John Wall nets 13 in return in front of fans in Washington

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Sunday, December 11, 2022

WASHINGTON --John Wall stole the ball and then sank a jumper, and although he was a member of the visiting team now, the fans in Washington still sounded impressed.

So he egged them on a bit by yelling something he revealed after the game.

"Still my city," he said.

Wall scored 13 points in his return to Washington, and Nicolas Batum made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 23.8 seconds remaining to help the LA Clippers send the Wizards to their sixth straight loss 114-107 on Saturday night. Paul George scored 36 points for Los Angeles.

The Wizards drafted Wall with the No. 1 overall pick in 2010, and he played nine seasons with the team. After missing 2019-20, he was traded to Houston, and he returned to Washington as a member of the Rockets in 2021. But there were no fans for that game because of COVID-19. Wall didn't play last season either.

With Reggie Jackson out Saturday, the Clippers gave Wall his first start of this season. He received an ovation when he was introduced, and then again during an early timeout when a tribute video was shown.

"This is something I've been waiting for for four years," Wall said. "The first time I got traded, I came back with Houston, it was COVID so you couldn't be here. Then last year I wasn't playing. ... I'm glad I got the opportunity to appreciate it and be here, and get the love that I think I deserved. I feel like I got my flowers."

Wall seemed to find a groove in the second quarter. The jumper that led to his "still my city" exclamation capped a stretch of six quick points by him. Then he found Moses Brown inside for a dunk moments later.

"I thought it was great," Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said. "Just seeing the crowd, and the starting lineup, and how the crowd gave him all the love. You love to see that, especially for a guy who has gave so much to this city."

While the night was about Wall, it was Batum who made big shots in the final quarter. He hit three 3-pointers in the last 4:52 and finished with 12 points. Kyle Kuzma scored 25 of his 35 points in the first half for Washington.

After Batum's 3 put Los Angeles up 110-107, Kristaps Porzingis forced an ill-advised 3 while being tightly guarded by Kawhi Leonard. That shot was an air ball, and then Washington's Deni Avdija was called for a flagrant foul with 16.1 seconds left.

The Wizards scored the game's first 10 points and were up 63-60 at halftime. They extended that advantage to 13 in the third, but Los Angeles scored the final 15 points of the period and took its first lead on Luke Kennard's 3-pointer at the buzzer.

George started the scoring in the fourth with a jumper, and it was tight the rest of the way.

Porzingis had 30 points and 15 rebounds.

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