John Wall comes up with a circus shot for an and-one
Sometimes a hard foul is the smartest decision to make when you’re defending a player that has an opportunity for an and-one play. Basketball coaches would rather eliminate an opportunity for three points and have one of their players pick up the foul.
On Friday night, that’s what Chicago Bulls forward Mike Dunleavy did on a fast break against Wizards guard John Wall. Well … Dunleavy tried at least, but Wall pulled off the type of play that’s just not explainable.
After forcing a steal off Dunleavy late in the third quarter, Wall headed to the basket in what looked like a hopeful fast-break bucket. Dunleavy contested it with an open-court foul that usually would have nixed an and-one opportunity, but after spinning 180 degrees and putting up a shot that didn’t look possible, Wall banked it in off the glass and had the Verizon Center going nuts.
"I don’t know how the heck it went in. I surprised myself," Wall said.
That was one of those shots that you can try to replicate over and over, but it just isn’t likely to happen the same way twice. It does help explain the type of season Wall has been having with the Wizards, though.
Washington held the Bulls to just one field goal in the final 5:16. Chicago missed eight of its final nine field goals.
Dunleavy was supposed to take the final shot for the Bulls, but Wall blocked his way. Jimmy Butler tried for a tying 3-pointer and was blocked by Nene as time expired.
"I got open. But unfortunately we were a little too close to the sideline," Dunleavy said. "With 10 seconds left it’s different than having like two or three, when you just want to get a look. Ten seconds is a lot of time. You can get a two there. I just wasn’t going to chuck one up."
Kirk Hinrich led Chicago with 18 points, and D.J. Augustin scored 16. The Bulls were playing two nights after their second triple-overtime win of the season in Orlando.
"Our defense got really good down the stretch," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "The last play we were all over the place and didn’t let them get a shot up."
Washington had six players score in double figures. Bradley Beal and Martell Webster had 14 points apiece.
There were 12 lead changes and 11 ties. The Wizards took a 92-91 lead on Marcin Gortat’s layup with 4:28 to play.
With the Wizards ahead 96-93 with 1:06 to play, Chicago’s Joakim Noah threw a pass out of bounds, and teammate Taj Gibson missed a short jumper with 30 seconds left.
Then came the crucial block. Butler, who played 60 minutes in the triple-overtime game, didn’t expect to be in the position to force another extra session.
"We were gonna try Mike. When he threw the ball to me, I was caught off guard by it. I think everybody was," Butler said.
The Bulls had won six of seven, and were trying to reach .500 for the first time since Nov. 27.
"They’re a tough team to match up with. You have the issue of Wall with his speed," Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said.
Gortat had 13 points as Washington moved to .500 for the first time since Dec. 30.
"You’ve got to win games like this," Wittman said. "You’re not going to play a good game every night. Are we good enough to win on our bad nights?"
After a slow start of his career, Wall seems to be reaching his potential. He’s averaging 19.8 points and 8.6 assists this season, and it’s looking like he’ll get voted into his first All-Star Game.
In the Wizards’ 96-93 win over Chicago on Friday, Wall dropped in 23 points off 9-for-15 shooting, 11 assists and also grabbed four rebounds. These are the type of numbers everyone has been waiting to see from a guy who has the potential to be one of the best.
The Associated Press contributed to this report