When John Wall returned to the Wizards – a team that suffered through the first 33 games of the season without the point guard – Washington instantly became a team that could compete through the final buzzer, as opposed to a team that was accustomed to losing leads late.

It wasn’t easy for Wall to watch his team from the sideline as they battled night in and night out, only to come up short in the fleeting minutes of games.

“It’s very tough because I knew we had a good team coming in,” Wall told 106.7 The Fan’s Holden and Danny Tuesday. “And it sucks that you can’t be there from the start with your team.”

They’ve rebounded with him in the lineup, or at least improved; 7-7 since his Jan. 12 return.

“I think I just needed to try to be a leader for my teammates and push the pace,” Wall said of the difference he’s made to the team. I just get easier shots for guys. They gave it their best effort. We just needed closers and better ways to finish our games.”

The Wizards have won half of the 14 contests he’s been on the court, two more than they did in the 33 he was off it, including a victory Monday against the 34-win Clippers. Wall silenced the critics quick to discredit that win in a game that was missing two All-Stars: Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.

“We knew we had to come out and protect home court. You don’t make no sacrifices if somebody’s injured or out. You got to go out there and play.”

Wall believes he’s gradually transitioning into an All-Star caliber player himself, as he adds pieces to the game to build upon the leadership he already offers.

“It’s just going out there and having big games every night, not scoring-wise, but just leading my team and getting wins,” Wall said. “I think my jump shot is coming along. My pace is good. You just got to keep winning. That’s how you get noticed.”

He went on to say they could have been a playoff contender this season had everyone been fully healthy to start the year.

“You see that a lot of teams are giving us more respect and taking us more serious when we play as a team, do the right stuff on defense and move the ball offensively. We’re a pretty tough team to play against.”


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