The more players the Washington Wizards lose, the better John Wall has been.
Wall had 22 points and 13 assists, Marcin Gortat scored 25 points, and the Wizards beat the Brooklyn Nets 111-96 on Saturday for their fourth straight victory.
Rookie Jarell Eddie made four three-pointers and scored 12 points in the fourth quarter of his NBA debut, helping the Wizards blow open what was a two-point game after three. Washington (14-14), despite a number of injuries, is back at .500 for the first time since it was 6-6 a month ago.
With star guard Bradley Beal and key players such as Nene and Gary Neal sidelined, Wall has elevated his game after saying he played poorly for the first one-and-a-half months. He has nine games this month with at least 20 points and 10 assists.
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“John, again, is just playing at a fabulous clip right now,” Wizards Coach Randy Wittman said. “His leadership on the floor, in the huddles, in the locker room, orchestrating things on the floor, that’s a thing of beauty.”
Brook Lopez had 19 points and 11 rebounds for the Nets, who lost their sixth straight home game and won just three of their 10 at home this month. Thaddeus Young finished with 16 points and 14 boards.
His leadership on the floor, in the huddles, in the locker room, orchestrating things on the floor, that’s a thing of beauty.
Wizards Coach Randy Wittman on John Wall
“It takes a lot of effort to win in this business. It’s not easy,” Nets Coach Lionel Hollins said. “You can’t play when you want to play. You’ve got to play every night, every minute.”
Wall burst past the slower Nets throughout the game and set up easy opportunities for a Wizards team that shot 50 percent from the field. He said playing without some usual teammates hasn’t hindered him.
“If you’re a shoot-first point guard, it’s going to be tough. I’m a pass-first guy,” he said. “These guys tell me to be aggressive I'll be aggressive, but at the same time I’m looking for these guys. I know I’m going to need these guys even more with a lot of guys injured.”
The Wizards led by 12 in the first half before the Nets rallied to take the lead in the third. Washington went back ahead and was up 79-77 going to the fourth.
Eddie, just signed Wednesday, then went 4-for-4 behind the arc as Washington outscored Brooklyn 23-7 to open the final period. Wall finished off a 13-0 burst with a layup that made it 102-84.
The Nets committed nine turnovers in the fourth quarter and lost for the seventh time in eight games overall.
“They hit a few big threes. I don’t think we did a good job of adjusting to what they were doing. It kind of just fell apart from there. They got hot and kept going,” Lopez said.
Wizards: Otto Porter returned from a bruised left thigh that sidelined the forward for the previous three games. He had seven points in 19 minutes. … Eddie appeared in 11 games with Austin of the NBA Development League before joining the Wizards on Wednesday and didn’t play in their victory over Memphis that night.
Nets: It was the Nets’ last home game of the year. They have a three-game road trip next week and aren’t back in Brooklyn until Jan. 4 for the second half of a back-to-back against Boston. … Lopez made nine field goals and passed Vince Carter (3,126) for second in franchise history. Lopez has 3,127. Buck Williams had 3,981.
Eddie was forced to wear a bright red Christmas suit and tie, featuring pictures of snowmen and Christmas trees, to the game by veterans Gortat and Nene. He slipped it back into his bag after the game, though it wasn’t because he thought his big debut got him off the hook. “That’s the not the case at all,” he said. “I just figure I already paid my dues with my suit.”
SEE YOU IN THE SPRING
The teams don’t play again until April, when they have two meetings in six nights. They play April 6 in Washington and April 11 here.