It wouldn’t be Washington Wizards basketball if the game didn’t come down to a few possessions in crunch time. John Wall was terrific tonight on both ends of the floor and he was too much to handle for the aging Brooklyn Nets. Here are the Bullet Points:
- Nene returned to the Wizards lineup tonight after being sidelined with an achilles injury for 4 games. Randy Wittman decided to play Nene off the bench and it definitely helped out the reserves. Nene finished the game with 17 points in just 23 minutes of action, but more importantly, he knocked down some crucial shots in the fourth quarter. Kevin Garnett is a shell of himself and Nene took advantage early on. The offense is much better with Nene on the floor since he’s great at creating for himself, but he’s also done a great job finding his teammates. Instead of constantly pressuring John Wall, the Nets had to focus on Nene and it helped Washington’s offense when they needed it most. I wouldn’t be surprised if Wittman decides to continue playing Nene off the bench since he’s still on a minutes limit, and I honestly wouldn’t have a problem with it.
- Brooklyn is one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA and Trevor Booker apparently took notice. He grabbed 13 total rebounds, 9 of which were on the offensive glass. The Nets shot nearly 53% from the field as opposed to the Wizards 43%, so extra possessions definitely played a huge role in Washington’s victory. Booker is in the final year of his contract and if he continues playing like he has lately, he’ll certainly be back in a Wizards uniform next season. He hasn’t played this well since his rookie season and he’s done a great job playing within himself. Kevin Seraphin backed up Booker’s performance with 10 points and 5 rebounds off the bench, so that was a pleasant surprise.
- Paul Pierce lit the Wizards up for a season high 27 points off the bench. He made 10 of his 12 shot attempts. Trevor Ariza played fairly decent defense against Pierce but it just seemed to be one of those nights for the former Celtic. Ariza sported a +/- of +12 tonight, so he must’ve been doing something well. Ariza occasionally dribbles the ball way too much and he had a few of those sequences tonight. I joked about the coaching staff limiting Ariza to just two dribbles per game, but nothing good ever happens when he decides to take off on his own.
- John Wall scored 21 points tonight, while Bradley Beal chipped in 15 points in limited action. They each made 3 of their 4 shots from beyond the 3-point arc, so it’s nice to see Wall effectively spread the floor instead of settling for deep two point shots. Wall burned the Nets in transition multiple times, and once he started getting to the basket, shot opportunities opened up for his teammates. Bradley Beal hit a crucial three in the fourth quarter which put the Wizards up by 6. Beal has hit some clutch shots in the past, but perhaps the most important crunch time play came from John Wall, who blocked Deron Williams with just seconds remaining in the game.
It’s a great win for the Wizards, but they can’t get too comfortable. They’ve certainly had their troubles closing games this season, so beating a talented team like the Nets down the stretch is definitely a positive step forward. Although Brooklyn has been better as of late, the Wizards had all the tools to beat their aging squad. They’ll have to carry the momentum over on Saturday night against the Boston Celtics on the road.
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