John Wall isn't in top shape, using camp and the preseason to get there by the time regular season tips Oct. 28 for the Wizards. With the style of play they're using, he may get there sooner than later.
He needed to catch his breath earlier than expected in the third quarter of Tuesday's 129-95 win vs. the Philadelphia 76ers.
"I asked for one at the six-minute mark of the third quarter but he act like he didn't hear for two plays. That's why I walked the ball up the court," Wall said of coach Randy Wittman granting his request. "Just ask. That means you're doing what you're supposed to do. It also means you have to get in better shape. Coming into training camp we didn't know what system we were getting into. Seven or eight days aren't going to help you get in the best shape you can."
The Wizards led 31-22 after the first quarter but were outscored 32-24 in the second. Gassed, the first unit slipped defensively before they were able to right the ship in the second half and pull away.
"You never know what to expect first game. I was pleasantly surprised on a couple fronts," Wittman said. "I thought our effort and our energy and commitment to try to do what we're trying to do was there. There has to be a commitment to do it because it's hard. I had to take John out early in the third quarter because he was exhausted. Sesh (Ramon Sessions) and the second group was really good. You play that way for 48 minutes and you wear opponents down -- if you're committed to doing that.
"That's where we can't take a step back. That's going to be another challenge, too. More possessions per game. Are we going to stay committed to being that dirty team defensively. Those are things that I'm going to have to hold them accountable to because I think they like what they've seen and how we played thus far."
As Drew Gooden, 34, gets older he's running more and shooting more three-pointers. He came off the bench as the stretch power forward to help spark the second unit with eight points and seven rebounds.
"I'm numb," Gooden said. "It is tough to go all-out 100 percent on the defensive end and (then) go into a 25-foot shot and make it. I think we want to get conditioned as a group on being able to go out defensively and hold your man and come out to knock long-range shots down."