Wizards aim for 4th straight win as they host Nets

WASHINGTON — The Wizards will go for their fourth straight win when they host the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night.

Washington improved to 5-9 with a 119-95 win over the undermanned Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night. Bradley Beal scored 20 points and Otto Porter added 15 for the Wizards, who never trailed and led by as many as 27 points.

“We did a good job of coming out there very aggressive on the defensive end,” Dwight Howard said. “We got a lot of stops early which allowed us to get a pretty good lead.”

A good sign for Washington is that Howard, who missed the early part of the season, is getting into game shape. He played 20 minutes against Cleveland, grabbing seven rebounds and scoring 10 points, two on a first-quarter alley-oop from John Wall.

“It’s getting better,” Howard said. “The guys, Brad and John and (Markieff Morris) were talking about that tonight, me getting my legs back and what that will mean for everybody.”

Washington is also playing better defense than a few weeks back and their second unit continues to provide offense. The Wizards reserves, led by Austin Rivers (12 points), outscored the Cleveland bench squad 55-36.

The Wizards made 13 of 40 3-point attempts against the Cavaliers and scored 29 points off turnovers.

“We still have a lot of work to do — we still have to get better. We’re still not content with where we are,” Beal said. “We put three (wins) together, but we still have a couple more at home that we have to take care of.”

Washington faces another team dealing with injuries Friday night. The Nets played their first game without leading scorer Caris LeVert (dislocated right foot) Wednesday night and, as expected, things did not go well in a 120-107 home loss to the Miami Heat.

The Nets, also without starting center Jarrett Allen (illness), allowed 37 points in the first quarter and never got closer than seven the rest of the way. Spencer Dinwiddie led six Nets in double figures with 18 points, his 13th double-figure scoring effort in 14 games.

“It’s a big void,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson told Newsday regarding the loss of LeVert. “It’s both ends. He and D’Angelo (Russell) were sharing it so well and they had good chemistry. We’re going to have to look at what fits best with each lineup.

“We started Allen (Crabbe) tonight, but going forward, we have to look. Do we want more ballhandlers in the lineup? Do we want more shooters? The returns tonight weren’t great, so we’re going to have to figure out the lineup.”

Without LeVert, the Nets struggled offensively until a late surge and finished shooting 40.2 percent from the field (41-102) and 28.6 percent from 3-point range (8-28).

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 14 points and nine rebounds for the Nets and Napier finished with 13 points. Ed Davis, making his first start of the season, had nine rebounds.

The Heat shoot 54.1 percent.

“It was everywhere,” Russell said of the breakdown on defense. “They got what they wanted whenever they wanted: Transition, half-court, off turnovers, whatever it was they got it.”