Not much went right for the Washington Wizards in game three of their first-round playoff series with the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday.
The Hawks – down 0-2 in the contest – jumped on the Wizards from the first quarter and dominated the entire game blowing out their opponents 116-98.
It was a lacklustre display by Washington and only one player emerged from the encounter with any credit; superstar point guard John Wall.
Wall put up 29 points on 10-12 shooting and nearly outscored the rest of the team’s starting lineup who posted a combined 30 points.
On top of that, though it counted for nothing, the Wizards’ dynamic star produced the highlight play of the night.
The four-time All-Star is the fastest ball-handler in the league and the Hawks learned that the hard way.
After collecting an inbound pass following a made basket by the Hawks, Wall went coast-to-coast within a matter of seconds, darted past Hawks point guard Denis Schroder with an incredible behind-the-back dribble and ended with an emphatic dunk that may not be topped during the playoffs this year.
It rivals Myles Turner’s ferocious slam over Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson as the dunk of the playoffs so far but in terms of sheer difficulty and skill, Wall wins hands down.
Of course, critics will point to the fact that the Wizards were still down by 23 at that stage and went on to lose the game in embarrassing fashion, but it shouldn’t take away from this breathtaking play and our enjoyment of it.
We’ve grown so accustomed to Wall’s ridiculous athleticism and speed that we almost take this kind of play for granted but there are still times when he can shock you with the moments he delivers.
Despite the stunning play, however, the 26-year-old would definitely have swapped that for a win and a 3-0 series lead over Atlanta.
Instead, they now head into game four in ATL with their pride dented and in danger of letting the Hawks even things up.
The Wizards are going to need other players to step up and support Wall if they are to close out this series.
His backcourt partner Bradley Beal went 6-20 from the field and missed all six of his three-point attempts and only registered 12 points after averaging 26.5 points over the first two games.
“That’s probably the most I’ve ever seen him air-ball in one game,” Wall said. “He’ll figure it out.”
A crucial game four takes place on Monday.