- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 28, 2011

ATLANTA — At the start of the game between the Washington Wizards and the Atlanta Hawks, the home team opened up a 15-0 lead before John Wall put the Wizards on the scoreboard. Wall went on to score 10 of the team’s first 12 points.

The frustration was evident on the young point guard’s face — if the Wizards were to win this game, he’d have to do it himself. Then, help came off the bench in the form of Nick Young, who connected on his first five shots before finally missing, while the starters struggled to connect all evening long.

In the end, the Wizards dropped a 101-83 decision to begin the season 0-2.

After suffering through his own offensive woes in the team’s two preseason games and the home opener against New Jersey, Wall had a slightly better outing against the Hawks, going 6-for-15 from the floor and scoring 20 points. Wall also had six assists and six turnovers.

“Guys weren’t scoring, so he had it going a little bit,” Wizards coach Flip Saunders said of Wall.

“He’s trying hard. He’s still the youngest player we have and there’s a lot of pressure on him. When things go bad, he’s trying to make something happen and produce. But overall, I thought he competed better.”

Wall admitted he feels the pressure to make things happen, but at the same time, tries his best to include his teammates.

“I try to get everybody involved as much as possible,” Wall said.

Wall knew the Hawks would come out strong in their home opener.

“They’re a smart team and a veteran team. All they did was attack, attack, attack. They got out to a big lead, and we couldn’t get back into it after that,” Wall said.

Providing help off the bench, along with Young, was rookie Chris Singleton. Singleton played 27 minutes and once again, made the kind of contributions that don’t always show up on the shat sheet. Singleton had seven points and four fouls, while pulling down three rebounds, taking charges, and guarding just about every spot on the floor.

“He plays hard, plays multiple positions, really competes,” Saunders said. “He’s going to be hard to keep off the floor.”

Rashard Lewis also tapped into a fountain of youth for this game, playing 28 minutes and scoring 13 points.

By the end of the third quarter, the Wizards were down by 21, and were unable to recover in the end.

After making news in the Twitter universe with his comments regarding his role on the team, Andray Blatche turned in a spectacularly bad performance, going 2-for-13 from the floor and scoring just four points.

Jordan Crawford might have had a case of stage fright playing against his old team. The Wizards‘ starting guard went 0-for-6, and did not score.

But despite Saunders‘ insistence that the team can’t rush Young back, or play him too many minutes since Young is essentially going through his own version training camp right now, the Wizards need his offense.

Young says he about 85 to 90 percent back in basketball shape.

“I’m just about there. I got back on the court, I’m getting my timing back,” Young said. “As the flow of the game got going, I got into it. But I got winded a lot, I’m not going to lie. It’s something I’ve got to keep working on.”

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