John Wall probably didn't envision his first shot in last night's preseason game against the Mavericks being an errant, airballed three-pointer. Then again, it happens to everyone, and Wall said it himself after the game: "[T]he most important thing was to get the jitters out of the way. I had a lot of assists and was able to get to the free throw line." Yes, he definitely did.
Wall had 21 points and nine assists, and he also got to the free throw line 11 times (making nine of them). He didn't have the best shooting night (6-14 from the field) and grabbed just one rebound, but he also turned the ball over just twice in a whopping 38 minutes, by far a game-high (the next highest was Kirk Hinrich, who played 28 minutes). Wall also had a game-high four steals.
Andray Blatche was the game's high scorer with 22 points on 9-15 shooting. JaVale McGee added 13 points and seven assists, and Gilbert Arenas scored 12 points, including two three-pointers. Hinrich also hit two threes and chipped in nine points.
A few game notes:
- Hilton Armstrong played 21 minutes and totaled two rebounds, two steals, and a block. He also committed two turnovers. He didn't take a shot and had no points. I get that 1) he's supposed to be focused on defense and rebounding, 2) he's the backup center (for now), and 3) it's the first preseason game, but even Michael Ruffin would have taken a shot in 21 minutes. How about a put-back or something?
- Out of all the bench players, Yi Jianlian had the best game. In 22 minutes he scored 11 points on 5-11 shooting and snagged 10 rebounds. He had two turnovers, but he also blocked three shots. Not bad, Yi.
- Nick Young, on the other hand, was not good. He had only two points on 1-7 shooting in 15 minutes.
- Adam Morrison didn't get in the game. Neither did Trevor Booker, Hamady Ndiaye, or Kevin Seraphin, the team's rookies not named Wall.
The Wizards won, by the way, 97-94. Lester Hudson hit a three-pointer with 2.5 seconds left to give the Wizards the lead and the win. It was a big shot for Hudson, who played only eight minutes and had five points.
Sure, it was only the first preseason game, but Flip Saunders started three guards (Wall, Arenas, and Hinrich) together, and he seems to like how all three play together. If Blatche and McGee show that they can rebound efficiently enough and hold their own in the paint, I wouldn't be surprised to see Saunders use this lineup a lot, though I'm not sure if it would be able to work all that well with either Arenas or Hinrich being forced to guard a small forward for more than a few minutes. But it did work last night, so it's worth paying attention to, especially while Josh Howard is out.