Point guard showing growth and youthful audacity
It's easy to forget that even though John Wall is in his third season, he is still just 22 years old.
Wall has rallied from a frustrating stretch in late February to post three consecutive solid shooting performances, including clutch plays when the Wizards (19-40) have needed them most. But at times he's still his own worst enemy.
After going 16-for-54 (29.6 percent) from the field over the final five games last month, including 1-for-12 at Toronto on Feb. 19, Wall has been much improved in March, shooting 20-for-40 (50.0 percent). He was 7-for-12 through three quarters on Wednesday in Minnesota, where the Wizards played without Bradley Beal (left ankle), but he went 0-for-3 over the final period of the 87-82 loss, a stretch that included a poorly timed miss from 3-point range.
|Wizards at Nets|
|When » Friday, 7:30 p.m.|
|Where » Barclays Center,|
|TV » CSN|
Dropping to 1-for-16 (6.3 percent) from beyond the arc for the year -- worse than his 7.1 shooting percentage from distance last season -- Wall freely admitted his error.
"I just came off confident, and my teammates told me, 'Don't hesitate. Just shoot it,'?" Wall told reporters. "I kept making them, and then I got away from making them and took a couple tough shots."
The Wizards were also undone by a season-high 24 turnovers, six of which were committed by Wall. He had just two in Washington's 90-87 win over Philadelphia on Sunday, when he scored the game's final six points.
Wizards coach Randy Wittman was impressed with Wall's effort in that game and during a 96-88 loss to New York on March 1.
"I don't know how to tell you how hard it is for him to do what he had to do this year in terms of sitting out three and a half months without any activity of any kind on his feet," Wittman said after the 76ers game. "... It's been frustrating for him. He wants to win as bad as anybody. When he's not playing the way he's capable, he gets frustrated a little bit. But I thought the last couple of games he's calmed down a bit. He fought through it. He's got to stay patient still."
On a per-36 minutes basis, Wall's scoring (16.9 points), assists (8.7) and turnovers (4.5) are all career highs.
Meanwhile, Nene has played the last two games with a T-shirt and padding to protect himself after sitting out twice with right shoulder pain. While he produced 15 points and nine rebounds against Philadelphia, he negated 12 points and eight rebounds at the Timberwolves with a season-high seven turnovers.
A.J. Price has struggled to regain his rhythm after missing a game with a right thigh contusion. The Long Island native, who got into a small jawing match with Deron Williams when the Wizards traveled to Barclays Center to face the Nets (35-26) during the preseason, averaged 9.5 points and shot 66.7 percent from 3-point range in the four games before his injury. In the last two contests, Price has registered just five points and missed six of seven 3-point attempts.