East punctuates John Wall's stellar week with a victory

East punctuates John Wall's stellar week with a victory
February 16, 2014, 11:15 pm
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NEW ORLEANS -- The honeymoon that is NBA All-Star Weekend is over for John Wall as he has to refocus for the final 30 games of the regular season for the Wizards, beginning with practice Monday at Verizon Center. 

But what a weekend it was. Wall only played 15 minutes and scored 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting, five rebounds and four assists for the East in a 163-155 win vs. the West on Sunday night. It was the most points ever scored in 63 All-Star Games.

If Wall can gain the popular vote to be a starter next season, he'll get more run and can make more of an impact in the main event instead of playing behind Kyrie Irving, who was named MVP. Kevin Durant and Blake Griffin scored 38 each for the West. 

Wall entered the game in the second quarter and his layup gave the East a 48-46 lead. He made 3 of 5 shots for six points, including a reverse double-pump slam in transition, but his team trailed 89-76 at halftime.

Wall didn't re-enter until the end of the third when he blew by Damian Lillard with a crossover dribble to trim the deficit to 126-123 entering the fourth.  Then Wall began the final period with a steal and another dunk before exiting soon afterwards. 

Irving, who started ahead of him at point guard because of fan voting, scored 24 points in the second half to finish with 31. He also had a game-high 14 assists.

Still, the weekend represented a turnaround for Wall. He won the slam-dunk contest on Saturday in emphatic fashion which should help his popularity. Just being here for the first time as an All-Star means something.

Wall readily admits that he has come a long way not only in terms of his skills but attitude. It was poor. He'd argue with coaches -- Kentucky's John Calipari said as much in a conversation we had last week when he came to Verizon Center to watch his former star -- and even in his fourth pro season Wall has had to work on his abrasiveness in addressing certain teammates. That has been a problem since a young age.

"I was always good when I was little. I just never passed. I was only 5-8. I was a little guy. ... I just never really passed and had a terrible attitude," said Wall, now 6-4. "I had the worst attitude you probably could have as a basketball player. I think when I finally turned that switch off, learning how to respect my coaches and stuff like that I finally grew. It helped me out a lot."

That included run-ins with then-coach LeVelle Moton, now the head coach at North Carolina Central University. 

"I just always got kicked out of his camps. Anything went wrong, it was always my fault. Anything you think a kid could do at camp, you see a 5-10 year old do, I was doing at 13 and 12. Nothing was going my way. I didn't care," Wall said. "If he was talking in front of the whole camp, I might just get up and start shooting on my own and he'd be like go sit up stairs in the stands and have timeout. Then I'd get sent home the rest of the camp."

Those days now are in the rear view though there's more work to do. And perhaps the best news came when Wall said that his mother, Frances Pulley, is out of the hospital. 

"She's doing alright. They're still keeping an eye on her," he said. "She was able to go home today,"