The triple-doubles look good on the resume of John Wall, but the last two that he has had -- in back-to-back wins vs. the Chicago Bulls and at the Philadelphia 76ers -- come with troubling baggage: Turnovers.
Wall has a total of 17, and while it didn't hurt them Wednesday as they won by 21 points the mistakes did fuel a comeback from a 24-point deficit by the Sixers on Thursday.
"There are times I should just shoot the ball and not try to make extra passes to make plays and keep moving the ball like we did in the first half," Wall said. "Something easy I can fix."
To be a serious threat to make the playoffs, he'll have to follow through with that promise. The Wizards (33-35) are on a three-game winning streak and face the New York Knicks at Verizon Center tonight (CSN, CSNmidatlantic.com and NBC Sports Live Extra, 6:30 p.m. ET).
When the Wizards returned from the All-Star break, Wall was more responsible with the ball. He had just 10 turnovers in the first five games. Now that his team is having some success after countless ups and downs, he has gotten sloppy with the ball again.
The win vs. the Sixers gave the Wizards the season series 4-0, but it took Wall going 8-for-8 from the free-throw line in the final 14.6 seconds to close out 99-94. They never should've been in that position.
Part of the credit goes to Philadelphia changing up coverages on Marcin Gortat, who was dominating in the middle as Wall racked up 12 first-half assists alone. Gortat largely was covered 1-on-1, including by the likes of Carl Landry and Jerami Grant. Neither are big enough nor are they actually centers and when he made his initial move there was no stopping him at the rim.
In the second half, Wall thought he'd have the same avenues to deliver the ball to his big man but did not.
"In the second half we tried to do the same thing," Wall said. "They did a better job of adjusting, trying to come over and double-teaming. We had some good looks out of the double-team. We just didn't make shots."
The Sixers fronted Gortat with a small to disrupt entry passes and relied on the long and super-athletic Nerlens Noel, who roamed like a free safety in football, to clean up the rest from behind. Noel finished with seven steals.
Wall's eight turnovers against Chicago came with Bradley Beal as a starter. His nine turnovers in Philadelphia came with Garrett Temple, who filled in for Beal (pelvic soreness) because he wasn't available.
Clearly, his backcourt mate doesn't have much to do with this part of the equation. It's simple decision-making. Seven of Wall's turnovers Thursday came in the second half.
He tried a wraparound pass that hit Gortat in the shin for a turnover. Markieff Morris made a nifty drop step around the undersized Kendall Marshall, but Noel flew over top to help break up Wall's lob for the dunk. Wall drove too deep, didn't have an angle for a good shot and tried to find Gortat cutting but he was surrounded by three white jerseys.
Gortat was being forced to catch the ball farther from the basket and it resulted in desperation passes from him, too, that never reached the target. Morris was double-teamed by Noel and T.J. McConnell on the wing to prevent him from getting the pass into the middle. The Wizards were out of sync and confused.
Wall recognized the coverages had changed so he has to then figure out a different way to beat the system. Against better teams -- and there are 28 -- that running head-first into a brick wall strategy doesn't work.