John Wall’s third quarter was a tour de force that made something clear: we are watching a master of his craft. In a 114-107 win, Wall steadily and methodically picked apart Atlanta’s defense, including one stretch where he scored or assisted on 19 of the Washington Wizards’ 20 points. It was a full, loaded display that blended excellence with flair and creativity, and it left anyone watching shaking their head.
Washington led most of the game, even though Atlanta never let them pull away. But the Hawks couldn’t find anyone that could bother Wall. He finished with 32 points and 14 assists on 12-of-24 shooting, breaking down Atlanta’s defense repeatedly with a feathery touch. Take this pass, for example.
Blandino’s decision is not an unusual move. Given the complexities of the NFL rulebook, it’s nice when the broadcast networks have people who can actually understand it and translate it for the fans at home who just can’t understand why Dez Bryant didn’t catch the ball even though it sure looked a lot like he did.
That doesn’t change the fact that his departure, which becomes official at the end of May, leaves a big void at a critical juncture in how the league handles officiating and replay. Blandino would have been the one making the calls with the new centralized replay system.
The league will need to find a replacement for a job that will almost certainly make that person the most hated suit in the sport (except for maybe Roger Goodell himself). Several options have already been kicked around, including assistants under Blandino or veteran referees.
Mike Carey has more than two decades of experience as an NFL referee, but he’ll be forever immortalized as CBS’ rules expert who NEVER made the right call on the broadcast.