Posts Tagged ‘A.J. Price’

Wall’s Return Puts Heat On Wittman

 

HANG TIME, Texas – The win over the defending champion Heat in the first week of December was an eye opener. Taking down the Thunder in the first week of January was no less impressive.

But if the goal of the Wizards is to provide more than a once-a-month shock to the NBA system, then the season begins tonight.

Point guard John Wall will make his season debut tonight against the Hawks after missing three months due to a stress injury in his left patella. While nobody is expecting to see the player that averaged 16.3 points. 8.6 assists and 4.6 rebounds in his first two seasons, just having the former No. 1 draft pick on the court is finally a lift for the club that is again foundering at the bottom with a 5-28 record, the worst in the league.

Wall is trying to keep a lid on expectations, as he told Michael Lee of the Washington Post:

“I figure the first couple games probably won’t be the best games,” Wall said after practicing for the third consecutive day without complications from his left knee.

“Just go out there and play my game,” he said. “Don’t do too much. I know that’s the main thing I’ve got to do for my first game back. Just let the game come to me and just try to help my team out.”

Wall also doesn’t expect to have a difficult adjustment to playing alongside several new teammates after sitting next to the Wizards coaching staff for nearly every game and observing their tendencies. His teammates have already marveled as his speed and decision-making, which has been sorely missed for a team has started five different point guards this season – A.J. Price, Shaun Livingston, Jordan Crawford, Shelvin Mack and Garrett Temple.

When asked if he felt any external or internal pressures with coming back, Wall quickly responded, “No pressure at all.”
The biggest challenge for him, Wall said, will be “getting my legs underneath me but just working the offense, being the point guard, finding my teammates and knowing guys’ sweet spots is pretty easy to me.”

Without Wall to run the show, the Wizards have been virtually clueless all season, unable to attack defenses and score. In one more season when Washington made significant changes to the lineup — Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza, rookie Bradley Beal – they have clearly lacked a leader to pull it all together.

While the medical staff will have Wall operating under a limit on playing minutes as he works his way back into game shape, Wizards coach Randy Wittman says there will be no limits to what he asks of his franchise player in terms of leading his team.

“John is going to have the ball in his hands a lot,” Wittman said. “I don’t want to take any pressure off him. He hasn’t gotten any pressure yet this year. I want him to feel some pressure. John likes pressure.”

Of course, Wittman can only hope that Wall will relieve any pressure on his own situation, which has to be in the crosshairs of a season when Mike Brown, Avery Johnson and Scott Skiles have already been relieved of their head coaching jobs.

If there has been a reason that Wittman has been spared the same fate, it’s because he’s been coaching with one hand tied behind his back without Wall. Now that the Wizards’ main man is back in the lineup, the heat is on and the clock is ticking.

Wall’s Frustration Intensifies As Still No Target Date For His Wizards Return

DALLAS – Washington Wizards point guard John Wall said Wednesday that he still doesn’t have a target date to join his teammates for the first time this season. He continues to rehab from a stress fracture in his right knee, a daily grind that  isn’t getting any easier with which to cope.

“Still tough and frustrating,” Wall said as he laced his sneakers to go put up some jump shots with assistant coach Sam Cassell prior to the Wizards’ game against the Dallas Mavericks.

The final days of November will mark the eight-week period that Wall was expected to miss after being diagnosed with the early stages of a non-traumatic stress injury in the knee just prior to the start of training camp. However, it’s apparent that Washington’s young potential star won’t make the deadline.

When the team is at home, Wall pushes through rehab and then does little else.

“Just lock myself in my house and listen to music,” he said.

Wall, as well as injured center Nene (who also has no timetable for a return from plantar fasciitis) travels with the team, sits in on film sessions and remains in close contact with coach Randy Wittman and his teammates, who are battling their own frustrations with six consecutive losses heading into Wednesday’s game.

“We talk, he’s with us all the time. That’s why we bring him with us, he and Nene,” Wittman said. “They’re around the team, they’re with us in all the meetings, we talk and I want them to talk to their teammates, as well, seeing what they’re seeing. It’s a different game sitting over there (on the bench) than when they’re out running up and down the floor, and they can be a help in that area.”

Wall, 22, would rather be running up and down the floor and getting his third season off the ground. For the first time in a long time, excitement was building heading into training camp. The roster had been overhauled. Gone are the knuckleheads and underachievers that not only made the Wizards hard to watch for so many years, but hard to root for, too.

They were replaced with veterans such as Trevor Ariza, Emeka Okafor, A.J. Price (a career backup in his fourth season charged with running the point in Wall’s absence) Martell Webster and promising rookie Bradley Beal, who is leading the team in scoring. There’s also improving big man Kevin Seraphin, who started to come on last season and is averaging 9.7 points and 3.8 rebounds.

The 6-foot-11 Nene and the play-making Wall would serve as huge additions.

Wittman, when asked if doctors have given him a target date for Wall’s return, pursed his lips, shook his head and said, “I don’t have one, unless you’ve got one.”

Wall and the Wizards have no choice but to wait, and hope to keep from digging into an irreversible hole.

“Yeah, it’s tough, but nobody’s making any excuses,” said Wall, who averaged 16.3 points and 8.2 assists in his first two seasons. “We think we’ve got enough talent on this team to go out there and play with what we have. We just haven’t closed out games. We’ve been in a lot of games, we just haven’t closed them out. We believe in our teammates, some guys are injured, some guys are not, but it’s a great opportunity for other guys to step up and prove themselves.”

Shaqtin’ A Fool: Episode 11



Some folks near and dear to our own hearts get the treatment this week in Shaq’s latest batch of foolish plays. NBA TV’s Dennis Scott and Greg Anthony are in the mix along with Steve Blake, A.J. Price and Iman Shumpert for this week’s Shaqtin’ A Fool play. Vote now!

Pacers’ Collison a ‘game-time’ call

INDIANAPOLIS – If it were up to Darren Collison, he would be starting for the Indiana Pacers in Game 3 of their first-round Eastern Conference series against the Chicago Bulls Thursday night at Conseco Fieldhouse.

It is, of course, not up to Collison as much as it is up to his sprained left ankle, the professional opinions of the team’s medical staff and the balance as judged by head coach Frank Vogel between how much Collison  might help vs. hurt the Pacers’ chances.

In other words, we’re looking at the proverbial game-time decision.

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