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J. Michael: No one complains about John Wall taking Wizards' last shot when it goes in

J. Michael: No one complains about John Wall taking Wizards' last shot when it goes in

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? 


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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76ers' Ben Simmons diagnosed with partial dislocation of the left kneecap

76ers' Ben Simmons diagnosed with partial dislocation of the left kneecap

After exiting the 76ers-Wizards matchup early Wednesday night, Ben Simmons was diagnosed with subluxation of the left patella on Thursday.

Simmons left the game during the third quarter and did not return. The injury occurred after he grabbed an offensive rebound and dribbled to the corner to pass to Al Horford in the post. Following the play, he began flexing his left leg and left for the locker room. Simmons was seen walking gingerly in street clothes minutes later.  

Before leaving the game, Simmons recorded eight points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals in 23 minutes.

Simmons’ diagnosis of a partially dislocated kneecap leaves him out indefinitely as he and the team consider treatment options. He has already been ruled out of Philadelphia’s game against the Orlando Magic on Friday. However, his MRI showed no ligament damage in the knee, which leaves him optimistic to return later in the playoffs.

His knee injury is not the only injury Simmons has had to overcome this season. He also missed the final eight games before the NBA’s hiatus with a nerve impingement in his lower back, but fully recovered before the restart began.

Playing without an All-Star player will be a challenge for Philadelphia, but the team has proven successful thus far in Orlando. The Sixers have gone 2-1 in the bubble and currently trail the Indiana Pacers by one game for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference and are two games behind the Miami Heat for fourth. 


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Kevin Durant gives his NBA Finals predictions

Kevin Durant gives his NBA Finals predictions

While a number of teams are fighting to be the favorite heading into the NBA Playoffs, the Los Angeles Clippers picked up a key endorsement from Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant.

When asked who he thought will win it all this year, Durant chose the Clippers defeating the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals and upsetting the No. 1 seed Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. 

"They're just so deep," Durant said of the Clippers on “Play For Keeps” podcast. "They haven't had their whole team together at once for a long period of time yet, and that talent is just undeniable. When you have [Paul George] and Kawhi [Leonard] at the wings, that's what you need to win is wings. You got those two at the wings, arguably top three, top four at the wing position on one team."

So far in Orlando, the Clippers have gone 1-2 after defeating the New Orleans Pelicans and falling to the Lakers and Phoenix Suns. As of now, they hold the two-seed in the Western Conference playoff picture and would face the Dallas Mavericks in the first round. However, they are currently just a half a game ahead of the Denver Nuggets with five seeding games remaining.


The Lakers clinched the one-seed last week and are up six games in the standings over their cross-town rivals.

ESPN’s playoff odds gave the Clippers a 10% chance of winning it all. They ranked third behind the Bucks with a 49.7% chance and the Lakers at 18.7%. 

Durant chose Los Angeles over his own team, the Brooklyn Nets, who are also in a good position to make the playoffs as the current seven-seed in the East Conference. However, the Nets are playing in Orlando without eight players including a number of starters like Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Spencer Dinwiddie and Durant, who missed the entire regular season after tearing his Achilles during the 2019 NBA Finals.

If his team retains the seven-seed heading into the playoffs, they would likely face the Toronto Raptors, who Durant projected would fall to Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference Finals.

But regardless of seeding, Durant acknowledged it’s still anyone’s game.

“I hate doing that s---,” he said about predicting a winner. “You never know what could happen – you seen that with us last year.”

Stay connected to the Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.