Wall passes milestone with flying colours

Wizards guard John Wall shooting the ball at the Capital One Arena in Washington during their 113-101 win over the Boston Celtics. Both teams could face each other again in the play-offs, should the Wizards finish seventh in the Eastern Conference.
Wizards guard John Wall shooting the ball at the Capital One Arena in Washington during their 113-101 win over the Boston Celtics. Both teams could face each other again in the play-offs, should the Wizards finish seventh in the Eastern Conference.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • Through much of his return with the Washington Wizards, John Wall has been experimenting.

He has tried wearing his hair in twists, but recently changed back to the mini-fro.

He has pushed the limits of his stamina and conditioning - playing another heavy-minute load on Tuesday against the Boston Celtics in his fourth game back after left-knee surgery.

Wall tested his jumper and his elevation - for one dunk attempt, he had to settle for a two-handed lay-in. But the one element of his game that needs no tinkering is his passing.

That gift still glistens even after spending half the season on the sidelines with various injuries.

As Washington defeated the Boston Celtics 113-101, Wall displayed his ever-present talent in collecting 11 assists - and surpassing 5,000 in his career - to go with 29 points.

He became the youngest active player (27 years, 216 days) to compile more than 10,000 points and 5,000 assists in his career, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

The five-time All-Star is also now the third-youngest player in National Basketball Association (NBA) history to reach 5,000 assists behind only Magic Johnson and Isaiah Thomas.

"He's one of the best passing point guards in the league and he's going to go down as one of the best passing point guards in the history of the league," Wizards coach Scott Brooks enthused.

Wall reached the milestone in the third quarter, dribbling and surveying the Celtics defence before finding Markieff Morris curling to the top of the free-throw line.

Wall passed, Morris hit the mid-range jumper - an emblematic play of the team's improved offensive flow while snapping a four-game losing streak.

Should Washington (43-38) win again in their regular-season finale (this morning, Singapore time) in Orlando against the Magic, they have a chance to move up to the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.

In that scenario, the Wizards would again face the second-seeded Celtics (54-27) in the first round of the play-offs.

Shorn of Kyrie Irving for the rest of the term, Boston will have to rely heavily on their young players in the post-season games.

In Atlanta, the Philadelphia 76ers (51-30) powered to a record-breaking 15th consecutive victory on Tuesday with a 121-113 defeat of the Atlanta Hawks at the Philips Arena.

J.J. Redick led the scoring with 28 points while Ersan Ilyasova weighed in with 26 off the bench as the Sixers set a franchise record for consecutive wins.

They can seal the third seed in the East when they return to Philadelphia to host the Milwaukee Bucks (44-37) as the NBA regular season concludes.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, WASHINGTON POST

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 12, 2018, with the headline 'Wall passes milestone with flying colours'. Print Edition | Subscribe