The Washington Wizards led by as many as 14 points Friday yet fell 115-113 in double overtime to the visiting Brooklyn Nets. Brook Lopez paced the Nets with a game-high 27 points and 13 rebounds, while Deron Williams chipped in 24 points and a team-high 10 assists. Wizards rookie Bradley Beal led Washington in defeat with a season-high 24 points, including a three-pointer which sent the game into its second overtime.
"He (Beal) made two big shots, huge shots, and then went to the line and made a couple free throws," summarized Wizards Head Coach Randy Wittman postgame. "Bradley kept us alive when we should have been dead and we should have never been dead to begin with."
Washington led Brooklyn 30-20 after one quarter, tying their season-high for total points scored in the first period. Nene led the Wizards with 10 of those 30 points, while Beal provided 7. Nene would end up with 20 points overall and would foul out during the first overtime, which would prove to be a critical loss.
Reserve shooting guard Jordan Crawford added 13 of his 23 points off the bench in the second quarter, yet the Williams-led Nets nailed 7 three-pointers on their way to a 32-25 second quarter advantage. At half, Washington led 55-52.
The Wizards couldn't find the same opening success in the third, as former Wizards forward Andray Blatche scored 7 points and secured 6 rebounds for the Nets. He would end up with a 13 points, 12 rebounds double-double against his former squad, including a game-high 4 steals.
"The booing didn't affect me at all because I don't play for them," said Blatche, who faced harsh fan criticism last year as a Wizard due to his inconsistent play and media covered nightlife. "They're supposed to boo me. They're supposed to go against me. This game was no different than the crowd when we went against the Knicks. I was already used to it, so I just basically went out and played." Despite his candor, Blatche was thinking about his seven-year stint with Washington like anyone would. "I was nervous," said Blatche, regarding the double overtime finish. "I definitely didn't want to come here and lose. Our guys, we kept our cool. Had some big shots. Closed it out and got the win."
The Wizards jumped ahead 8 points in the first overtime (OT) period and looked as if they would take the game. Enter Nets reserve guard-forward Keith Bogans, who sank a three-pointer--his first basket of the night--to end Brooklyn's scoring drought. The Nets rallied and it looked as if the Wizards would fall, as Crawford took on the role of point guard in a sloppy and misguided way.
Ahead 101-98 with just over a minute left in the first OT, Coach Wittman gave Crawford the go ahead despite a career night by Garrett Temple, who would end up with a career-best 11 assists on the night (10 within the first four quarters, and the tenth marked by a overtime-forcing hook shot by Nene). Crawford went 0-for-2 in that last minute of the first OT and turned the ball over, resulting in a 104-101 hole with 3.4 seconds left on the clock. Coach Wittman decided to have Crawford inbound the ball rather than shoot on Washington's final possession, and the plan worked out as Beal drilled a three-pointer.
The second OT, however, didn't go well for Washington from the start. Bogans added a quick 5 points on an and-1 finish and a steal induced lay-up follow--Crawford being the target, once again--and Lopez played well defensively as the Wizards scrambled at a frantic pace. Tied 113-all despite it all with 9.1 seconds to play after a pair of free throws secured by Beal, Joe Johnson (18 points) swished an 18-footer. Washington had 0.7 seconds to respond and Crawford missed on a desperation three-point attempt.
"This was a tough one to swallow," said Beal after the game. "I really felt like we had this game. It was anyone's game at the end, but the confidence I have in my teammates I knew we would prevail. We had the game it was just a couple of moments here and there we lacked. That's what ultimately put us in this situation." Beal performed perhaps the best he has performed all season Friday, with his dunk of the night if not season and a few clutch moments which kept the Wizards active.
"We have to take this one in, and continue to get better," continued Beal. "Losing tough ones like this can be tough on a team. We are a strong group and have a really good bond; so we will bounce back."
The Wizards will travel to Miami Sunday to take on the Heat (6:00 p.m. ET, CSN), then host the Oklahoma City Thunder Monday (7:00 p.m. ET, CSN).