On Asian Heritage Night, it was supposed to be a battle of China’s finest NBA products; Houston’s Yao Ming and Washington’s Yi Jianlian. However, after a leg injury (shocking) ended Yao’s night after just six minutes, John Wall once again took center stage with his first career triple-double. Wall scored 19 points, pulled down 10 rebounds and dished out 13 assists in a 98-91 win over the Houston Rockets. What made Wall’s performance so impressive is that the rookie point guard turned the ball over just one time, while adding another six steals and a block. Meanwhile, Andray Blatche had a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Yi held up his end of the bargain on Asian night with 13 points and seven rebounds off the bench.
Obviously Wall’s triple-double effort will steal the headlines and the highlight reels, but it was what Comcast’s cameras caught during a timeout with about 29 seconds remaining in the game. Wall was shown talking to Al Thornton, and what he said shows his maturity and leadership skills at such a young age. Wall said to Thornton, “As long as we rebound, we can win. The offense will come.” He then said something along the lines of ‘I’m rebounding, you’re rebounding, (blank’s) is rebounding. We just need to rebound.’ Earlier in the week, Flip Saunders expressed his frustration with the lack of effort during practice, but after the performance tonight, it appears the Wizards realized they needed to play with more intensity, led by Wall’s non-stop motor.
Rebounding had been a huge problem in the first few games, and coaches always say the rebounding is about effort and hustle, which Washington exhibited against a scrappy Rockets squad. Everyone who played against Houston had at least one rebound, allowing the Wizards to pull down an impressive 51 boards. Along with the improved rebounding, Washington turned up the defensive heat, holding the Rockets to just 39% shooting from the floor. The game wasn’t all positive however, as Gilbert Arenas continued to show he is not anywhere near his all-pro form. Arenas scored five points on 1-of-7 shooting, although he did have a pretty sweet fast break ally-oop to Wall in the first half. The bench was also still a concern, even with Yi’s solid performance, Hilton Armstrong, Cartier Martin and Nick Young combined for three points. But tonight was still a great win and an exciting performance from the face of the franchise, as Wall looks to be everything we thought he’d be, and more.
About the Author
Written by Robert Bode
A sports die-hard through and through. I grew up playing almost every sport possible, and to this day I try to stay as active as possible. However, since I'm not a professional athlete, talking and writing about sports is the next best thing. A University of Florida graduate but living in my hometown of Washington D.C. (well Northern Virginia), my favorite teams are the Florida Gators, Miami Dolphins, Chicago White Sox, Washington Nationals, Real Madrid, good up-tempo NBA teams (so not the Knicks), and Washington Capitals.