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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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Wizards at Heat Game: TV Channel, Live Stream, how to watch

Wizards at Heat Game: TV Channel, Live Stream, how to watch

Thursday’s 119-113 victory over the 76ers was by far the best victory the Wizards have had this season.

Davis Bertans was hot shooting 7-for-10 from three. He even set a career high of 25 points in 27 minutes.  

Miami, on the hand struggled Wednesday night and fell short to Boston 112-93. 

Who will get the victory Friday ngiht? Tune in to find out. 


What: Washington Wizards at Heat, Game 21

Where: American Airlines Arena, Miami, FL

When: Friday, December 6, at 8:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Wizards at Heat will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards at Heat on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM


7:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders (LIVE)

7:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE)

8:00 PM: Wizards at Heat (LIVE)

10:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE)

11:00 PM: D.C. Sports Live (LIVE)

11:30 PM: Wizards Talk (LIVE)


Wizards: John Wall (OUT, Left Achilles rehab), Ian Mahinmi (OUT, Right Achilles strain), C.J. Miles (OUT, Wrist), Thomas Bryant (OUT, foot), Isaiah Thomas (OUT, Calf)

Heat: Justise Winslow (OUT, Back), Goran Dragic (OUT, Groin), KZ Okpala (OUT, Achilles), Udonis Haslem (OUT, Illness)


Davis Bertans, PF, (13.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.7 app, ): Bertans went off in the first half against the 76ers shooting 6-for-6 from deep to get 22 points going into halftime. Bertans finished Thursday nights game with a season high of 25 points, one rebound, one steal and seven 3 pointers within 37 minutes.

Ish Smith, G, Wizards (8 ppg, 3 rpg, 3.9 apg): With IT out Ish Smith stepped up to the plate dishing out a season high of eight assists with 19 points and one rebound in 34 minutes in Thursday nights win over the 76ers. Smith is averaging

Jimmy Butler, G, Wizards (20.1 ppg, 6 rpg, 6.5 apg): Jimmy Butler was on fire in Miami’s 112-93 loss to Celtics on Wednesday. Butler made 12-of-18 from the field and set a season high of 37 points.


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Davis Bertans reinforces status as Wizards' best offseason addition in win over 76ers

Davis Bertans reinforces status as Wizards' best offseason addition in win over 76ers

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards beat the Philadelphia 76ers 119-113 on Thursday night at Capital One Arena. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

1. The Wizards entered this season with the understanding they probably wouldn't make the playoffs. They wanted to play hard and be a team capable of pulling off upsets on nights their effort and scrappy play caught opponents off guard.

They wanted to have games like they had on Thursday night. For the first time this season, the Wizards jumped all over a very good team and held on for a victory.

The Wizards took out the Sixers 119-113 for what is so far their signature win of the season. Philly is one of the best teams in the East at 15-7 and it was mostly healthy, unlike the Wizards.

Washington snapped a three-game skid as it now flies to Miami for battle with the Heat, who may be the surprise team of the NBA so far this season with a 15-6 record.

2. Though it's not showing in the standings, the Wizards did a nice job in the offseason in flipping their roster and creating long-term financial flexibility. Their most impressive move may have been trading for Davis Bertans.

Bertans was essentially stolen from the San Antonio Spurs for Aaron White, who was likely to never play for the Wizards. And all Bertans has done is thrive in an expanded role with the green light to shoot as often as he wants.

Bertans was lights-out on Thursday with 25 points on 9-for-16 shooting. He set a career high with seven threes, going 7-for-13 from the perimeter. Bertans had 20 points and was 6-for-6 from three in the first half, tying his previous career high for makes.

As I've mentioned before, Bertans is going to be a commodity come the trade deadline and that is going to force a tough decision for the Wizards, whether to trade him or keep him and try to work out an extension in the offseason. If they are offered a first-round pick, it will be hard to pass up.

But there is an argument either way to hold on to him because he is such a good shooter. Just imagine how well he would fit with John Wall.

3. Rookie Rui Hachimura also had a huge game in what was his first career meeting with the Sixers. He popped off for 15 points in the second quarter and ended up with 27 points and six boards.

Hachimura did all of this while dealing with Al Horford and Joel Embiid down low and guarding those guys on the other end. He also spent some time checking Tobias Harris, so there was a lot on his plate.

Hachimura got many of his points with his bread-and-butter midrange game. He made one three and found trouble getting around Embiid at the rim. 

Hachimura took what the defense gave him and it worked. There were several occasions where defenders just let him take long twos and he made them.

Head coach Scott Brooks was just talking pregame about why the Wizards are okay with him living in the midrange, if that's what he is most comfortable with at this point. Good timing with those comments.

Hachimura, by the way, is averaging 22 points over his last four games while shooting 54.4 percent from the field (37-for-68).

4. The Wizards shared some good news on the injury front before the game as both of their backup centers returned. Moe Wagner, who was nursing a left ankle injury, came back after missing two games. And Ian Mahinmi made his season debut after missing two-plus months with an Achilles strain.

Wagner was put in the starting lineup due to Thomas Bryant's absence and, though he did not have his usual scoring numbers, he did what he could to bother Embiid and give the Wizards energy. Wagner finished with five points and 11 rebounds.

Mahinmi played surprisingly well, all things considered. He had some bad moments, some due to rust. Be he did a solid job guarding Embiid, which is no easy task. The Wizards also helped him out with double teams.

The best part of Mahinmi's night, though, was right when he checked in. He has developed a reputation for getting in foul trouble and, sure enough, he got one on his very first play.

5. Though the Wizards got two players back from injury on Thursday, they also lost two. Jordan McRae will be out a few weeks after having a second surgery on his right ring finger. And, in a bigger surprise, starting point guard Isaiah Thomas was a late scratch with a left calf strain.

The Thomas one is a newly disclosed injury and at this point it's unclear if he will miss any more time. But it was enough for him to sit after he had played in 17 straight.