Christian Wood thought new Rockets teammate John Wall was back in “All-Star mode” Thursday as he played his first regular season game in 735 days, writes Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Wall has been counting the days, as he told reporters after he posted 22 points, six rebounds and nine assists in a win over the Kings.
“It was great, man, just to get out there and have fun,” he said. “When I get between those four lines and once the ball touches my hands after the jump ball, I was fine. I was happy to be able to compete with some of the best guys in this league and (demonstrate) that I have the ability to be one of the best point guards in this league.”
Wall said he feels “amazing” after being sidelined for more than two full years by surgeries on his left heel and a ruptured Achilles tendon. He displayed the explosiveness he had before the injuries, getting six of his eight baskets on layups and dunks. Coach Stephen Silas believes Wall, who has been in quarantine for the past week, will improve as he gets more familiar with playing alongside James Harden.
“They haven’t been together, and we’re still trying to figure it out — who has it and who’s playing off the ball some,” Silas said. “They’re kind of figuring it out on their own with my help. That relationship has to grow and get better and better.”
There’s more from the Southwest Division:
- Wall talked to Shams Charania of The Athletic about the difficulties he faced after the injuries, including the possibility that his foot might have to be amputated (video link). “It was tough,” Wall said. “I went through three or four different infections. So it got to the point where, ‘OK, are you going to have to cut your foot off or not?’ That’s where it got real with me.”
- It was fake crowd noise because no fans are allowed in the arena, but the Thunder made sure Pelicans center Steven Adams received a loud ovation in his return to Oklahoma City Thursday night, according to NOLA.com. Adams spent seven years in OKC before being traded to New Orleans during the offseason.
- Mavericks guard Josh Richardson patterned his game after Jimmy Butler and can’t believe he was involved in the trade that brought Butler to Miami, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. “I really like Jimmy Butler a lot. Especially when he was rising in Chicago, I was a big fan,” Richardson said. “… And it was crazy like actually being in a Jimmy Butler trade. It was kind of like surreal, because he was one of my favorite players and I was getting traded for him. And that was like a really interesting thing for me.”