John Wall has longed for the opportunity he received Sunday night, though likely not in way he got it.
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Wall scored the game’s final six points after teammate Bradley Beal left the court with a sprained ankle, leading the Washington Wizards to a 90-87 win over the Philadelphia 76ers.
”I’ve proven myself in college,” Wall said. ”I just have to keep proving myself. I like the ball at the end of games. On those types of plays, you want to be the hero, you want to have the pressure. Sometimes, you’re going to succeed. Sometimes, you’re going to fail. As long as you have confidence and believe in your ability, you’re going to be all right.”
Beal went down with 2:08 left in the fourth quarter. After being attended to by a trainer, Beal was carried off the court and through the tunnel by two teammates, keeping weight completely off both his legs. Beal later said he didn’t consider the injury serious and watched the game’s conclusion from the training room.
Wall scored the next four points to give the Wizards an 88-87 lead, blocked Evan Turner’s shot with 53 seconds left and added a jumper with 4.4 seconds left.
Wall finished with 16 points and six assists as the Wizards snapped a two-game losing streak and avoided their longest skid in the last month.
”I’m sure there probably was a burst of thought of, `Somebody’s got to step up now,”’ Wittman said of Wall. ”He wants to win as bad as anybody. When he’s not playing the way he’s capable of, he gets frustrated a little bit. But I thought the last couple games, he’s calmed down and fought through.”
Dorell Wright scored 15 points to lead the 76ers, who have lost eight of their last nine.
After the game, Beal, using crutches, passed Philadelphia coach Doug Collins’ news conference. Earlier in the media session, Collins referred to Beal as `Jeremy.’
”Just one second,” Collins told reporters before addressing Beal. ”Hey, Jeremy. I mean Bradley. Bradley. I hope you’re OK, man. Sorry. OK? You’re a hell of a player, man.”
Collins turned back to the reporters.
”There is a Jeremy Beal, isn’t there?” Collins said. ”That has to be. If not, that’s his new nickname. No, I shouldn’t be making fun at this period of time. We should all pray for that young kid. … He’s a tremendous player.”
Beal said an X-ray revealed no serious damage and that the next significant test of his ankle would come Monday morning.
”I honestly thought it was more serious than what it was, because at first, I really couldn’t move my foot,” Beal said. ”I couldn’t really feel it. I guess that’s just what happens when you’re in shock, and your mind’s just going all over the place.”
Philadelphia held Washington scoreless from 7:56 left in the fourth until 2:34 remained. Between Nene’s baskets, the 76ers went on an 11-0 run to take an 85-82 lead.
Martell Webster, who converted a four-point play on the Wizards’ first possession of the game, also scored 16 points. Emeka Okafor had 12 points and 16 rebounds.
Beal added 14 points and Nene had 15 points and nine rebounds in his return after missing Washington’s last two games due to a sore right shoulder.
Spencer Hawes had 14 points and 11 rebounds, and Evan Turner added 11 points and 10 rebounds for the 76ers. Jrue Holiday had 14 points and six assists and Thaddeus Young also scored 14 points
A.J. Price (bruised right thigh) also returned after missing Washington’s last game. He scored two points on 1-of-7 shooting in 17 minutes.
For the second straight game, Royal Ivey replaced injured Nick Young (left ankle sprain) in the starting lineup and finished with four points and four rebounds in 24 minutes.
NOTES: Collins, the No. 1 pick in the 1973 NBA Draft, addressed the pressure faced by top picks, including Wall (2010). ”As the years have gone on, it’s even harder,” Collins said. ”When I got drafted, I got a phone call. `You’re drafted.’ Everything is so much more magnified. There’s so many more people writing. There’s so many more people talking. There’s so many more people comparing. Any time you add all that to the mix, it adds to that. Also, these guys come in — nobody had ever seen me play other than maybe the Olympics — we know all about these guys now even in eighth grades and freshmen in high school, so there is no unknown factor.” … Collins said he’s trying to coax his players to be more vocal and cited a recent Los Angeles Clippers game. ”I said, `I watched the tape and Chris Paul took his mouthpiece out 1,022 times,”’ Collins said. ”Obviously, I was just making that up. But it was like constantly that he was taking it out to talk. He’s blowing up every one of your plays. … It’s almost like it puts another man out on the floor.”