Could John Wall be turning the corner with his jump shot, or is this an aberration?
The Wizards (22-42) have 18 games left in the regular season to find out.
Wall led all scorers with a season-high 29 points on 12-for-15 shooting and made all three of his three-point attempts in Friday’s 96-87 win vs. the New Orleans Hornets (22-44). That tied his career-high for three-pointers in a game. He last made that many in a game during his rookie season on Nov. 23, 2010 vs. the Philadelphia 76ers.
“I just got into a good rhythm. The last couple games, I've been feeling pretty good and able to knock down my shot,” Wall said. “You make your first couple, you get a rhythm and you get confidence. When you play with a lot of confidence, you play at a high level.”
A 15% shooter from long range entering Friday (3-for-20) and a 0.7% shooter a season ago (3-for-42), Wall is taking off in March. He’s running the offense like a maestro as the Wizards shot 50% from the field (36-for-72) and 45% from three (9-for-20). They only had 12 turnovers.
“These last few games are as good as he’s done in terms of keeping us in a pace that we have to play at,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “He’s seeing that. He did get tired at the end of the third quarter where he kind of walked the ball up. But with these last few games, I told him, ‘Take these home and study these. This is a way, from a pace standpoint, that we have to play offense.’ I thought he’s played with great confidence. He came out and took his shot with confidence. Very pleased.”
Wall missed the first 33 games of the season because of an injury to his left knee cap and has been shaky with his decision-making at times. He has passed up open shots and forced ones that weren't there. There are positive signs that is changing possibly for the long-term.
Wall went 7-for-15 from the field and had 27 points and a season-high 14 assists in a 95-90 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers earlier in the week. He came back with 23 points on 10-for-19 shooting in a 106-93 win the next night vs. the Milwaukee Bucks. He topped those performances Friday, when he also had nine assists.
"He got it out in transition and hit some deep shots," said Hornets point guard Greivis Vasquez, who had 18 points, nine assists and eight rebounds. "He will give any defense problems when he starts knocking down tough shots."
The Wizards won their second in a row and are 17-14 with Wall. The score was tied at 50 at halftime, but Wall scored 14 points in the pivotal third quarter. He hit step-back jump shots and was smooth on the fadeaways, shooting at the top of his leap rather than on the down side.
“He shot better than me,” Martell Webster, the Wizards’ best shooter who went 4-for-11 from three to finish with 18 points, said of Wall. “He’s shooting the thing.”
The Wizards played a complete game. Trevor Booker finished with a career-high 13 rebounds off the bench. Kevin Seraphin and Cartier Martin had 10 points each in reserve.
“They knocked them down. They had timely threes and open looks, which were certainly not in our game plan,” Hornets coach Monty Williams said. “That team played better than us tonight. They played harder, for each other, with a sense of urgency. They played like they wanted to win and they trusted each other. That’s what you have to do when you’re building a program.”