NEW YORK — Asked to describe what he thought of frontcourt partner Nene, Washington Wizards center Marcin Gortat did not hesitate for an assessment.
“The guy’s a beast, an offensive beast,” Gortat said. “He’s banged up right now, but if he’s playing the game and if he’s playing the game the right way, if he’s not settling for jump shots, if he’s attacking the glass, you just can’t stop him.
“He’s just too big, too powerful. His hands are so big that he can literally wrap you around right now. He’s a monster and he’s skilled, too, so he’s a very good player.”
Nene matched Gortat’s description by scoring 20 points in 28 minutes, including two clutch baskets in the final four minutes of the fourth quarter as the Wizards reached the halfway mark of the season with a 99-90 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
Nene had his fourth game with at least 20 points and rebounded from being held to six points in Friday’s 22-point home loss to Brooklyn. He was an efficient 8 of 12 from the floor and his final two baskets helped the Wizards turn back any threat.
Brooklyn was within 90-87 after forward Joe Johnson’s 18-footer from the right side with 3:55 remaining. On the next trip, Nene converted a layup through traffic and subsequent free throw for a 93-88 lead.
With a little over a minute left, Nene put the final touches on Washington’s 28th win. After a missed 19-footer by Nets guard Jarrett Jack, Nene hit a 15-foot baseline jumper from in front of the Brooklyn bench for a 95-88 lead with 1:13 remaining.
While Nene’s showing played a key role in Washington’s latest win, so did the fact that five other players reached double figures.
Guard Bradley Beal nearly had a triple-double with 17, nine rebounds and eight assists, and reserve forwards Kris Humphries and Kevin Seraphin added 13 and 12 points, respectively. Point guard John Wall had 11 points and Gortat collected 10 points and 16 rebounds for his 13th double-double.
“That’s what makes our team great,” Gortat said. “We have John, who is one of the best, and Bradley, a rising star in this league. So everybody’s focused on them, but we can’t forget that we have two good veterans playing under the basket. We have a complete team right now.”
Washington coach Randy Wittman said, “I thought our guys were focused from the start tonight. Five guys in double figures, that’s kind of what this team is.”
While the Wizards reached the halfway pint 15 games above .500, the Nets reached it seven games below (17-24) and lost for the seventh time in eight games. They had a 63-56 lead with 7:43 remaining but were outscored 33-27 the rest of the way while shooting 32 percent from the field (10 of 31) during that span.
“Obviously not what we expected at this point, but we just need to get better,” Johnson said.
Jack had his second straight 20-point night, leading Brooklyn with 16 of his 22 after halftime. Johnson and reserve center Brook Lopez added 15 apiece but were a combined 11 of 30 from the field as the Nets dropped their sixth straight home game.
“They deserved to win,” Brooklyn coach Lionel Hollins said. “They picked up the intensity a little bit defensively and they changed their coverages. So we didn’t have all the opportunities that we had last night.
“When you’re tired, you tend to struggle to execute because you are tired and don’t want to make that effort to get to the next option. That’s just the way it is.”
NOTES: F Paul Pierce made his return to Brooklyn after the Nets decided not to re-sign him in July. Pierce signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the Wizards. Retaining him would have added $20 million to Brooklyn’s luxury tax bill after it had spent a league-record $197 million in payroll in luxury taxes last season. Washington coach Randy Wittman said of Pierce, who scored seven points in 25 minutes, “Leadership, also what he can still do on the floor, coming down the stretch of big games, not afraid to take big shots, wants big shots, makes plays for other people. He’s been tremendous.” … Although this was the second night of a back-to-back, Brooklyn F Kevin Garnett was in the starting lineup. Because of his ejection Monday and subsequent suspension, Garnett had been on the court for about 22 1/2 minutes this week before Saturday. … G Bojan Bogdanovic started his fifth straight game. Asked about the rookie’s showing in Friday’s game at Washington, coach Lionel Hollins said, “I thought last night he was a lot more aggressive. We need him to do that for our group to be successful.”
Main Page2 weeks ago
NBA Draft 2022: Which Teams Can Improve the Most on NBA Draft Day?
Main Page2 weeks ago
NBA Mock Draft 2022: Projecting Round 1 of the 2022 NBA Draft
Main Page2 weeks ago
2022 NBA Finals Game 6 Picks, Predictions, Best Bets, Odds and Injuries
Main Page1 week ago
NBA Draft 2022: Date, Time, Location and How to Watch