The Washington Wizards pulled away from the Nets down the stretch and they won 99-90 on Saturday night at Barclays Center to take the second part of the home-and-home. The Nets won the first half 102-80 on Friday night.
The Nets have now lost seven of nine games and hit the halfway point of the season at 17-24, clinging to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins, in the postgame, of the first half of the season, “Well, in the first 41, we didn’t win enough games. In the second 41, I hope to win a lot more.”
The Nets led this one 26-23 after the first quarter and 51-50 at halftime. They jumped out to a seven-point lead, 61-54, early in the third quarter on a Mason Plumlee dunk with 8:58 left in the frame. The Wizards responded with a 12-2 run to take a 66-63 lead on a Nene dunk with 3:28 left. The Wizards opened up a nine-point lead, 74-65, on a John Wall layup with 1:11 left. An Alan Anderson three and a Jarrett Jack jumper brought the Nets back to within four, but a Rasual Butler three at the buzzer gave Washington a 77-70 lead entering the fourth.
The Nets opened the fourth on an 11-4 run, with six points from Jack in the stretch, to tie the game at 81 with 8:28 left. The Wizards responded with an 8-2 run capped by a Kris Humphries dunk to make it 89-83 Washington with 6:06 left.
Joe Johnson responded with a turnaround jumper with 5:42 left to make it 89-85 Washington. Johnson and Teletovic missed on the Nets’ next two possessions, and the possession after that resulted in Brook Lopez (yes, you read that right) taking a three from the corner that barely grazed the rim.
Johnson then committed a turnover on the next possession, and Johnson made up for it with jumper to made it 90-87 Wizards with 3:55 left. On the Wizards’ ensuing possession, Nene had it under the hoop with three Nets on him, and he got Mason Plumlee to leap in the air. Nene drew the contact, and when Plumlee bounced off him after the foul was called, he laid in the easy layup, and made the free throw to complete the three-point play and make it 93-87 Washington.
On the next Nets possession, Alan Anderson was fouled by Nene behind the three-point line with 3:17 left. Anderson went to the line and missed the first one, hit the second, and missed the third free throw. He plays the fourth quarter routinely and I can’t figure out why. He is not an especially good scorer, an average defender, and not a clutch player, as exhibited by him missing two of three free throws that would have pulled the Nets to within three points of Washington. Bojan Bogdanovic or Sergey Karasev, basically whoever is starting at the small forward position, should play from the sixth minute on in the fourth quarter, as nearly all starters do in the NBA.
A little while later, another play would hurt the Nets’ chances of winning this game. Mason Plumlee was about to catch one for an alley-oop, and before he could get to the rim, he was hip-checked by Nene, and it was surprisingly not called for a foul. Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins gave it to the refs as the play went to the other end in front of the Nets’ bench.
Nene hit a long jumper with 1:13 left to make it 95-88 and that basically sealed the win for Washington. This was a fitting end to a game in which he had 20 points (8-12 FG), 6 rebounds, and 2 assists.
Hollins said of the non-call on Plumlee and the game, “All calls are important through the course of the game, but that one call didn’t lose us the game. I thought we played courageously and we battled and, eventually, we went to empty. We had to play Jarrett (Jack) 40 minutes and we played Joe (Johnson) 40 minutes. When I look at the difference in the game, they had 21 second-chance points, we had 11. They has 11 fastbreak points, and we had four. Our bench had 26 points to their bench’s 34 points, but they shot 15-for-23 off the bench and we shot 9-for-29. They deserved to win. 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.”
On what made the Nets slow down in the fourth quarter, Hollins said, “We didn’t make the shots, for sure. We were just tired. Jarrett played a lot of minutes and we were still trying to come off the pick-and-roll, and then you have John Wall hawking you. It’s tough because they did a good job. They did a decent job on Brook (Lopez) by taking away some of his opportunities. He still scored 15 points, but his shooting percentage was lower because they did a much better job. They just played a better game tonight. We played a better game last night and, unfortunately for us, they had a lot more energy.”
Hollins said of playing teams on consecutive nights, “I hate to do it in the regular season, but it is what it is.”
Jarrett Jack, who had 22 points on 10-for-18 form the field (0-2 on threes), 8 assists, and 4 rebounds in 40 minutes, said of Washington shutting them down tonight, “They did a good job on the pick-and-roll coverage. And they’re definitely very, very vocal. They changed up some things from yesterday. They did a good job of limiting us to one shot per possession. They did a good job.”
Joe Johnson, who had 15 points (6-17 FG, 1-4 on threes), 5 assists, and 3 rebounds, said of the difference in Washington from Friday to Saturday nights, “Well, tonight, obviously, they came here looking more desperate. You know, we went into Washington last night and got a win, so we knew they were going to give their best shot today; but we played great, you know, I think just down the stretch we couldn’t get stops. We couldn’t make the shots. I thought we fought hard, but just came up a little short.”