The Skinny: With the fourth seed already locked up, the Nets rested four starters and began the game with C.J. Watson, MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries and Andray Blatche starting alongside Gerald Wallace. The Wizards opened the game up on a 7-2 run and quickly sped out to a 19-7 lead after the Nets began the game by shooting just 2-of-5 and turning the ball over three times. Trevor Booker and Cartier Martin grabbed seven combined rebounds in the quarter, and the Wizards played with pace and passion en route to a 34-21 lead after one.
Humphries gave the Nets great energy play to open the second quarter, but the Wizards were able to maintain a comfortable lead. But back-to-back lay-ups from Watson and Brooks closed the deficit to five. John Wall began taking control offensively, which helped Washington go back up double figures. Late turnovers hurt the Wizards, and Blatche hit on an acrobatic lay-up to close out the first half to get the Nets within six.
The Nets’ “starters” kept up the offensive pace, as a three-pointer by Watson closed the gap to three. The pace then turned sloppy on both sides, as both teams committed their fare share of fouls. The Wizards increased their lead back to nine, but an 8-2 Nets run got Brooklyn within four after three.
Chris Singleton and Booker hit two field goals each in the opening minutes of the fourth to keep Washington ahead. But a three from Mirza Teletovic got the Nets within two, and Tyshawn Taylor later a three to cut the lead to one. Toko Shengelia hit on a lay-up with just under five minutes to go to give the Nets their first lead of the game. Back-and-forth lead changes and ties ensued before another three-pointer from Teletovic rattled around the rim before dropping in to put the Nets up three. Martin drained a three to tie the game, but Blatche made a field goal to put the Nets up two. Taylor nailed a huge three to extend the Nets’ lead to five with 22 seconds remaining. Wall missed a three, and that sealed it for the Nets.
High Scorers: Humphries and Blatche led all scorers with 20 points. Blatche had a double-double by adding 11 rebounds. For the Wizards, Wall led the way with 18 points on 5-of-19 from the field and dished out 12 assists for the double-double.
Key Stats: The Nets recorded a season-high 13 steals in this one.
Who Was Hot: Shengelia recorded season-highs in points (11) and rebounds (11) for his first career double-double. Taylor scored a new career-high 14 points. Booker notched a double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Kevin Seraphin added 17 points and seven rebounds for the Wizards.
Who Was Not: It was great to see Wallace back healthy, but he is still struggling to find his offensive game. He finished 1-of-2 for two points in 21:54 and shot 0-of-3 from the charity stripe.
Fun Fact: Reggie Evans is averaging an NBA-best 15.3 rebounds since Feb. 22.
The biggest victory in this one was that no one got hurt. But this one did have an exciting finish, with Toko giving the Nets some great energy play in the fourth quarter.
The starters got a much-needed rest, and Brooklyn did get some good minutes from a few sources – mainly Brooks, Humphries and Teletovic – that could potentially play a role in the postseason.
It was great to hear the crowd really into this game, even without the likes of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and crowd-favorite Reggie Evans playing in this one.
John Wall continues to show what he can do when he’s healthy. If the Wizards add another piece via the draft to team up with Wall and a healthy Bradley Beal, this team could have the makings of a major improvement next season.
Brooklyn (48-33) closes out the regular season Wednesday night at home against the Detroit Pistons. The 8 p.m. game will be televised on the YES Network.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.