Wizards hope to avenge recent loss to Nets
NEW YORK — Ten days ago, John Wall was on the verge of returning from a left knee injury when the Washington Wizards visited the Brooklyn Nets and ultimately lost.
This time, Wall will be playing Friday night when the Wizards visit the Nets.
Washington (17-14) went 4-5 while Wall sat out from Nov. 25-Dec. 12 and Bradley Beal was their primary scorer. Beal averaged 23.8 points in Wall’s absence when the Wizards lost four games decided by five points or fewer.
One of those was a 103-99 loss at Brooklyn on Dec. 12 when the Wizards fell behind by 14, shot 40 percent and made 4 of 22 from 3-point range. Beal scored 28 points on 11 of 33 shots and was 3 of 15 in the second half.
Wall averaged 19.5 points, 8.5 assists, and 3.8 rebounds while shooting 46.3 percent in 10 games before the injury. Since returning, Wall is averaging 15.3 points, 6.3 assists, 5.8 rebounds on 35.4 percent from the field (23 of 65).
Wall enjoyed his best game since returning on Tuesday when he totaled 18 points and 10 assists in a 116-106 win over the New Orleans Pelicans. Wall helped the Wizards get off to a terrific start by accounting for 14 points and six assists in a 36-point opening quarter.
“He’s the engine. We go when he’s aggressive,” Washington coach Scott Brooks said. “I tell our guys all the time we’re one of the best teams in the league when we get a defensive stop and run. That’s what happened tonight — twice.”
Wall posted his seventh double-double of the season and the Wizards are 3-4 in those games.
“Basically, them telling me to go out there and be aggressive and don’t worry about minutes and go play,” Wall said. “Coach has been telling me since the last game. I went out there without thinking about when I was coming out of the game or when I’m going back in, just trying to play and make the right reads.”
Beal scored 26 points and remained in the game despite spraining an ankle. After getting examined Wednesday, Beal is expected to play Wednesday.
The Wizards played without Otto Porter Jr. (bruised right thigh) for the second straight game and he is listed as questionable. Kelly Oubre Jr. started the last two games for Porter and scored 21 points while playing about 29 minutes per game.
Mike Scott saw increased minutes as well and followed up a 19-point outing against Cleveland on Sunday with a 24-point showing on 11 of 15 shooting Tuesday. He is averaging 17.5 points per game in his last six contests.
When Allen Crabbe hit the game-winning 3-pointer with 44 seconds left 10 days ago, the Nets won for the fifth time in eight games. Since winning the first meeting with Washington, the Nets have regressed on both ends during their second four-game losing streak of the season.
Brooklyn is averaging 96.8 points on 41.8 percent shooting and 32.9 percent from 3-point range. The Nets are allowing 111 points while allowing 51.7 percent from the field and 37.6 percent from 3-point range.
The Nets have fallen behind by double-digits in each game and during this streak, they are getting outscored 244-190 in the first half and 126-95 in the opening quarters.
Brooklyn’s losing streak continued with a poor start in a 104-99 loss to the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday. The Nets allowed 64 points in the first half, fell behind by 21 points and saw a comeback attempt fall short.
Spencer Dinwiddie led the Nets with 16 points but shot 6 of 16 and is 10 of 31 (32.2 percent) from the field in his last three games. Crabbe was held to 10 and is shooting 12 of 45 (26.6 percent) from 3-point range in his last five games.
“I don’t think it’s impacting us at all,” Crabbe said. “A couple of plays here and there and we could be on the winning side. We’re all staying encouraged. … We still believe that we have time to turn things around.”
Other than Crabbe and DeMarre Carroll missing last Friday’s loss in Toronto, the Nets have used the same starting lineup of Tyler Zeller, Spencer Dinwiddie, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Crabbe and Carroll in six of the last seven games. They are 3-6 this season with that starting five but following another slow start, coach Kenny Atkinson hinted at a change.
“I think four losses in a row, we have to look at everything,” Atkinson said. “We have to look at the start, what our lineup looks like to start. I definitely think we have to look at it. We have to analyze it and see if there is something to change up.”
The Wizards had a seven-game winning streak snapped in the series in their last visit to Brooklyn. Washington is 12-3 in the last 15 meetings.