Wizards feed off Wall in return, play Bulls next
The Wizards won in the All-Star guard’s return Saturday when he played for the first time in two months, missing 27 games after undergoing an arthroscopic debridement procedure.
But with six games remaining in the regular season, starting with Sunday’s contest against the Chicago Bulls, Washington is looking to make up some of the ground it lost with Wall out of the lineup.
Washington (42-34) clinched its fourth playoff berth in the past five seasons with Saturday’s 107-93 victory over the Charlotte Hornets. But the Wizards will really look to get back on track with Wall in place.
Starting with Sunday’s game at the United Center, the Wizards need to start building momentum.
It will center around Wall, who had a double-double (15 points, 14 assists) on Saturday. Otto Porter Jr. finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds.
“I’m excited to have John back,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks told reporters Saturday. “We’ve got one of the fastest players in the league and our offense has been sputtering. It’s going to be nice to get the Ferrari back.”
Wall made his first shot Saturday and went 6 of 17 from the field in 33 minutes in the first step back of what the Wizards are hoping can help them improve their playoff standing as the regular season winds down.
“It was good to see my first shot go in,” Wall told reporters.
But now, Brooks said Wall and the Wizards — who will play three straight road games — need to get their offense back in sync as the postseason approaches.
“We don’t know who we play and we really don’t care who we play,” Brooks told reporters. “We just want to play well going into the playoffs.”
The Bulls (25-51) snapped a seven-game losing streak Friday with a win at Orlando. While Chicago continues to give younger players opportunities for meaningful minutes in games that won’t have an impact on anything but its draft stock, veterans such as Robin Lopez remain fixated on the bigger picture.
“I don’t know if it’s a punishment as much as it is a sacrifice,” Lopez said after not playing in Friday’s 90-82 victory over the Orlando Magic, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “Teammates sacrifice for each other. That’s how I’m viewing this.”
According to the Sun-Times, Lopez plans to vent some of his frustration of not playing more after the All-Star break to Chicago’s front office in exit meetings.
But with six games remaining and the Bulls in the eighth-worst spot for a top lottery pick after Friday’s win, coach Fred Hoiberg will continue to stick with the script of developing young players as the Bulls continue to build for the future rather than play for the present.
“A big part of what we are looking at and trying to accomplish these last weeks of the season is, ‘Are these guys long-term fits?'” Hoiberg told reporters Friday, according to Bulls.com.