You can totally tell John Wall's worth to the Wizards by looking at the scoresheet. The top line, or the bottom, depending on where the final score is.
Wall did not have a particularly good game Tuesday night in a 98-83 win over the Knicks at the Garden, judging by his personal statistical line: 11 points on 5-for-11 shooting, seven assists, one rebound, no three-pointers and only 1-for-4 on free throws. Big deal. He knows, and the former point guard on the other team's bench knows, that Wall is the Wizards' franchise player and a franchise player is judged on wins and losses.
"Yes sir, that's how I see it," Wall said. "Like tonight, I didn't get a double-double and people will ask me why I didn't get another one. I don't care. As long as I'm not turning the ball over, and I'm giving my team a chance to win games . . . that's what point guards get known for in this league."
He was really pleased that Paul Pierce had 15 of his 17 points in the second half, that Andre Miller led a strong bench performance with 15 points, that the second-half defense was what really turned the game around. "Defensive stopper, that was me tonight," Wall said. "I'm not even going to talk about my layups."
So what that he missed at least three of those. Every night, Wall is the most important player on the floor for the Wizards. The Knicks know that, to eventually make it to the heights of the Eastern Conference, Wall is an obstacle that they must scale.
As a point guard in the Western Conference, Derek Fisher knew John Wall mostly by reputation, which was considerable considering Wall was the first overall draft pick in 2010.
"I've probably seen him more in preparation for tonight than I ever did playing against him," the Knicks coach said. "It seems like he is in control of his decision making. That's where most young guards struggle the most, deciding when it's their turn, when to get everyone else involved . . . He seems to have found a pretty good balance. Ultimately as a lead guard, your team is supposed to win."
Wall was not a total slug. He was there when the Wizards needed him most, with five points, two assists and a steal in the third quarter, when they turned a five-point deficit into a 12-point lead. "With our team," Wall said, "we don't have one go-to guy. We're a team that tries to have five or six guys in double figures for the whole year."
But the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 draft is as close to a go-to guy as you're going to see, especially when you're going to the league standings.
"They were a playoff team last year and they look pretty good so far," Fisher said, "so he's doing his job."