Posted by Art Garcia
LAS VEGAS — They came to see John Wall and they weren’t disappointed.
More than 4,000 curious souls packed COX Pavilion for the first true event of the desert version of Summer League. The No. 1 pick of the Draft donned an NBA uniform for the first time — albeit a practice version — in a competitive environment and quarterbacked Washington past Golden State 84-79 on Day 3.
Wall finished with a team-high 24 points (7-of-15 shooting) and dished out a game-high eight assists. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, as the one-year Kentucky phenom and new face of the Wizards coughed up the ball eight times in 33 minutes.
“I feel like I did good,” the 19-year-old point guard said. “At first I had the jitters. A little too many turnovers in my debut, but I think as it goes along I’ll calm those down.”
Wall displayed a confident streak and quickly developed an on-court rapport with JaVale McGee, connecting with the third-year center on several lobs and drop-offs under the basket. He’s was clearly Washington’s leader on the floor.
“Guy got 24 and 8, and he played kind of an average game,” Wizards coach Flip Saunders said. “That shows you the kind of game he has. He’s used to this. This is how it’s been since senior year in high school.
“Kentucky is the same way, so I think he’s comfortable in this kind of environment. I think he looks forward to this kind of environment. It gets him going and juices him up even more.”
Wall is going to be a hunted man for the rest of Summer League, but that’s nothing new for the former McDonald’s All-American and last season’s National Freshman of the Year. Washington faces the Los Angeles Clippers on Monday.
Wall started slowly, missing his first jumper badly and getting rejected at the basket on his second shot. He settled in soon after and drilled a jumper 5 1/2 minutes into the first quarter, bringing a healthy reaction from the sold-out crowd. Summer League officials shut down ticket windows before the game.
“Playing a real game with the crowd there, I haven’t done in a while, so the nerves were there a little bit,” Wall said.