John Wall fin­ishes with 30 points as Wizards take care of Nets at home.

WIZARDS 102, NETS 88 Guard scores 30 points to stop two-game skid

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY RO­MAN STUBBS ro­[email protected]­post.com

John Wall emerged from the Wash­ing­ton Wizards’ locker room in his socks af­ter half­time Satur­day night, walk­ing shoe­less onto the Cap­i­tal One Arena court just a few min­utes be­fore his team re­sumed play against the Brook­lyn Nets.

He had played per­haps his best ball of the week in a pair of lime-green Adi­das sneak­ers in the first half, but Wall was look­ing to el­e­vate his game in the sec­ond. His heels were sore, so he switched to a new pair of redand-white shoes, de­ter­mined to pull his team out of its slump af­ter con­sec­u­tive blowout losses on the road ear­lier in the week.

With his team cling­ing to a three-point lead against the medi­ocre Nets, it didn’t mat­ter what kicks Wall was wear­ing. He helped ig­nite an 11-0 run to start the third quar­ter, cap­ping it with an open three-pointer to spark a 102-88 win.

“Not my shoe change . . . . I had to take them off,” Wall said. “Guys played well, played with a lot of en­ergy.”

Wall fin­ished with 30 points on 12-for-24 shoot­ing to go with nine as­sists and five re­bounds as the Wizards snapped a two-game skid. Wash­ing­ton (9-14) looked en­er­gized just a night af­ter los­ing by 25 at Philadel­phia and three nights af­ter it was blown out by 21 in New Or­leans. It will play five of its next six on the road, a trip that may have been all the more dif­fi­cult had Wash­ing­ton not picked up trac­tion with a win at home against the strug­gling Nets (8-16). This vic­tory started with both Wall’s ag­gres­sive­ness in the first quar­ter and a col­lec­tive de­fen­sive ef­fort that forced Brook­lyn to shoot just 30 for 81 from the field (37.0 per­cent) and com­mit 17 turnovers.

“I thought the ball was con­tained. Our pick-and-roll cov­er­age was good. We were inside, and we were clos­ing down some of their shoot­ers. We got good ef­fort from our guys,” Wash­ing­ton Coach Scott Brooks said.

That burst to be­gin the sec­ond half rep­re­sented hall­marks that have been ab­sent so of­ten dur­ing what has been a try­ing early stretch of the season for the Wizards. It fea­tured scor­ing from all five starters, be­gin­ning with a run­ner from Otto Porter Jr., who missed Fri­day night’s game to at­tend to a fam­ily mat­ter. He re­turned to the start­ing lineup Satur­day, and al­though he fin­ished with just seven points, his pres­ence af­fected the game on both ends as he fin­ished with 11 re­bounds and three steals.

That run was bol­stered by dunks from Thomas Bryant, the young cen­ter who is fill­ing in for the in­jured Dwight Howard, and To­mas Sa­toran­sky, who got a start and fin­ished with seven points in 26 min­utes.

Wall scored 14 points in the first half, hav­ing his way with Brook­lyn’s young guards, while back­court mate Bradley Beal set­tled into a groove af­ter a slow start and fin­ished with 22 points.

“Our com­mu­ni­ca­tion was a lot bet­ter. It was prob­a­bly the best we’ve had all year. I think our big­gest rea­son for win­ning the game was our de­fense,” Beal said.

Wash­ing­ton al­lowed just 39 points in the first half, the fewest it has sur­ren­dered in a half all season, but led by just three as it walked to the locker room. That mar­gin could’ve been much wider con­sid­er­ing the Wizards led by 12 at one point in the sec­ond quar­ter and held Brook­lyn to 33.3 per­cent shoot­ing in the half. Wash­ing­ton also outscored Brook­lyn 24-16 in the paint over the first two quar­ters, yet there were stretches when Howard’s ab­sence con­tin­ued to be ev­i­dent.

Wash­ing­ton was also buoyed by its bench Satur­day, even as for­ward Jeff Green missed an­other game with lower-back spasms. Austin Rivers opened the fourth quar­ter with a three­p­ointer, and Marki­eff Mor­ris came up with a steal in the open floor and dished to Beal for a dunk. Rivers fed Mor­ris in the post on the next play to push the Wizards’ lead to 13. Mor­ris (20 points) had 15 points in the fourth quar­ter alone.

Wash­ing­ton then found it­self in position to do some­thing it has had few chances to do this season: close out a big lead in the fourth quar­ter. It fol­lowed through, us­ing a small-ball lineup to hit 14 of its fi­nal 19 shots. It was an en­cour­ag­ing shoot­ing per­for­mance with an­other long road trip loom­ing.

“I be­lieve in them. I know it’s go­ing to come. I keep say­ing it. It hasn’t hap­pened. Hope­fully it hap­pens soon,” Brooks said. “It would be nice for us to start on the road. We need to start play­ing bet­ter on the road. Mak­ing shots would help.”

KATHER­INE FREY/THE WASH­ING­TON POST

“Guys played well, played with a lot of en­ergy,” said John Wall, who also con­trib­uted nine as­sists.

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