By Dave Johnson
The Washington Wizards missed out on their goal of the playoffs, but they head into the off-season with confidence form an impressive resume of quality wins. Our countdown of top 10 Wizards games from 2012/2013 continues today with number 8.
The list so far:
9------Wizards beat Miami 105-101
Number 8 on our list is from February 8 when the Wizards beat the Brooklyn Nets at home 89-74. The win wrapped up a three-game homestand that also included wins over the Clippers and Knicks. The memorable week was an example of the Wizards' resilience. The win over the Nets and the successful homestand was the team’s response to a four-game losing streak that started at the end of January.
My game story from that night:
The good feeling the Wizards had after scoring 60 points in the second half of a loss in San Antonio carried over into a memorable week at home. The Wizards capped off the week with another impressive defensive performance in Friday’s 89-74 win over the Brooklyn Nets.
The Wizards have now won eight of their last nine games at Verizon Center and swept this past week’s three-game homestand with wins over the Clippers, Knicks and Nets.
“We talked about coming out and establishing defense right from the start. That’s got to be our identity as a team. That never waivers. Our guys are believing in that. That’s kind of been our staple. It’s been consistent for us all year. I thought coming out tonight and digging in again like we did, from a defensive standpoint, set up the whole game for us. We won that game defensively.”
“We don’t have the same team as last year, but last year we did a great job being a defensive team. That’s one thing Coach [Wittman] prides us on is the defensive end because we can score in various ways and get out in the open court.”
A game after holding the Knicks to 40 percent shooting from the field, the Wizards held the Nets 32 percent shooting from the field. After the Wizards had a 21-20 lead at the end of the first quarter, the Nets missed their first twelve shots of the second quarter to help the Wizards build a 21-point lead.
The turning point of the game came in the second quarter when the Wizards went on a 14-1 run fueled in part by Nets’ turnovers. By half time the Wizards had scored 10 points off 10 Nets’ turnovers. The Wizards finished the game with 11 steals. John Wall had 4 steals and Martell Webster had 3 steals.
The Wizards were able to establish an inside presence with Nene who had 20 points and 11 rebounds Nene was 9 of 13 shooting from the field and three of his missed shots were from the inside the restrictive arc. On defense Nene was part of a defensive effort that held All-Star Brook Lopez to 13 points on 3 of 11 shooting from the field.
“Nene’s smart. Nene’s been in the league 10 years. Nene knows little tricks of the trade. He’s sly. He gives angles. He takes angles away. He’s a student of the game. That’s a great quality that I think a lot of our young bigs are learning. It’s a trait that he can pass down to a lot of these guys.”
The Wizards are also showing the ability to take a punch. Against the Knicks the Wizards did not fold after being put on their heels by an 11-0 Knicks’ run in the third quarter and they still prevailed after the Nets went on a 14-0 run in the third quarter.
Now the trick will be to carry over this past week to road games against Milwaukee and Detroit before the All-Star Break.