Richard Carson/Associated Press
It took 735 days, two surgeries and one trade before John Wall returned to the nba. Based on his performance Thursday night, it was hard to tell any time had passed at all.
The five-time All-Star made his regular-season debut with the Houston Rockets on New Year’s Eve, dropping 22 points with nine assists and six rebounds over 37 minutes in a 122-119 victory over the Sacramento Kings—a vintage performance for the point guard who averaged 20 per night before back-to-back heel injuries kept him out since 2018.
“Not bad for my first game in two years,” Wall told reporters afterwards. “I can pat myself on the back for that.”
Wall certainly looked excited to be back on the floor in an official game. He took the first shot of the night for Houston, missing on a 20-foot pull-up jumper 16 seconds into the first quarter. His second field-goal attempt, a three-pointer three minutes later, didn’t fall either. So Wall went back to basics, taking a pass from James Harden and slamming it through the rim to ensure he got on the scoresheet.
That got the job done.
“The first basket was a relief to know that I’m back,” Wall said. “I feel amazing. I feel like I’m in high school all over again. I feel like I’m not even 30 years old.”
The guard would go on to finish eight-of-20 from the field, but the performance was enough to get Houston (1-2) it’s first win of the year over an upstart Kings team (3-2).
Wall was due to make his return on opening night for the Rockets but was forced to self-isolate in line with the league’s health and safety protocols after member of the organization tested positive for covid-19. Just another roadblock on a comeback tour littered with far too many.
Alongside Harden (33 points, eight assists), Wall showed Houston still fields one of the most formidable backcourts in the Western Conference. But those discussions are for another night.
On Thursday it was special enough to get Wall back on the floor, even if he knows he has room to improve.
“I know I’ll be even better for the next game,” Wall said.
Thankfully he shouldn’t have to wait nearly as long for his next tipoff. Houston is back in action Saturday to finish off a back-to-back with the Kings at 5 p.m. ET on NBATV.