ORLANDO -- There was a point in the fourth quarter, with about five minutes left, that John Wall went over to Bradley Beal and they shared a moment. It was time to take over a game they had no business losing to the Orlando Magic -- and they were correct.
"Me and John kind of looked at each other and was like it is time to take over the game," said Beal, who led all scorers with 24 points, with seven coming in the decisive fourth. "We were trying to make the right plays. We have to be a little bit more aggressive even if that means we have to take some tough shots or make tougher plays. We have to carry the team as best we can. We kind of felt the game was getting a little out of control and out of our hands a little bit so we just stepped up and did what we do."
Said Wall: "That's when we stepped up our defensive pressure and guys started to make some plays."
The Wizards had just regained a lead 80-78 on Wall's jumper but then they fell back 87-82 with two minutes left. After Marcin Gortat made two free throws, Wall blocked Tobias Harris, who stands 6-9, on his move to the basket and it produced a tip-in for Otto Porter on an offensive rebound on the other end. Then coming out of a timeout, Wall drained a floater with 13 seconds left for the winning bucket.
The Wizards' defense did the rest. Orlando shot 7 of 26 in the fourth, or 27%.
"His ability to read, anticipate is just tremendous," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of Wall, who had three of his career-high five blocks in the fourth quarter when he also had 12 points and two steals. "Good anticipation."
Only two players in NBA since blocks and steals were recorded starting in 1973-74 have had better opening games than Wall, with at least 22 points, seven rebounds, six assists, five blocks and three steals: David Robinson in 1990 and Hakeem Olajuwon in 1993.
"I knew we needed stops and I knew we had to play the right way. I just took some shots I had all game. I missed a couple but I wanted to be more aggressive," said Wall, who shot 5 of 7 in the fourth. "The most important thing was the way we locked down when we were down (five)."
Known as a chase-down block artist, Wall got his in various ways Wednesday. One came in the first half when he stopped 7-footer Dewayne Dedmon in the paint. Another came against another 7-footer, Nikola Vucevic, at the rim.
"Since last year, the end of the season I got very comfortable," Wall said about being the closer now that Paul Pierce left after one season. "And I know these guys trust me with the ball. They look up to me. I got to be a leader. If it's me taking the last shot or me making the right play for somebody that's wide open, I can deal with it. That's the situation I'm in when you're a franchise guy. It's my time in my sixth season to step up and take the pressure."