Dave Johnson: John Wall Magical In Win Over Rockets

Dave Johnson: John Wall Magical In Win Over Rockets
November 11, 2010, 2:44 am
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010 9:36 p.m.

By Dave Johnson
WASHINGTON -- Magic Johnson provided the words. John Wall delivered everything else. From his courtside seat Johnson, who talked to the Wizards before the game, witnessed John Walls first career triple-double in a 98-91 win over the Houston Rockets. Walls final line was outrageous. Wall had 19 points, 13 assists, and 10 rebounds to go with six steals and only one turnover. Andray Blatche and Al Thornton each led the Wizards in scoring with 20 points and combined with Wall to lead a decisive 10-0 run late in the fourth quarter. I wasnt forcing it too much tonight; just finding my teammates and making the right read, Wall noted. Sometimes I get too excited and try to make a spectacular play instead of the simple play, and tonight I think I did the right thing by making the simple play. After conceding the first basket of the game the Wizards went on a 9-0 run and spent much of the night in control. The Rockets did not have their first lead until the third quarter but kept within striking distance behind Kevin Martins game-high 31 points and 24 points from Luis Scola. The night was billed by the Wizards as Asian Heritage Night with the game featuring Yi Jianlian and the Rockets Yao Ming. The game was also broadcast live in China but Yao only played six minutes because of a tendon strain in his left leg. Yi, who was never on the court at the same time with Yao, did provide a spark off the Wizards bench with 13 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 blocked shots. I thought that Yi was huge tonight. He made big shots, Wizards head coach Flip Saunders said. You know he made big blocks. Unfortunately Yao couldnt play most of the game, but Yi was the best player from China tonight. With the exception of the opening night loss to Orlando the Wizards have been competitive but have struggled to close games. When the Rockets used a 7-0 run to snare the lead at 85-84 with 5:53 remaining in the fourth quarter, it looked like the game was falling into an all too familiar bad pattern for the Wizards. Instead the Wizards tightened up on defense and held the Rockets without a field goal for almost five minutes. During that stretch Wall had 3 of his assists and 3 of his steals and Blatche scored 6 points and Thornton 4 points to give the Wizards the necessary cushion. It felt good, because we did it out of our defense. Our defense was solid, Saunders noted. We didnt put them to the free-throw line too much during that point. We made them score over us, contested shots, we rebounded, and then we executed pretty well at the other end and rebounded at the other end too. The strong finish by the Wizards atoned for a shaky third quarter in which the Rockets became more aggressive on the boards and more successful on the break. At half-time the Wizards had a 26-20 edge in rebounds and were ahead 17-7 in fast break points. In the third quarter the Rockets matched the Wizards with 12 rebounds and enjoyed a 10-2 edge in fast break points. The combination of Martin on the outside and Scola on the inside provided a threat for the Wizards but they still escaped the quarter with a 73-72 lead. In the first half the Wizards enjoyed their biggest lead of the night on an electrifying play. An interception by Blatche triggered an Arenas-led fast break. As he faked a drive to the basket, Arenas instead floated up a pass that was finished by Wall for a one-handed alley-oop dunk and a 36-25 Wizards lead. For the Wizards the victory ended a five game home losing streak against the Rockets and marked the first time Yi enjoyed a victory against Yao. It also provided a lift for a Wizards team that needed to go through two practices on Monday because a lack of effort.

Check out Bob Youngentob's Rockets-Wizards Photo Gallery here