The plan from Wizards coach Scott Brooks went almost perfectly. He was going to let John Wall play limited minutes in a back-to-back stretch for the first time and come out with two wins. He'll have to settle for 1-1, but his point guard closed out the New York Knicks on Thursday after they mounted a comeback with a 47-point fourth quarter.
The Wizards (3-8) ended a three-game losing streak and he was able to shut up Brandon Jennings, too.
"He had a major impact in the first half and I think he only had two points," Brooks said of Wall's 1-for-6 start that blossomed into 6-for-8 in the second half, 23 points and 11 assists. "There are a few players in the league that can impact the game with passing and defense and he is one of them. He did a good job defending, and he makes plays for his teammates and then he got hot. That is what great players do. They read the game, see what the game needs and he delivered."
Wall ran the pick-and-roll with Marcin Gortat to perfection, leading to point-blank finishes at the rim. Having Bradley Beal, who played for the first time after a right hamstring injury kept him out three games, forced the defense to respect the jump pass to the corners.
Jennings led a spirited effort late. He scored 15 of his 17 points in the fourth where the Knicks trimmed the deficit to single digits on several occasions in the final two minutes.
Wall, who had a minutes restriction of 32, played 31 after playing 24 in a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday. He had to be reinserted by Brooks at 4:07 to stave off the rally.
Wall had a reverse layup and then drained a pull-up juimp shot in succession. He also made four free throws in a row.
And what made it even sweeter was that Jennings, who taunted Wizards free agent Casper Ware in a preseason game, was given a dose of his own medicine. Wall clapped in his face just as he'd done Ware knowing Jennings couldn't do anything about it.
"It was a little back-and-forth talking between both guys," Wall said of his banter with Jennings. "Brandon was kind of hot in the fourth quarter. So we had a little back-and-forth talk."