It's a different looking cast for the Washington Wizards these days, but John Wall remains in the leading role.
Wall will try to continue carrying the depleted Wizards on Monday night when they host the Los Angeles Clippers, who are missing one of their biggest stars in Blake Griffin.
Washington (14-14) remains without Bradley Beal, Nene and Gary Neal, among others, leaving Wall with a new-look group to distribute the ball to. All the point guard has done is average 13.8 assists to go with 19.0 points in the last five games, the final four of which were wins for the Wizards.
After averaging 16.1 points and 7.6 assists in 14 games through November, Wall has posted 22.8 points and 11.8 assists in the same amount of games this month. He has nine December games with at least 20 points and nine assists, something he hadn't done since last season.
"John, again, is just playing at a fabulous clip right now," coach Randy Wittman said. "His leadership on the floor, in the huddles, in the locker room, orchestrating things on the floor, that's a thing of beauty."
Wall assisted on five of Marcin Gortat's 10 field goals as the center had 25 points in Saturday's 111-96 win at Brooklyn. Wall finished with 22 points and 13 assists while rookie Jarell Eddie made four 3-pointers in the fourth quarter for 12 points in his NBA debut.
The Wizards have averaged an NBA-best 27.4 assists in eight contests since Dec. 11.
"If you're a shoot-first point guard, it's going to be tough. I'm a pass-first guy," Wall said. "These guys tell me to be aggressive I'll be aggressive, but at the same time I'm looking for these guys. I know I'm going to need these guys even more with a lot of guys injured."
Even without its leading scorer (Beal) during the win streak and with its top bench scorer (Neal) missing two of the four games, Washington has averaged 108.3 points on 49.1 percent shooting. The Wizards have made 48.7 percent of their 3-pointers in the last three, finishing with at least 11 in each.
Long-distance shooting is what lifted Los Angeles (18-13) to a win in its first test without its leading scorer Griffin, who will miss at least two weeks while healing from a partially torn quadriceps tendon. The Clippers matched a season high with 13 made 3-pointers on 26 attempts in Saturday's 109-104 victory at Utah, their second straight win on the heels of three straight losses.
J.J. Redick and Paul Pierce each made 5 of 7 from deep, all but one coming after halftime. The pair led the Clippers with 25 and 20 points, respectively, as Los Angeles made at least 10 3-pointers for the fifth time in six games.
Not only will the Clippers be without Griffin's 23.2 points per game, but they will have to find a way to make up for his 8.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists. Los Angeles finished with 24 assists on 38 made baskets against the Jazz but was outrebounded 36-34.
"It's going to take a number of guys to fill his role," Pierce said. "He's an All-Star. He's an MVP candidate, so it's going to have to come from a number of guys."
The Clippers have won 11 of the last 13 meetings in this series but lost last season's visit to Washington. They are 8-7 away from home this season, winning their last two, while the Wizards are 7-7 at Verizon Center but have won three in a row there.