While the Redskins continue to sort through all of the mess with coach Mike Shanahan and quarterback Donovan McNabb, one of Washington's brightest stars shined Tuesday night, as rookie point guard John Wall led the Wizards to an impressive overtime win over Philadelphia.
We knew Wall was special last year when he led Kentucky to a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Washington fans got a glimpse of just how special on opening night, as Wall just missed a double-double in his professional debut, finishing with 14 points and nine rebounds against a tough Orlando team.
After Tuesday night? Wizards fans should be downright giddy. To put it simply, Wall was electric and his presence was felt on the court and in the stands. His led his team in scoring, registering 29 points on 9-of-16 shooting, while 13 assists and nine steals once again had him from just shy of reaching a memorable platform, this time the always-coveted triple double.
But beyond the box score, fans got to see a young talent that was unbelievably aggressive at the point of attack. With his nine steals, Wall had plenty of opportunities to show of his talents on fast breaks and he did not disappoint. Late in the third quarter, Wall was dribbling against a defender at midcourt, looking for any open space on the court. It didn't take long for him to find it and before the defender could react, Wall was already past him.
Not only did he impress with his speed, but his basketball intelligence emerged, too. Sure, eight turnovers on the night show he has plenty of room for patience and maturity, but with less than a minute left in the game, Wall showed why he's going to be one of the brightest stars in the game.
With the Wizards trailing by three, the 76ers defense concentrated their defensive attack toward the top of the key, making sure to discourage any easy 3-point attempt. So when Wall received the inbound pass just inside the free-throw line, the normal inclination would have been to kick the ball out and make them take a guarded shot. Instead, Wall found himself unguarded and quickly raced to the basket for the easy layup, cutting the deficit to one and putting the pressure back on Philadelphia to make its free throws. Washington would tie the game as time expired, only to claim its first win of the season in overtime, 116-115.
It will be a long time before Washington fans can get excited at the prospect of bringing home an NBA title. But for now, I think they might have the next best thing in Wall.