Wall returns, Wizards upset Hawks
by Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY Sports
WASHINGTON — John Wall on Saturday napped midafternoon, with air compression sleeves on both legs.
The Washington Wizards point guard awoke and headed to Verizon Center, and at 5:10 p.m. ET, Wall began his pregame routine on the court with Wizards assistant coach Sam Cassell. At 5:23, he shook guards at midcourt with Atlanta Hawks guard Lou Williams and, at 5:31, retreated to the locker room.
With 4:56 left in the first quarter, Wall checked into a game for the first time this season, sidelined since late September when doctors diagnosed him with a stress injury to his left kneecap. He missed his first shot and absorbed a foul on his next attempt. He made 1-of-2 free throws.
With that, Wall’s long-awaited return finally arrived.
Maybe not as soon as Wall or the Wizards wanted. The struggling Wizards desperately missed his presence in the first 10 weeks of the regular season. But though Wall is on restricted minutes as he gets in game shape, the Wizards rediscovered what they had missed in their 93-83 victory against the Hawks.
Wall had 14 points, four assists and two rebounds in 22 minutes. The Wizards have been stung by injuries — to several players — all season, but Wall’s return marks a new beginning for Washington’s 2012-13 season. Fair or not, the Wizards will be judged on how they play the rest of the season.
With speedy Wall running the offense, the Wizards pushed the tempo. Late in the first quarter, he delivered his first assist of the season to rookie shooting guard Bradley Beal for a dunk in transition. That’s a 1-2 combo the Wizards and their fans have waited four months to see. The potential is obvious. Later in the game, Wall drove to the basket and passed the ball across the court to Beal, who made a three-pointer.
Naturally, Wall showed signs of rust. He just recently returned to practice with no limits and this week completed three consecutive days of practice for the first time this season.
His timing is off. He threw one alley-oop to forward Jan Vesely too high and another too low and under … [For more on John Wall's return powers Wizards to upset of Hawks, click here.]