Washington Wizards coach Scott Brooks knew John Wall would be back to his explosive Eli Manning Jersey , elite self for the playoffs when the All-Star point guard was able to play 38 minutes in a regular-season loss at Cleveland.
It took Wall one additional outing to be absolutely certain he’ d be OK after coming back from surgery on his left knee, pointing to his 29-point, 12-assist effort against Boston five days later.
”I had a big game,” he said Monday, looking back at that victory from a couple of weeks ago. ”Kind of just started to see shots fall that I was falling short on the couple of games I had before that.”
As Wall prepares to lead the No. 8 seed Wizards into Game 5 against the No. 1 seed Raptors on Wednesday night in Toronto, it is as if he never was away for more than two months. As if he never needed that operation in the first place. As if he got a chance to ramp up for the postseason for more than merely four games.
And all of that outside chatter about whether Washington might just be better off without him, based on the team going 8-2 at the start of his absence in January and February, sure seems silly right about now. Especially after Wall carried Washington to a 106-98 victory in Game 4 on Sunday night by scoring eight of the host’s last 14 points and adding an assist – plus tight defense on DeMar DeRozan – after Bradley Beal fouled out with about five minutes left.
Did it while playing all 24 minutes in the second half, too. Plus, Wall revealed Monday that he twisted his right ankle down the stretch, although he declared himself fine.
”It’s always pulling teeth to try to get him off the court,” Brooks said. ”I like that. As a coach, you want that.”
Now Washington will need to grab a victory on the road at least once to claim a series in which the home team has won every game so far.
”You put John Wall on this team for 82 games,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said, ”and I guarantee they wouldn’t be eighth.”
Instead Authentic Brian Urlacher Jersey , Wall appeared in only 41 games this season, missing all four that Washington played against Toronto. But he sure is looking good when the games count the most.
He is averaging 26.8 points, 13 assists and 4.8 rebounds in the series.
And here’ s an obscure, yet telling, stat offered up by the Wizards: Wall joined Magic Johnson as the only players with at least 27 points, 14 assists and six rebounds in two consecutive playoff games.
”It was just a matter of time before he got back to himself,” Wizards forward Markieff Morris said. ”He just needed to get some games under his belt. Basically, just get his feet under him, get his wind back, and he would get back to how he was playing. Because he’s a competitor.”
That aspect of Wall’ s persona came out when he was trading barbs with Canadian rapper Drake during the series’ first two games in Toronto, when the Raptors were taking a 2-0 lead.
”I told him to be here for Game 3. He told me he was going to be here. Didn’t show up. He told me we were getting swept and he had the broom for us,” Wall said. ”I wanted him to know they weren’t going to sweep us.”
Associated Press writer Ian Harrison in Toronto contributed to this report.
鈥?Give ’em a hand: Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are heading back to the Super Bowl.Brady shook off a hand injury and threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola with 2:48 remaining , rallying the Patriots to a 24-20 comeback victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC championship Sunday.Brady, wearing a black bandage on his right hand after needing stitches to close a cut that happened on a play during practice earlier in the week, showed no signs of being hampered.And Zack Martin Jersey Elite , with the game 鈥?and the season 鈥?possibly on the line, the Patriots star came up big again.“I’ve had a lot worse,” Brady said. “I didn’t know that on Wednesday. It was a crazy injury. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday was a little scary. Then I started getting some confidence and today we did just enough to win.”Brady finished 26 of 38 for 290 yards and two touchdowns to Amendola for the Patriots (15-3), who’ll play the winner of Sunday night’s game between Minnesota and Philadelphia in Minneapolis on Feb. 4.It’s the eighth Super Bowl appearance for Brady and coach Bill Belichick, who have won five times 鈥?including last year’s 34-28 overtime rally against the Atlanta Falcons.“It’s pretty amazing. Just to be on a team that wins these kinds of games, it’s just a great accomplishment,” Brady said. “I’m just so proud of everyone on our team, we made so many great plays. Defense played so great when they needed to.”Blake Bortles and the Jaguars (12-7) led 20-10 early in the fourth quarter, but couldn’t hold against the defending champions. The NFL’s second-ranked defense kept Brady and the Patriots at bay for most of the game, but lost linebacker Myles Jack and defensive tackle Marcell Dareus on consecutive plays on New England’s winning drive.“It’s a locker room obviously with a lot of pain,” Jaguars coach Doug Marrone said. “I’m sure they’re hurting inside. I’m hurting. The players are hurting.”With New England trailing 20-17, Amendola returned a punt 20 yards to put the ball at the Jaguars 30. Brady hit James White for 15 yards, Amendola for 8 and then the quarterback ran up the middle for 2 yards and a first down.On first-and-goal from the 5 Leighton Vander Youth Esch Jersey , White ran for a yard to set up the go-ahead score from Brady to Amendola.Jacksonville 鈥?looking to reach the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history 鈥?had one more shot, but Bortles’ throw on fourth-and-15 to Dede Westbrook was knocked away by Stephon Gilmore.“Guys are upset,” Bortles said. “It’s not what anybody expects 鈥?contrary to popular belief. Those guys fully expected to win that game.”The Patriots ran out the clock, with Dion Lewis’ 18-yard scamper with 90 seconds remaining sealing the victory. And they played most of the game without tight end Rob Gronkowski, who left late in the first half and didn’t return.Brady’s hand was the most-scrutinized body part in Boston since his ankle before the 2008 Super Bowl, and Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling’s right ankle tendon 鈥?the bloody sock 鈥?in the 2004 playoffs.Brady hurt his right hand during practice earlier in the week.“Of all the plays, my season wasn’t going to end on a handoff in practice,” Brady said.“Mentally, it probably stressed him out a bit,” Amendola said. “It’s hard to throw a football with stitches in your thumb. Everybody knows how tough he is.”Some Patriots fans were worried, but not Belichick.“He’s a tough guy, we all know that,” Belichick said. “But we’re not talking about open heart surgery here”Brady warmed up without a glove on his hand, and he came out throwing. He completed his first six passes for 57 yards to march the Patriots down the field. The drive stalled when Brady was sacked by Dante Fowler Jr., and New England settled for Stephen Gostkowski’s 31-yard field goal. A wide-open Marcedes Lewis gave the Jaguars a 7-3 lead 45 seconds into the second quarter with a 4-yard touchdown catch from Bortles .Leonard Fournette gave Jacksonville a 14-3 lead midway through the second quarter with a 4-yard TD run Landon Collins Giants Jersey , hushing the crowd at Gillette Stadium.The Jaguars made some big mistakes just before halftime. Bortles completed a 12-yard pass to Lewis on third-and-7 from the Patriots 44, but Jacksonville was called for delay of game.That wiped out a first down, and Bortles was sacked by Adam Butler on the next play to force a punt. Jacksonville was called for six penalties that cost the Jaguars 98 yards, while New England was penalized just once.With just over two minutes left before halftime, New England’s offense took over and the fans chanted “Braa-dy! Braa-dy!”And their quarterback delivered 鈥?with some help from two big penalties.On first-and-10 from the Patriots 40, Brady threw a long pass for Gronkowski, who was injured when he got popped by Barry Church. Church was called for unnecessary roughness, putting the ball at Jacksonville’s 45.“It was a tough call,” Church said, “but you’ve got to go with what they call.”A.J. Bouye was called for pass interference on the next play. The 32-yard penalty gave the Patriots the ball at the Jaguars 13. After a 12-yard catch by Cooks, White ran it in from the 1 to make it 14-10.Josh Lambo gave Jacksonville a 17-10 lead 4:37 into the third quarter with a 54-yard field goal. He added a 43-yarder 8 seconds into the fourth quarter to make it a 10-point game.But Brady & Co. were just getting started.After Jacksonville went three-and-out following Jack’s fumble recovery of Lewis, Brady and the Patriots offense came out with a sense of urgency.They marched 85 yards on eight plays to cut it to a three-point deficit on Amendola’s 9-yard TD catch with 8:44 l.