John Wall took – and converted – the final shot. It was his first make in the final 10 seconds of a game to win in his seventh NBA season with the Wizards.
Is anyone complaining about it, after he knocked down the last two jump shots in a win over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday?
No. It's a ridiculous question incited by the hot-take universe where circumstances, situation and context be damned.
It's like the last two-minute reports released by the NBA when it reveals missed or incorrect no-calls by officials when usually games are decided in the first 46 minutes by the players who make a host of mistakes all on their own.
After Wall tied the score at 99 with a pull-up jumper, he drained the winner with 5.9 ticks left.
It was a simple side pick-and-roll play on which the Bulls continually switched. They were playing so soft on their coverages with Wall coming off, they took away his read to Gortat diving to the rim with the helpers.
Center Robin Lopez wouldn't commit to get close enough to Wall on the switch so the lightning-fast point guard could blow by the 7-footer for the layup. It wasn't bad defense by any stretch.
Markieff Morris, who had a team-high 10 points in the fourth quarter, had fouled out. Bradley Beal was 0-for-2 and scoreless. He took 15 total shots, six fewer than Wall.
The logical play, make or miss, was for Wall to take the shot going to his right which is his strong side.
He also made that same shot from the opposite side in the final two minutes of a comeback win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday. Wall takes the pull-up 47.2% of the time (his most frequently taken shoot) and makes 41% of them, according to stats.nba.com. Allow him to get a clean run to get into the rhythm, his accuracy is even better. He can go straight up in the air like he did when tying the score or fade as he did on the game-winner.
Had Wall missed the winner on Tuesday, the chorus of "Why did he take the last shot?" surely would've been at full blast.
But even if he misses, Gortat is diving on the switch by the much smaller Michael Carter-Williams. The Bulls were caught naked. They covered this 2 vs. 2, and Gortat set the screen on the correct side so Wall could get space and neutralize Rajon Rondo's help to the ball. Had the screen been set inside for Wall to get to the middle, Rondo would've been there to clog the paint.
So it's not about who takes the shot. If it's the best shot available based on how the play breaks down, who is open and available and who has the best matchup to take it based on how the opponent defends. It's also about execution by both teams. If the Bulls blow a switch and there's an uncontested layup would it matter if it were Gortat taking the shot?
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Wall's decision-making hasn't always been the best when it comes to these end-of-game situations (see the second game of the season at Memphis), so to be critical of what has taken place in the past is fair. He even owned up to how he made a bad decision in Memphis when he went to the wrong side and into the defensive help. But under coach Scott Brooks he has gotten better. All of them have progressed. Late-game execution in general has been on the uptick.
There's no rule that says the best shooter (Beal) has to take the last shot most of the time. If he doesn't that doesn't mean that the play wasn't called for him. Or maybe the other team was so concerned with not letting Beal beat them, they put Lopez and Carter-Williams in an impossible situation as long as Wall makes the correct read.
Beal will get his chances and he'll have to make them for the Wizards to be all they can be, but this isn't a contest between the two. Beal had the final shot on the road vs. the Indiana Pacers and missed. Morris had a wide-open look at the Orlando Magic and missed. Otto Porter has missed twice, at the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs.
Not being afraid to take the shot when it's there is as important as any of this. Making sure the best shot is taken is the next step. Ask any coach, and he can live with those results.
"He has the toughness. He has the wherewithal to see the floor. He’s had good experiences," Brooks said of Wall. "He’s not going to make them all. I’m sure he’s missed his share in the past and hopefully he makes many more like he did tonight."
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