When five-time All-Star guard John Wall went down with a midseason injury for a rebuilding Houston Rockets squad, many assumed that the 30-year-old might shut things down and begin preparing for the 2021-22 season. Reports emerged that a knee scope was a possibility.
As for Wall himself, he had other ideas.
In Wednesday’s shocking 102-93 victory (box score) over visiting Dallas, Wall led the way with a game-high 31 points, 7 assists, and 4 steals, and the Rockets were +22 in the 34 minutes that he played. Finally, it was Wall’s return to the court after missing four games due to injury.
Among his postgame comments:
We respect our coach, and guys in the locker room respect each other. We knew we were a good team early on, but there were a lot of injuries. One thing about this team, we never quite fighting. I love the group of guys I play with. We went on a 20-game losing streak, but none of us never blamed each other. We just tried to fight through and stick together as a family, and try to get through it.
Yeah, I’ve been banged up with a couple injuries, but whenever I can be out here and compete with my guys, that’s what I want to do. A lot of people thought that I was going to sit the rest of the season out because we don’t have a chance to make the playoffs, but I love the game too much. I’ve been out for two years (injured). I love the city I’m playing for, and I love the group of guys I’ve got as my brothers. I’m gonna continue to fight until the wheels fall off.
With Wednesday’s victory, the Rockets secured the 2020-21 season series against their Texas rivals by a 2-1 margin. Star center Christian Wood supplemented Wall’s big night with another double-double (22 points, 10 rebounds, and five made 3-pointers) while frontcourt mate Kelly Olynyk had 10 points and a career-high 18 rebounds.
Meanwhile, strong perimeter defense from the likes of Wall, Kevin Porter Jr., Sterling Brown, and Jae’Sean Tate helped limit Dallas superstar Luka Doncic to a subpar 9-of-23 shooting performance (34.6%).
The loss for Dallas (28-22) snapped a season-long winning streak of five games, while the Rockets (14-37) won for just the third time in 30 games. For the Mavericks, it’s a painful loss as they jockey for playoff positioning in the tightly packed Western Conference. For Houston, it’s a confidence-building win in a rocky and injury plagued season.
See below for a compilation of highlights and postgame reaction. Houston returns to action on Friday night against the Clippers in Los Angeles, with tipoff scheduled for 9:00 p.m. Central.