By Dave Johnson
March was the best month of John Wall’s career
. On Tuesday at Verizon Center Wall served noticed that there is more to come in April when he flirted with a triple-double and helped guide the Washington Wizards to a
90-86 win over the Chicago Bulls.
Wall christened the new month with 27 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds and only one turnover. It was arguably his best all-around performance of the season and follows his 18-point, 10 assist and only one-turnover-performance in Sunday’s win over the Toronto Raptors.
To go with Wall’s masterful display, the Wizards had to fight to secure their win over the Bulls. To start the game the Wizards struggled on defense and were down 16-6 in the first quarter. The game was not tied until the third quarter and with a more aggressive defensive approach the Wizards were able to wiggle their way to a 70-69 lead going to the fourth quarter.
While Wall dictated the pace of the game, fellow guard
helped deliver the win with 8 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter. Perhaps lost in box score Trevor Booker’s intensity on defense helped change the game and the Wizards held the Bulls to 37 points in the second half on 31 percent shooting from the field.
The Wizards have now won eight straight games at home, but now must translate their offensive efficiency and defensive intensity to the road when they play the Raptors on Wednesday night for the second time in four days.
“This was, I thought, a really positive step again for us in learning and moving in the direction we want to go. We didn’t particularly, I think you can ask any of our players in there, play our ‘A’ game, yet we gutted a win out. We gutted a win out and 82 games you’re not going to have your ‘A’ game and to be a good team and move in the direction we want to move in, you have got to find a way to win when you don’t have that and defensively that was tonight.”
Coverage of the Wizards and Raptors begins at 6:45 on the Washington Wizards Radio Network.
The Raptors have lost seven of their last eight games including a 109-92 loss to the Wizards on Sunday night.
Toronto most recently lost to the Pistons Monday night at home 108-98 despite a strong 34-point performance by Rudy Gay. The Raptors were up 79-75 after the third quarter, but were outscored 33-19 in the fourth. Detroit went on a 15-2 run in the first 4:15 of the fourth quarter.
Monday’s game was a poor performance by the Toronto bench, which was outscored by Detroit 51-17.
After Monday night’s loss to Detroit, Coach Dwane Casey said, “Our goal was to knock on the door and get into the playoffs. A couple of weeks ago we saw that light but it faded when we could not take care of games against Washington, Cleveland and Milwaukee.”
Toronto’s loss in Washington Sunday night put the Wizards up 2-1 in the season series. Bradley Beal led the Wizards in scoring with 24 points including 6 3-pointers. Jonas Valanciunas had a double-double scoring 18 points and grabbing 10 boards.
Although Bradley Beal was coming off the bench, the Wizards’ reserves outscored the Toronto bench 62-25.
Rudy Gay feels his role is as important as ever right now: “Just this last go-around, I want to be a leader out there.” He added, “Obviously we are playing a lot of younger players. I’m just trying to help them grow as fast as they can and just be a veteran.”
Gay is averaging 18 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 36.2 minutes per game. During his last ten games however, his assists and points were slightly higher despite about six minutes less of playing time. Gay’s time on the floor has been reduced as he’s been dealing with back spasms of late.
The only injury to report for Toronto is Andrea Bargnani who is out for the remainder of the season after being diagnosed with an avulsion sprain of his right elbow in early March.