The day was an emotional one for John Wall, not just because he found himself and the Wizards in a must-win situation in Game 5 with the Atlanta Hawks.
He left Verizon Center in a rush for the hospital where his best friend -- and business manager, Ty Williams -- had his first child. Wednesday also would've been the 70th birthday of his late father, a man he barely got a chance to know. He died of cancer when Wall was eight.
"Right when warmups was starting, he had the baby," Wall told CSNmidatlantic.com about Williams' daughter. "All day was emotional just knowing it was my dad's birthday. All the things I've been through, it's always great to have the opportunity to play on your dad's birthday. Especially to get a win, you can't ask for (anything) more."
Fortunately for him, 20 points and 14 assists later, the Wizards had a 3-2 lead in a hard-fought first-round series after winning 103-99.
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Wall only made 1 of 5 shots in the fourth quarter, but it was a big one. He pulled up from 21 feet, behind Marcin Gortat's screen as his defender went under, for the final basket to make it a two-possession game.
The Hawks couldn't score again.
"They made shots and we didn't," said Atlanta's Kent Bazemore, who sent time defending Wall and Bradley Beal with 27 points. "That's the game."
The Wizards can close the series Friday at Phillips Arena in six games. The last time these teams met in the playoffs two years ago, it was the Hawks winning Game 6 on the Wizards' home floor to win the series 4-2.
"We're going to see a team that plays all-out. Give it everything they've got. So far it's the best of two. Nobody has (taken) over the series because nobody has won on the opposing team's home court yet," Wall said. "We know they have an amazing crowd. It's really our first time with a closeout game on the road. We got to see what we can do."
The bigger the game, the higher the intensity and stress level. But Wall walked away with a smile knowing he did his father proud on his special day.
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