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