Wizards shooting guard Jordan Crawford recorded his seventh-straight 20-point game last night in Indiana and center Nene achieved a 16 points, 13 rebounds double-double. Despite their individual efforts, the Wizards fell short as a team. Washington led by 8 points with four minutes left in the third quarter yet couldn’t get things going in the fourth, as the Pacers battled back in a 93-89 Wizards road loss. The Pacers defense limited John Wall to a season-low 2 assists, just one per a half, while he and Crawford committed 5 turnovers each.
Wall recorded his previous season-low of 3 assists Saturday in a loss to the Atlanta Hawks. With Crawford and Nene able to isolate Wall will lose a few assists here and there during the Nene era, but last night was the case of Indiana knowing the passing lanes better than Washington. Every time Wall or Crawford tried to create a lane there was a Pacer in the way. Once the Wizards find a successful rhythm–kicking the ball to Nene, Nene kicking the ball back out–they should be able to get over their current point differential hump.
Nene, who can score after receiving the ball in the post by taking a dribble, popping a jumper, or swinging around his defender for a look at the rim, has achieved three double-doubles in five games as a Wizard. Over his two active weeks in Washington the Wizards are 1-4, 2-7 overall since the trade. Not a great record but the Wizards have lost their last five games by an average of only 4.6 points, which, considering Nene couldn’t play in a Sunday night loss to the Boston Celtics, bodes well for the young team. Wall has stepped up this season as an exceptional shot blocker, and with Nene inside Washington has an anchor who can move his feet on defense, a trait former Wizards center JaVale McGee couldn’t develop over his three and a half year stay in D.C.
While the offensive flow of the Wizards will continue to sputter at times, defensive integrity is a must and a welcomed path on the road to a rebuild. Washington will try to close the offensive gap tonight at the Verizon Center in their fourth and final season meeting with the Philadelphia 76ers–and the first with Interim Head Coach Randy Wittman at helm. Former Wizards Head Coach Flip Saunders was fired after Washington’s last meeting with the Sixers, who lead the season series 3-0 and represent the fifth Playoffs-bound opponent Washington will have to face over their last seven games (Indiana–twice, Atlanta, Boston, and the Sixers). Can Wittman get it done?
Time: 7:00 p.m ET
TV: Comcast SportsNet/NBALP
Radio: 106.7 The Fan
Wizards: Rashard Lewis, Knee (Out), Andray Blatche, Conditioning (Out)
Sixers: Andre Iguodala, Knee (Probable)
Both Booker and Nene played last night in Indiana. Consider Nene a Fantasy play in deep leagues only, as he’s averaging 14.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, and 1 block as a Wizard. He’s hard to trust, especially with his average block rate (think Brendan Haywood).
For more Wizards insight and live updates from the Verizon Center follow @DCWIZ