First chapter of Rose-Wall matchup ensues


Nov 13

In what is likely to be the first of many great matchups over their NBA careers, point guards Derrick Rose and John Wall met head-to-head for the first time in the regular season on Saturday.

While Wall has been extremely impressive in the early going, averaging 18.4 points, 10.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 3.3 steals per game entering Saturday’s contest, he made a minor admission when asked about playing against Rose in that he’s essentially trying to follow Rose’s lead.

“It’s a great matchup,” said Wall prior to the game. “He’s a talented point guard that reached all the expectations that I’m trying to get to—All-Star, Rookie of the Year, those kinds of things. Every night, you play against someone talented and tonight’s going to be a tough matchup.”

While multiple similarities clearly exist—both are dynamic point guards with off the charts athleticism who played one season collegiately under John Calipari (Rose at Memphis and Wall at Kentucky)—Wall admits the comparisons are valid but also makes it clear he’s looking to make a name for himself.

“We’re two different people,” said Wall. “There are similarities, but he’s Derrick Rose and I’m John Wall. He’s proven himself on this level already. I’m trying to prove I belong and be the kind of player he is.”

So far, Wall is well on his way. His best game as a pro came earlier this week, when he recorded his first career triple-double with 19 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds versus the Houston Rockets. But he acknowledged that the transition hasn’t been easy.

“It’s a little tougher [than what he expected],” said Wall. “You get some bumps and bruises, but you get a learning experience from it. People move faster and the defenses are better than they were in college. It’s a tough process, but I think I’m doing well so far.”

Wizards Coach Flip Saunders agreed with Wall’s sentiment, but shied away from any comparisons between his point guard and Chicago’s Rose.

“I think it’s still too early. You can’t really compare John with Derrick at this point,” said Saunders, who added that he’s been impressed by Wall’s maturity and leadership abilities. “It’s [Derrick’s] third year and he’s played internationally already. Just from your rookie year to your second year, there is such a marked improvement. Every time John goes out, similar to Derrick’s rookie year, it’s a new experience. You’re going against new players in arenas you’ve never played in before a lot of times. But they both have blazing speed and they’re extremely competitive.”

As Wall gets acclimated with the NBA game, one of the veterans on Washington’s roster that is helping him do so is former Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich. Acquired in an offseason deal that allowed Chicago to become a contender for two of the marquee free agents, Hinrich has settled into his niche with the Wizards and provided some helpful mentoring for the 20-year old Wall.

“He’s helped me a whole lot, especially with my defense and defending on the ball,” said Wall of Hinrich, who has started in all seven of Washington’s games thus far and averaged 11.4 points, 4.4 assists and 2.7 rebounds per game. “Kirk does a great job of chasing the ball off screens and helpside defense. I’ve been trying to learn a lot from him on that side. On the offensive end, he and Gilbert [Arenas] are both doing a good job helping me out.”

Wall added that Hinrich also gave him a heads up on what to expect from the Bulls, though things have changed significantly since Hinrich last suited up with Chicago last April.

“We know they’re going to be a physical team,” stated Wall. “They play smart and hard. They’ve got a great new coach that is a defensive specialist. They have a talented point guard, and on this level, that helps you out a whole lot. You just surround good players around him and he can make them better. That’s what Derrick has been doing.”

As for defending Rose, Wall knows he can’t do it on his own.

“You’ve got to do a good job with team defense to stop him,” said Wall of Rose. “He does a great job of penetrating and he’s an explosive guard. The main thing is that just one person won’t be able to stop him. It’s going to take a team effort.”

Thus far, Wall said his toughest matchup has been Cleveland’s Mo Williams.

“He’s a scoring type point guard who can push it and shoot the ball at will,” said Wall.

But in a league with so many other young, talented guards running the point—besides Rose and Williams, Wall mentioned Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams during his pregame comments—Wall fill find out quickly where he measures up. It’s a process that he welcomes, said Wall.

“It’s going to be great seeing where I stand against these talented point guards,” admitted Wall. “Not making it into a one-on-one, but just trying to come out with wins.”

Audio—Wizards point guard John Wall’s pregame comments (11.13.10):

Bulls vs. Wizards season notes

Saturday marks the regular season return of former Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich; Hinrich played his first seven seasons in Chicago and averaged 13.4 ppg, 5.8 apg, 3.0 rpg, 1.27 spg and 34.0 mpg in 514 regular season contests as a Bull … the Bulls have won the season series versus Washington the last two years, going 5-2 against the Wizards over that time … Derrick Rose led the Bulls in scoring every game last year against Washington, including a then career-high 37 points in Chicago’s 121-119 double overtime win on Jan. 15 … last season against Washington, Rose averaged 27.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 5.7 apg and 43.3 mpg … Chicago has won 12 of its last 18 meetings against Washington and nine of the last 11 in the Windy City … the Bulls last swept the season series with the Wizards in 1995-96 (4-0), while Washington has not swept the Bulls in a season series since 1979-80 (2-0) … in the 2006-07 series finale, the Bulls defeated the Wizards 101-68 for their largest margin of victory over Washington in series history (33 points) … in the team’s three meetings last year, Chicago outscored the Wizards 103.7 ppg to 102.3 ppg.

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