The Washington Wizards faced an injury scare Sunday yet rallied around the play of point guard John Wall in a 90-87 victory over the visiting Philadelphia 76ers. Wizards rookie shooting guard Bradley Beal had to be carried off the court late in the fourth quarter due to a sprained left ankle. Wall scored Washington's final six points in Beal's absence, including a 20-foot pull up dagger with 4.9 seconds left on the game clock.
"John (Wall) definitely made some big shots down the stretch," said Beal, who achieved 14 points and 3 assists in the 36:44 minutes prior to his injury (1:48). "Nene with two great boards. All of those guys picked it up. I'm glad they stuck with it, they pulled out a great win for us." Beal also achieved 2 blocks in the contest, as all five Wizards starters not only scored in double-digits, yet also finished with at least a block each.
"This was a gutty win for our guys," said Wizards Head Coach Randy Wittman. "Doug (Collins) would probably say the same. [...] Our defense has been pretty steady. When we're able to play defense the way we're capable of playing, it's going to give us the opportunities to win games like tonight."
Wall secured his one and only block of the night by shutting down Evan Turner in the paint with less than a minute to go in regulation. Turner, the second overall pick of the Wall-led 2010 NBA Draft, is a client of agent David Falk, who happened to be in attendance Sunday. While Wall likely has no beef with the number one, number two talk, the presence of Falk, who criticized Wall as lacking the tools to "develop as an elite point guard," surely fueled a fire within the former Kentucky Wildcat.
"I have proven myself in college and I have to keep proving myself here," said Wall. "I like having the ball at the end of games and when it's those types of plays you want to be the hero. Sometimes you are going to succeed and sometimes you will fail but as long as you have confidence as well as believe in your ability, you will be fine."
Turner had a whopping five of his 13 attempts blocked by the Wizards, including Wall's timely fourth quarter swat. Washington had 7 blocks on the night, which means a good seventy percent of Washington's efforts happened to take away from the third-year Sixers forward. A bit of head hunting, or just a coincidence?
The Wizards will take to the road Wednesday in their final of two meetings with the Minnesota Timberwolves (8:00 p.m. ET, CSN). Wall made his season debut against the T-wolves in a victory, and now Washington will have to see when Beal can return.
"I'm grateful it wasn't my knee," said Beal postgame, "but it still felt bad. Whenever you have something like that, like an ankle sprain where it rolls over completely, it feels bad. I'm thankful it wasn't my knee or anything too, too serious."
"I've had all types of ankle sprains," continued Beal. "I had one almost every other game. It's something I just have to keep working on. Keep strengthening them." Wall added to Beal's thoughts later, by saying Beal "has been fighting through a high ankle sprain."
"I give him credit for playing through it," said Wall. "It's tough to have an ankle sprain on one let alone two. I know he has done a great job getting treatment so we are going to see how he does as the days go by."