Johnson: John Wall Comes Up Short In NBA Debut

Johnson: John Wall Comes Up Short In NBA Debut
October 29, 2010, 3:04 am
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Thursday, October 28, 2010 11:00 PM


By Dave Johnson
CSNwashington.comORLANDO -- Eager for a new start, the Washington Wizards had the misfortune of helping to open a new arena against an old opponent. The same "old" Orlando Magic, Eastern Conference finalist the last two years, christened the recenlty opened Amway Center with a resounding 112-83 win over the Wizards.

Wizards head coach Flip Saunders had said he didn't want to end up like the "homecoming opponent" in the Magic's home opener, but that soon became reality as the Magic opened the game on a 24-7 run.

"We competed so hard in the pre-season and against each other, " said Wizards head coach Flip Saunders. "We played harder the last three or four days in practice. We fell behind and got shell-shocked a little bit and I thought we played extremely selfish early. "

From the start there was little sense of rhythm to the Wizards offense. Certainly the Magic played a role in disrupting the Wizards but too often the Wizards were rushing shots and not maintaining possession deep into the 24-second clock.

As Wizards radio analyst Glenn Consor noted the game was a direct study in contrasts. There was the Magic's experience versus the Wizards inexperience and the Magic's patience on offense compared to the Wizards impatience on offense.

The Magic just dominated the Wizards. On the boards the Magic out-rebounded the Wizards 53-28 and finished with 55 points in the paint. The Wizards missed 49 shots, but only had three offensive rebounds. The poor shooting and lack of rebounding often forced the Wizards into the unenviable task of defending the Magic in transition.

As a result the Magic enjoyed more than their fair share of open looks. Dwight Howard led the way with 23 points and ten rebounds, while Vince Carter added 18 points. The Magic play in Miami tonight and enjoyed the luxury of being able to rest all of its starters in the fourth quarter.

In his regular season debut John Wall managed to have 9 assists even though the Wizards shot only 37 percent from the field. To prevent drives to the basket, the Magic sagged defensively on Wall and allowed him to shoot from the outside. Wall only shot of 6 of 19 from the field and finished with 14 points.

With Gilbert Arenas sidelined by a strained tendon in his right ankle, the Wizards needed someone to step and fill the scoring void created by his absence. Instead the Wizards struggled to get the numbers it needed from usually consistent players. Andray Blatche did not score a field goal until the second half and finished with only 9 points.

Arenas did accompany the team to Orlando but after spending Wednesday's practice in a walking boot returned home. On Thursday Arenas did visit with a doctor and received an injection. He will be reevaluated early next week. No timetable for his return has been given, but he has not yet been ruled out of Tuesday's home opener.

Cartier Martin led the Wizards in scoring with 17 points. Martin also provided perhaps the most unexpected of all moments when he blocked a shot attempt by Howard in the second half.

"I was concerned with bringing a young team into an environment like this," Saunders added. "We played scared some times. I thought at times we felt sorry for ourselves and you can't do that because this is not a feel sorry league for anybody."