The most important storyline of this game was, far and away, the mysterious shoulder injury suffered by John Wall in the second quarter. On a drive to the hoop that resulted in an air-balled lay up attempt, Wall took some contact from Zach Randolph (or Mike Conley, who really knows?) which ended with Wall throwing himself to the ground in severe pain. He winced all the way back to the locker room and may or may not have been injected with the same substance Ray Lewis recently made famous (just kidding) in order to tough it out. He returned for the 2nd half and seemed to be fine but played sparingly. The injury does not seem to be substantive, although Wizards Twitter had a good 20 minute freakout session over it.
As for the game – it was brutal. The Wizards scored 30 points in the first quarter on some great shooting, but followed up with only 46 more in the remaining three. Everyone played poorly on the offensive side of the ball as the team shot a cool 41% from the floor. There was no penetration which led to few open threes, the bread and butter of the resurgent Wizards. The Grizzlies defensive effort was obviously a factor here, as they are second in the league in points allowed per possession. They kept John Wall out of the paint (even getting him to shoot two threes!) and smothered Nene and Okafor.
The defensive play was strong yet again, as fans have come to expect. However, allowing perimeter penetration is becoming a serious problem. Wall is having tremendous problems staying in front of anyone and he looks too dejected after failing to fight around picks to catch up to his man. Point Guards are posting a better PER against Wall (15.6) than they are against the team as a whole (14.7, and this number includes Wall’s less effective minutes).
A short edition of Bullets Points tonight:
- John Wall hit a 3! He actually attempted two, and the one he missed was off by three or four hundred miles.
- Only Nene had double digits in scoring with 14. He took 16 shots to get there and look frustrated all night long.
- The Wizards shot a total of three free throws, which was by far their least on the season. The previous low was 7.
- The winning play the team had shown has come and gone. The Wizards were always the Wizards; they just hit a few more three’s and got a few lucky breaks in recent games.