The fan voting for the NBA All-Star Game hasn't been favorable to John Wall, but the Wizards' point guard -- already a three-time All-Star -- put another notch in the best season of his career with 18 assists to go with 18 points in a fourth-quarter comeback win.
It came a day after he learned that he only received 87,360 popular votes among Eastern Conference guards for the Feb. 19 showcase in New Orleans while lesser perfomers such as Dwyane Wade (278,052) and Derrick Rose (129,924) outdistanced him though they're on teams with comparable records to Washington (17-18)
"Eight-seven thousand votes?" Wall said sarcastically, though with a smile, to CSNmidatlantic.com after he had 18 points and 18 assists in a 112-105 victory. "I'll take it."
Wall has 22 double-doubles, 13 more than the next nearest pure guard in the conference which is Avery Bradley of the Boston Celtics (nine) who plays at the two. Nicolas Batum, a shooting guard/small forward for the Charlotte Hornets, has 10.
Among point guards ahead of Wall in the voting, the leader Kyrie Irving of the Cleveland Cavaliers has six double-doubles, the Toronto Raptors' Kyle Lowry also has six, Isaiah Thomas of the Celtics just four and Rose only one with the N.Y. Knicks.
The only players above Wall in double-doubles in the East are centers Andre Drummond (24), Hassan Whiteside (24) and Dwight Howard (23).
Wall's are much tougher to tally because of his role. His double-doubles create a ripple effect because as the primary ballhandler he's why the Wizards had five other players score in double figures Friday. Five of the seven field goals made by Otto Porter (17 points) came from Wall's assists. Four of Marcin Gortat's nine makes were product of his passes. In all, the Wizards had 31 assists on 46 baskets and the wealth was distributed almost equally. It's a staple of their offense when they play well.
"John is always facilitating like that so it is a lot easier playing with him," said Markieff Morris, who had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting. "You just have to make some shots. It is as simple as that."
Wall only had four points at halftime, but he didn't hunt for shots the way Zach LaVine did repeatedly in shooting 3-for-14 for Minnesota. Instead, Wall took his time, picked apart the traps on the ball by Gorgui Dieng and Karl-Anthony Towns and made the simple pocket passes that helped produce 9-for-9 shooting by Gortat.
Carefully, he injected pace into the game.
"Every time I came areound there was like two guys there," Wall said of the Wolves' defensive strategy on the pick-and-roll coverage.
They were determined to keep Wall away from the rim, so he set the table for his teammates to inflict their damage first.
"They packed the paint in on the pick-and-rolls," said Bradley Beal, who had a team-high 22 points on just 12 shots, including 5 of 7 on three-pointers. "So John was able to find everybody."
Wall knocked down a long jumper for a 99-97 lead with 3:40 left and sliced into the lane on consecutive plays for layups and a 105-101 lead exactly two minutes later.
Beal, Wall's backcourt mate who isn't in the top 10 for All-Star fan voting for guards but has a viable case for inclusion as well, delivered the knockout blow on Minnesota with 69 seconds left. It was Beal only field goal in the fourth.
Wall made the assist on that shot for a 108-103 lead and Gortat finished a lob to end all hope -- also from Wall. The Wizards shot 58.2% overall, 46 of 79, just short of a season-high 58.3% set earlier in the season. They made 12 of 22 threes for 54.5%.
"Too easy. All you've got to do is run the floor and you're going to get open shots. Cut hard, run your plays hard and he'll find you," Beal said of Wall's orchestration of the offense. "It's just a matter of playing hard and playing with energy and the rest will take care of itself. We can get what we want on offense. We have a lot of offensive threats and guys who can make plays. We just put it all on the defense and just feed off of that."
The "M-V-P" chants returned as Wall stood at the foul line for the first time with 8.3 seconds left. He made them both though that wasn't indicative of his court presence. The Wizards have won nine in a row at Verizon Center.
"There is a lot of excitement and it's great to know that when they call our names they are cheering for us," Wall said. "It's something we can use as an advantage."
But will anyone outside of D.C. hear? For Wall to be an All-Star again, it'll likely have to come from coaches who vote for the reserves. They know all about Wall and his impact first-hand because they game plan to stop him and more often than not this season they've not succeeded.
And defensively, Wall is a much better player than the one who began the season slow after surgeries to both knees May 5.
"When we were down in that fourth quarter, that's when he had to take over becaiuse Brad was out of the game," said Wizards coach Scott Brooks, who went with Wall and Gortat after a 14-point third quarter lead devolved into an 85-80 deficit entering the fourth. "He had to be more aggressive because we needed his scoring. ... We got stops. It gave us the opportunity to get out in transtion where he's at his best."