John Wall wasn't very happy last night.
He certainly has a right to be considering the 13-point loss to Charlotte last night dropped Washington to a mere 2.5 games ahead of the Bobcats. Charlotte will be trying to surge late to get a higher seed for the postseason and no team wants to face Miami.
But specifically he was mad about Kemba Walker last night. Walker had a slightly below average scoring game with 16 points but he sparked the Bobcats late run that gave Charlotte the ultimate double-digit lead. About midway through the fourth quarter, both teams were about evenly matched. And then Charlotte took a small lead that quickly turned into a big lead on a four-point play in which John Wall was called for a foul on a Kemba Walker three-pointer from the left corner. Wizards coach Randy Wittman got a technical and Walker made all four free throws.
After the game, Wall had this to say to CSN Washington: "I didn't touch him. All he did was scream," Wall said. "The ref gave him calls all night because he was screaming."
However, Wall doesn't blame the officiating for the game's outcome.
"They called it too tight with certain calls that didn't go our way, but it's still not the reason why we lost."
I'm not sure what Wall was talking about in regards to Walker drawing fouls "all night." Besides the four-point play, he drew one other shooting foul, which came in the third quarter in transition at the basket on Wall.
He drew five total fouls. Four were by Wall, including the two shooting fouls noted above, the one personal foul at the end of the first half and the one offensive foul towards the end of the game. The other was a charge by Trevor Ariza. Again, I didn't see anything that drew my eye as outrageous. I do have my biases. You're reading a Bobcats blog right now. You ought to know that. But even objectively, I didn't see anything extraordinary.
I also didn't hear any screaming either, but I wasn't there.
I went back in the tape to see the other three personal fouls Wall was called for. His first foul of the night came with a second left in the first half. Walker got past him and Wall got caught with his hand in the cookie jar reaching in for a steal. He was called for an offensive foul in the third quarter for trying to run through Al Jefferson, who had smartly rotated in time to plant his feet. Wall committed a second offensive foul late in the fourth quarter trying to run through Kemba Walker this time. I found no egregious calls against Wall.
Wall's real complaint isn't that Walker got these calls -- though he did go out of his way to say it -- but that he didn't draw enough despite his thoughts that he deserved more. Even he admits that it's a nightly event, not just against the Bobcats, that he doesn't receive visits to the free-throw line early in the game.
I always wait until the three-minute mark of the fourth quarter to get a call. Plenty of times I jumped to the basket. I think I should've been to the line plenty more.
Still, I think it's a fair gripe for Wall to have in regards to the three-point foul. There was minimal contact and it was a close game with possible big implications down the road. That was a big call and it can't be denied that it did help the Bobcats close out the game. But, you know what else helped the Bobcats close out the game? The 19-3 run that started with about 8:30 left in the game and ended 6 and a half minutes later.
What happens, happens. Sometimes it's in your favor and sometimes it's not. Pragmatically, you have to take the cards you're dealt and move on. It stinks. We've all been on either side of that scenario. And so it goes.
The differential in fouls was clearly what made Wall so frustrated. He said when he finally drew his first foul call, he was so heated he missed them both.
The Wizards' free throw totals in the game were well below their season average for free throw rate (FT / FGA, as basketball-reference defines it). Last night they were at 0.073, a notably poor rate compared to the season average of 0.180.
The Bobcats' rate, on the other hand, were about in line with their season average at 0.217 with a season average of 0.224. That's about at what the Wizards' allow their opponents to have this season anyway.
The disparity last night was big and requires some inspection but frankly, what if the Wizards aren't just unlucky but are also bad at drawing fouls? Their season FT rate ranks 29th out of 30 teams. Wall's free throw rate has declined a good bit in his last few years too. Granted, I haven't watched many Wizards games this year but with a sample size this big, maybe the Wizards have shown they're just consistently not good at getting fouls.
I don't want to rule out that they're not getting the fouls they deserve, though. Michael of CSN from the earlier link notes Wall hasn't gotten the whistle on obvious fouls in other games this year. I just don't think they're drawing that many to begin with.
Ultimately, John Wall's misdirected frustration will likely only result in him making a sizable donation to the NBA and the NBPA's charities of choice in the form of a fine.