The 15-16 Brooklyn Nets took the short ride to Washington D.C. to take on the struggling 5-25 Washington Wizards.
Brooklyn was coming off of a 140-122 defeat at the hands of Milwaukee, a game in which they rested a bunch of players due to load management.
The Wizards, losers of three straight, entered the third of game of their current homestand in search of a much-needed victory.
The Wizards won the contest, 110-104.
Defense was at a premium early in this contest, with both sides trading buckets. Brooklyn’s Nic Claxton dominated the paint early, racking up six early rebounds and drawing a pair of fouls on Washington’s Daniel Gafford.
Kyle Kuzma kept the Wizards offense afloat with a couple stellar finishes, including a drive in which the 6’10” forward adjusted mid-flight to make a tough layup. Kuzma finished the quarter with 9 points.
A mini 6-1 run by Washington had this one tied at 25 entering the quarter number two.
Shooters got hot to begin Q2, with Corey Kispert and Landry Shamet exchanging threes. Deni Avdija had the highlight of the night when he went no-look behind-the-back to Shamet for an easy layup. The Wizards held a slight lead, 39-36, midway through the quarter.
With Daniel Gafford in foul trouble, Mike Muscala stepped up when needed. The stretch big man knocked down a pair of threes, as well as a mid-range jumper, to keep Washington in control. His play kept the team afloat in Gafford’s absence.
Brooklyn took the lead with a 9-0 run, but the Wizards responded. After a Cam Thomas missed layup, Bilal Coulibaly rebounded the ball and sent a pass to Deni Avdija, who drilled the buzzer-beating three-pointer, his third of the half, to give his squad the advantage.
Washington lead 54-53 at the break.
As was an issue through the first 24 minutes, corner threes and offensive rebounds hurt the Wizards. Brooklyn found open shooters and started 3-3 from deep, opening up a nine-point lead. With Daniel Gafford out with four fouls, Day’Ron Sharpe went to work on the offensive glass, creating extra opportunities for his teammates.
Brooklyn took a slim lead into the final frame thanks to a few Kispert buckets, including a deep three off of a terrific inbounds play by Unseld Jr. Washington trimmed the nine-point deficit to just two as the sides entered Q4.
Unlike the third quarter, Washington came out of the gates firing. Mike Muscala popped for an open three and Deni Avdija attacked the hoop, drawing the foul and heading to the free throw line. Unfortunately for Avdija, his struggles at the charity stripe continued, missing a pair of free throws to drop to 0-4 on the night.
For one of the few times this season, Washington’s defense showed up when it mattered. They clamped up on the way to a 7-0, taking a six-point lead with 4:31 remaining.
Kyle Kuzma sank some clutch buckets to close the Nets out, earning the Wizards their sixth win of the season.
After it took this team 26 games to win three contests, they’ve rattled off three wins over their last eight. Signs of life are being shown in D.C.