Chicago Bulls rookie Denzel Valentine had the best outing of his career on Tuesday night against the Washington Wizards, leading a Dwyane Wade/Jimmy Butler-less team with 19 points, with five three-pointers to boot.
The thing he likely didn’t know was that after celebrating a three-point basket in the fourth quarter, he had ignited opposing point guard John Wall to take over the game.
With the Wizards clicking at the Bulls heels, Valentine gave his team a little breathing room, hitting a three that gave Chicago a 92-85 lead and doing a celebratory dance in the halfcourt circle.
“I just walked over there and as I was coming out of the huddle I said, ‘That’s how you feel?'” Wall recalled to reporters. “And I said, ‘You woke a monster up.'”
The Wizards rallied from an 18-point deficit and Wall stole the show when he hit a game-winning jumper with 5.9 seconds left, giving Washington a 101-99 lead and an eventual win, putting them up a game over .500 for the first time in a whole calendar year.
John Wall sticks the game-winner with 5 seconds left! ????????????
— Wizards Nation (@Wizards__Nation) January 11, 2017
The Raleigh native scored a game-high 26 points to go with 14 assists and six rebounds, netting a plus-24 plus/minus rating after spearheading his team’s comeback.
It’s safe to say that Valentine has kept a lesson learned from this game and what it means to wake up a sleeping monster in the National Basketball Association, where it’s not over until the last whistle blows.
John Wall is making yet another strong case for an All-Star nod, averaging 23.2 points, 10.3 assists, 4.4 rebounds, and 2.2 steals for the season.