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 Wall nears triple-double in home opener as Wizards take Sixers in OT

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PostSubject: Wall nears triple-double in home opener as Wizards take Sixers in OT   Thu Nov 04, 2010 8:12 am






Washington Wizards first overall draft pick John Wall fell a steal shy of a triple-double last night at the Verizon Center, as the Wizards defeated the visiting Philadelphia 76ers in an exciting 116-115 overtime finish. Lou Williams led the Sixers with 30 points in defeat, however the sixth year guard was held scoreless during overtime. Washington's home opener victory nets Wizards Head Coach Flip Saunders his 614th career win, and places him 21st on the all-time list.

A packed crowd of 17,803 cheered on their new team co-captain last night as rookie John Wall began what would be nearly a three hour home opener by doing "The Dougie," a dance to shake his nerves and to set a positive tone following Washington's 0-2 start. Despite the tremendous energy from the crowd, the Wizards were unable to get things going early.

Washington took five shots within the first three minutes of the first quarter, and all five shots were taken by forward Andray Blatche. 'Dray sank the first bucket of the game but then missed four straight looks, which led to an early 12-3 deficit for the Wizards and prompted a Coach Saunders timeout.

Unlike Washington's poor shooting performance in Orlando last week, the Wizards came out of their first timeout with an aim for the free throw line. Wall led the charge with 7 free throw attempts within the opening quarter, while Blatche added 6 free throw attempts of his own. At the end of one the Wizards trailed the Sixers 28-27.

As Wall and Blatche continued to look for contact inside, reserve guard-forward Nick Young went big from outside, netting 15 first half points (10 in the second quarter) on 6-for-8 shooting. By halftime, Washington held a 50-48 lead.

Blatche opened the second half exactly as he opened the first: an opening bucket then four straight misses. However, while Blatche was unable to sink shots, Wall stepped up his defensive intensity and took over the game. The rook out of Kentucky committed six thefts within the quarter, two which came back-to-back with three minutes left in the third. Wall's steals gave way to a 72-66 lead for the Wizards entering the fourth, but the Sixers would battle back.

With 4:17 left in regulation, a goaltend violation on JaVale McGee gave Philadelphia a 92-90 advantage. Second overall draft pick Evan Turner -- held scoreless over the first three quarters -- would add the bucket to his total of 9 points off the bench, all in the fourth. The Wizards were unable to respond with shots of their own, and McGee was called for another goaltend violation with 2:33 left to play. That violation resulted in a three by Lou Williams, and gave the Sixers a 96-91 lead.

Down five, Washington needed some energy outside of Wall. After playing a mostly defensive minded game, small forward Al Thornton answered the call. He sank a big turnaround jumper with 1:12 to play, then picked-up an even bigger steal as the Wizards cut into the Sixers lead. Thornton sank two clutch free throws as a result of his theft, and the Wizards trailed the Sixers 100-99 with 17.3 seconds left in regulation.

As Washington played the foul game, Philadelphia made sure to give the ball to Lou Williams. Williams, only a 78.7% career shooter from the charity stripe, sank a perfect 10-for-10 in the fourth, including six straight free throw makes in the final seventeen seconds. He would end up with 20 of Philly's 40 points in the quarter as a result.

With 3.1 seconds left in regulation, the Wizards trailed 106-103. Coach Saunders subbed in Cartier Martin, a sharper shooter than Thornton from deep, alongside Young. Martin received the ball at the top of the perimeter, and, despite an awkward look, took a leaning shot forward which sank through the net with only 0.3 seconds left to play. The Sixers took a full court heave but it didn't release in time (and it ended up short), forcing a 106-all overtime period.

The five minute OT didn't start out well for either team, but the Sixers struck first thanks to a free throw make by Andre Iguodala (12 points, 9 assists). Wall continued to look inside, while Blatche picked-up the pace. While Williams went 6-for-6 from the line to end regulation for the Sixers, Blatche went 4-for-4 to end OT for the Wizards.

With 7.1 seconds left in overtime, the Wizards led 116-115. Iguodala had one final look at the basket for the Sixers but he missed a 16-footer, as Washington escaped their season home opener with a huge win over Philadelphia.

"He's got an unbelievable will to win," said Coach Saunders postgame, regarding Wall's 29 points, 13 assists, and 9 steals performance. "He got us in trouble tonight at times but he fought through it." Wall committed 8 turnovers last night to subtract from his otherwise amazing stat line, and he was well aware of his mistakes on the court. "The main thing I need to do is to work on my turnovers," Wall told the media. "Coming back in the fourth quarter I had two of the turnovers that helped (Philadelphia) get back into the game." While Wall's near triple-double surely impresses, as well as his 11-for-14 from the free throw line, his cerebral outlook continues to be the most impressive aspect of his game. Wall's ability to analyze failure may very well earn him the title of "Rookie of the Year" this season, as his greatness battles with Clippers big Blake Griffin.

"When he's one-on-one there and the screen and roll is coming, dude is a rocket," said Williams, who was unable to get a single point in overtime despite sinking in 20 within the fourth. "He's quick, one of the fastest guys I've seen in a long time." Wall and company had trouble with Williams, but the Sixers had more trouble with Wall. Philly, now 0-4, also had to deal with one heck of a home crowd. "That was the best crowd I've seen in three years now," said Blatche postgame. "I feel that game was definitely won by the crowd." I'm not sure if anyone took a decibel measure last night at the Verizon Center, but it got so loud in there that you couldn't even hear the referees blow their whistles.

The Wizards are back on the road Friday as they challenge the New York Knicks, then Washington will host the Cleveland Cavaliers Saturday night in their return to the raucous home crowd, eager to see Wall lead this franchise back to winning ways.


Think about how muc hbetter he will be when the Wizards 3 Time All Star Gilbert Arenas returns!!!



Gilbert Returned to practice this wednesday but his status for the upcoming game with the Knicks is uncertain!!!! Were rdy to c what he can do after all the time off.

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Wall nears triple-double in home opener as Wizards take Sixers in OT
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