Over the last 7:36 Friday night, the Nets might have played their most cohesive and passionate defense of the season, holding Washington to a single field goal and giving the Wiz nothing close to resembling an unobstructed view of the basket. That is essentially what happens when Brook Lopez decides that every inch of defensive territory – from the floor to the rim to the first row of seats, where he paid one visit after one of his four blocks – belongs to him. But with four-tenths of a second left, they gave the smallest man on the floor the most daylight anyone saw in such a defensive struggle, and they paid the price.
"It was a high screen off Antawn (Jamison)" Boykins explained. "They had switched on the previous possession, so I knew they were going to switch again. "The main thing was to take the last shot. I didn’t want to go too early to allow them to go down and have a good shot." The Wizards did shut the door on defense. The Nets were only able to get the ball into Jarvis Hayes on the sideline, but he was double-teamed when he took an off-balance fade-away from 23-feet that fell short.
After his game-winning basket, Nick Young ran to hug Boykins and Andray Blatche shoved him as Boykins giggled. That trio was responsible for helping the Wizards (15-30) avoid what would've been another deflating loss in a miserable season. The Wizards got 43 points from the bench, with Blatche scoring 14 and Young adding 10. Jamison had just nine points and appeared to aggravate his right shoulder injury in the third period as he came up grimacing after a collision. He immediately went to the bench, where head athletic trainer Eric Waters worked with him for a while. He returned the game, hitting a difficult hook shot to bring the Wizards with 77-76.
As far as victories go, a win is a win, but last night's performance by either team felt more "ickory" than victorious. In the first quarter, the Wizards committed 7 turnovers which helped the Nets finish the opening 12 minutes with a 26-18 advantage. No Wizard could stop Nets guard Courtney Lee, who scored 14 of New Jersey's 26 points in the quarter, and by no one, the names Mike Miller and DeShawn Stevenson come to mind.
For the first time in team history, the Wizards won without having a starter in double figures. "I don’t think they’re going to send that tape to Springfield," Washington Coach Flip Saunders said.
Andray Blatche’s energy level was evident from the moment he entered the court and his bench mates followed suit. Blatche played with a physicality that he displays from time to time, but has never been able to consistently produce. In the second quarter he grabbed five rebounds and chipped in with eight points. Instead of settling for jumpers Blatche attacked the basket, whether it was making cuts without the ball or just going after offensive boards (3 in the quarter). At 6’11’’ Blatche has a tendency to fall in love with the jump shot. While he does have the range to knock down shots from beyond 20 feet he’s better served at being aggressive and going to the basket.
Nick Young also returned to the lineup after being put on the inactive list against his hometown Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday. It was the second time this season - and in his career - that he was put on the inactive list. The first time, Young bounced back from his benching in San Antonio with 20 points against Philadelphia. On Friday, Young had 10 points, with eight coming in the first half. "I don't want to be on that inactive list," Young said. "When it happens, it kind of motivates you to see that you got to step it up. That's what it did for me."
Foye has averaged 15.5 points and 4.7 assists as a starter. In his last five games, his average is up to 18.6 points. He has also become the NBA’s second-best free-throw shooter (.933). And four years into his career, he has arguably the best mentor of his life, Wizards assistant Sam Cassell. "If you watch me coming off the pick and roll shooting the ball, you can see Sam’s influence. I’m getting much better at that," Foye said after his pregame workout with Cassell, which included roughly 200 shots. "This is a great opportunity for me, even after everything that has happened to the team. And it’s always good when a team relies on your contribution."
Here was a night where the Nets rebounding woes really came home to roost. Washington had a 40-32 advantage on the glass, including 15 offensive rebounds. Considering the Nets outshot the Wizards (45.5 percent to 42.1 percent), and had less turnovers (19-16) and you could say the game was lost on the glass.