Wall: Being "best PG in the NBA" is goal
It's still early in the NBA season, but John Wall isn't hiding that he has taken to heart all the criticisms about his game -- and the five-year, $80 million extension the Wizards gave him in the offseason.
Wall had his third game in a row of 30 or more points Tuesday, when he put up a game-high 31 in a 116-111 victory vs. the Los Angeles Lakers at Verizon Center. He added nine assists, three steals and kept his turnovers down to three.
“I think I’m using what everybody said about me, that I’m not a top five point guard, that I’m not a top 10 point guard," Wall said after leading the Wizards to their fourth victory in five games. "My job is to go out there and not just prove it by scoring, but you get known as a point guard in this league by winning games. All I’m trying to do is lead this team and keep trying to win as many games as we can.”
Quickly, I followed up by asking him if he believes a top five point guard now: “Yes. That’s what I believe. I’m just trying to keep playing the right way and win games.
"Three games make a statement, but that don't really mean anything when you've got 70-something games left. You can go back to a slump any day this week."
Wall went back in the game with 7:07 left in the fourth quarter. He knocked down a pull-up jumper at 4:40 for a 103-97 lead; he made two free throws at 3:31 and a 20-foot jumper at 2:51 to keep the Wizards up 107-104.
The Wizards lost the lead briefly when Pau Gasol made a drop step to get around Nene for a layup to put the Lakers back ahead 108-107. Then Wall really took control. He made a 17-foot jumper at 1:34, assisted Nene on a layup with 60 seconds left and then made 5 of 6 free throws to close out the Lakers.
"I just like his decisions. That’s the main thing. These 31 (points) weren’t forced. He took what the defense gave him, got out on the break and made some layups, hit the mid-range, found guys in corners and hit the big guys inside," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "That’s what I’m most impressed with, how he is going about (getting) these numbers.”
Nene, who had a career-high 30 points in the victory, was complimentary of what Wall has done for the Wizards (6-8). They'd opened the season by losing seven of their first nine games. Nene criticized the young players on the team. They met with Wittman and worked it out.
"That kid he’s been rolling the past weeks," Nene said of Wall. "He is putting everybody in their spots. He reads right. My teammates, they’re doing better things on the court.”