, having beaten the Tar Heels decisively this month