Nets 106, Wizards 101

On a night when the four of the Brooklyn Nets’ five starters

rested, a meaningless April game provided ample opportunity for a

group of players that will be mostly watching from the bench when

the playoffs tip off.

Andray Blatche led a bevy of Brooklyn reserves, whose most

playing time has come in blowout games, with 20 points and 11

rebounds and the Nets erased an early 17-point deficit to beat the

Washington Wizards 106-101 on Monday night.

Before the game, Nets interim head P.J. Carlesimo read off a

sheet that resembled a football injury report. However, he was

proud of the way they managed to fight back.

”They fell in a hole early and they just kept plugging and

plugging,” he said. ”They did a really good job. At times, our

defense was lousy but we also got some big stops in the fourth

quarter. They were working. We had a lot of individuals play hard.

It was really nice to see.”

Carlesimo used the game to gauge how forward Gerald Wallace

would react after missing the last two games due to a heel injury

that was listed as a lower left leg contusion by the teams.

”I thought he really looked good,” Carlesimo said. ”He’s

upset with Timmy (trainer) and I that he didn’t play more, but the

whole point was to get him out and get a little cardio work and

make sure his foot was all right. We were pleased. Hopefully if he

comes out of it well tomorrow, we can play him more on

Wednesday.”

Carlesimo was also pleased with the way Kris Humphries played in

34 minutes and is expecting a significant contribution from him

once the playoffs start. Humphries, who was the team’s original

starting power forward at the beginning of the season before

falling out of the rotation, added 20 points and nine boards for

Brooklyn.

”We’re not going to be successful in the playoffs unless we get

the Kris Humphries that we know,” Carlesimo said. ”It was a big

step for him. The more time we can get him in and the more success

he has, the better it’s going to be.”

Mirza Teletovic added 14 points and MarShon Brooks chipped in 12

for the Nets, who will host Detroit on Wednesday night before they

open up at home in the first round of the Eastern Conference

playoffs.

What appeared as though was going to turn into a lopsided win

for Washington turned into a victory for the Nets, spearheaded in

the second half by the seldom used Brooklyn rookie trio of

Teletovic, Tyshawn Taylor and Toko Shengelia, who was the 54th

overall pick of last year’s NBA draft and was then acquired that

same night from the Philadelphia 76ers.

Shengelia, who has played 67 minutes all season, saw 25 minutes.

After averaging 1.1 points and 0.7 rebounds and 3:42 minutes in 18

games, Shengelia finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Taylor

scored 11 of his 14 in the fourth quarter.

John Wall led Washington with 18 points and 12 assists, while

Trevor Booker added 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Wizards, who

lost for the fifth straight time.

Washington shot 63.2 percent from the field (24 of 38) in the

first half, but the Nets defense held them to just 43.6 percent (17

of 39) in the second half, including 8 of 21 in the third

quarter.

Wizards head coach Randy Whitman was disappointed with the way

his team played in the final quarter and felt like the team had

quit.

”In that fourth quarter, we just came out to play 12 minutes,”

Whitman said. ”We just wanted to get the 12 minutes over with. We

lost our pride in defending, which is really discouraging

considering the way we’ve shown we can defend. … I don’t care if

this is the second to last game or not, you’ve got to have a little

bit of pride to play defense in the fourth quarter to win a game.

Twelve minutes to go, `Let’s just get these 12 minutes over

with.’

”That’s what it looked like to me.”

Brooklyn trailed for pretty much all of the game before finally

taking a 95-94 lead on Shengelia’s layup with 4:57 left in the

fourth. Booker’s hook shot with 4:37 remaining gave the Wizards a

96-95 lead. Shengelia later blocked Wall’s layup attempt. The

Wizards then failed to inbound the ball and Teletovic nailed a

3-pointer to make it 98-96 for the Nets with 3:19 left. Booker then

tipped in a missed jumper by Wall that evened it up, 98-98, but

Teletovic then hit a 3-pointer that gave the Nets a 101-98 lead

with 2:33 left.

After Cartier Martin’s 3-pointer made it 101-101 with 1:43 left,

Blatche’s layup gave Brooklyn the lead for good. Martin tried to

tie it with another 3-pointer but missed and Taylor followed up

with a 3-pointer of his own to make it 106-101 with 22 seconds

left.

Nets starters Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Reggie Evans and Joe

Johnson all played cheerleading roles on the bench and were joined

by Keith Bogans and Jerry Stackhouse.

Brooklyn will play the Chicago Bulls or Atlanta Hawks in the

first round. The Hawks have a half-game lead over the Bulls with

two games remaining. If the Hawks go 1-1 and the Bulls win their

game against Washington on Wednesday night, the Nets will face the

Bulls.

Notes: Brooklyn’s win over the Wizards clinched the season

series (3-1). … The 48 wins for the Nets are their most since

recording 49 during the 2005-06 season.