One night after Blake Griffin left the league salivating in his debut, rookie John Wall was served up an NBA-sized portion of humble pie in his first game.
The Washington Wizards lost 112-82 to Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic on Thursday, spoiling the No. 1 overall pick’s debut and giving him a taste of how difficult the NBA can be.
Wall finished with 14 points and nine assists, but much of it came in garbage time when the game’s outcome had long been decided. The Magic jumped out to a 24-7 lead in the first quarter and led by as many as 35 in what turned into a season-opening blowout.
Wall shot just 6-of-19 from the field and committed a team-high three turnovers. Although he showed flashes of brilliance with his all-world athleticism and yo-yo handles, he also committed the type of mistakes you would expect a rookie to make in his first pro game.
"It was tough," Wall said. "It's really telling me what I need to work on, but I already know. But as a team aspect, we have a lot we need to work on."
The Wizards stay on the road to face the Hawks on Saturday before returning home Tuesday to play the 76ers at home. Gilbert Arenas re-joins the team from an ankle injury against Philadelphia, but only in a supporting role as head coach Flip Saunders has already handed the team’s reigns to its prized rookie.
After the game, Saunders was bombarded with Wall questions and delivered a curt response when someone asked him to evaluate the rookie’s performance.
“We got beat by 29, so he didn’t do very good,” he said.
Welcome to The League, rook.
With the Giants and Rangers traveling today, here are the NBA games to watch tonight:
Orlando Magic at Miami Heat (8:00 p.m., ESPN) - After warming up against Wall and the Wizards, the Magic travel to Miami to take on LeBron & Co. in a potential Eastern Conference Finals preview.
Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix Suns (10:30 p.m., ESPN) - It’s difficult to three-peat and still be under the radar, but thanks to the offseason Heat hype, the Lakers seem to be doing just that. They face the Suns, who downed the Utah Jazz 110-94 on Thursday.
BY THE NUMBERS
4 – Consecutive walks the Texas Rangers’ bullpen allowed in the 8th inning Thursday, a World Series record.
21 1/3 – Innings Giants starter Matt Cain has pitched this postseason without allowing an earned run. Only Christy Mathewson and Walter Hoyt, each of whom threw 27 scoreless innings, have done better.
1 – Number at which the defending national champion Duke Blue Devils debuted in The Associated Press’ preseason men’s basketball poll. Runner-up Butler starts the season at No. 17.