John Wall and JaVale McGhee are running out of things to prove for the Washington Wizards. They’ve scored, they’ve defended and they’ve impressed this week in NBA Summer League play in Las Vegas. And on Friday night in front of a packed crowd at Cox Pavilion, they came back.

Wall and McGhee combined for 60 points, including 36 in the second half, as the Wizards erased a 13-point halftime deficit to edge the New Orleans Hornets 90-89 on Lester Hudson’s buzzer beater.

Wall led all scorers with 31 points and McGhee added 29 points and eight rebounds. The duo was instrumental in Washington’s comeback, flashing the athleticism and speed that has become the pair’s trademark in four Summer League games, all won by Washington.

New Orleans’ Craig Brackins knocked down a three-pointer with two seconds remaining to give New Orleans a 89-88 lead. After a Wizards timeout, Wall inbounded to Hudson who swished a deep jump shot with no time remaining on the clock to keep Washington’s perfect summer record intact and continue the feel-good week of Wall’s debut.

Maurice Ager led the Hornets with 23 points but couldn’t compete with Washington’s one-two punch. McGhee had a series of highlights, including a behind the back layup and a one-handed finish over a defender late in the fourth quarter that brought the crowd out of their seats.

Wall failed to continue his two-game streak of registering double-digit assists, but did fill the stat sheet with three assists, three steals, six rebounds and a block. He also continued to build his reputation for being unguardable, drawing fouls and attempting 13 free throws on the night.

Wall has shot a combined 47 free throws through four games, connecting on 87 percent of his attempts.

Washington will conclude summer league play on July 17 at 4 p.m. against the New York Knicks but win or lose, it’s been a successful week so far for the Wizards. Wall has impressed in his debut and McGhee has flashed All-Star ability at times. The two have driven Washington to an unbeaten week that’s earned excited—but guarded—reviews from team executives.

“It’s a process, this is their first taste of NBA basketball,” Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said in a televised interview. “Bodies are bigger, the athletes are quicker it’s some veteran players that are playing here so overall I think they’re making good progress. They’re learning and they’re learning each other. They’re learning our concepts, they’re learning our terminology and you can see a little bit of chemistry developing especially between John and JaVale.”

 

Stephen D. Riley

Special to the AFRO