Wizards Outlast Thunder
As reported on Tuesday morning by Candace Buckner of the Washington Post, John Wall, the Wizards’ point guard will undergo a “clean up” procedure in his left knee. He will miss six to eight weeks, obviously including the All-Star game.
This comes after a four-game stretch away from home – and team doctors – where Wall averaged 15 points per game and shot just 38% from the field (down from 19.4 and 42% on the season, respectively).
Wall’s applicable injury history doesn’t go too far back. He had surgeries done on both knees in May of 2016, and averaged career bests in points (23.1) and assists (10.7) the ensuing season.
Before the start of this year, Wall claimed to have a “career summer.”
Then, after a knee-to-knee collision in a Nov. 7 game against the Dallas Mavericks, Wall got injections in his left knee to reduce inflammation. He missed two weeks. He’s expressed occasional pain and soreness ever since.
When he went out for those first two weeks, we called it “a blessing in disguise.”
Ehh, it wasn’t really. The Wizards have been 18-14 since and outside of Kelly Oubre’s confidence, nothing in that locker room has really changed. It’s the timing of this Wall hiatus that will make this team either drown or learn to tread water.
Washington has played two games since Wall has made his knee the concrete priority that it now is. It’s hard for the viewing eye to tell if the boat is rowing, but it seems they’ve at least patched the hole.
The trudge began Saturday in Atlanta, where tying a franchise-high 18 made 3-pointers was the subhead. Without their catalyst, the team’s 40 assists were their highest since 1992, and third-string point guard Tim Frazier impressed with 14 of those.
The 130-109 win was a surprise perhaps, because Washington is known to play poorly against sub-par teams. In the long road trip that the 21-point dub punctuated, the Wizards lost to Charlotte by 24 and Dallas by 23.
Then came the primetime matchup with Oklahoma City, a playoff team that is finding its groove. The Wiz almost came back from a 19-point deficit. Beal’s inspiring 18-point fourth quarter and 41-point game was eclipsed by Russell Westbrook’s 46 and the streaking Thunder.
Yes, streaking Thunder. That is an adjective usually reserved for lightning, but after a winning weekend, the Thunder came to D.C. streaking like a drunk fan at a football game.
Through eight straight wins, it is evident that their three alphas are beginning play in unison. OKC is the second-highest in points-per-game in the NBA this month. Over the streak, the trio has scored 60% of those points. They gave the Cavs 148 points in Cleveland and came to D.C. having scored over 120 for three straight games.
Tuesday night’s rematch was intriguing from many angles. How will Washington’s depth at point introduce itself? Could the ailing Wizards stop the white-hot Thunder? The trade deadline is looming, will its presence force taboo thoughts in the open, or be shunned by an energy of solidarity?
Only time can tell.
(You have my word; I’ll tell you what time tells us.)