Nets vs. Wizards Recap: Brooklyn Hangs On For Thriller Victory In Washington

Coming off a frustrating loss at the start of the road trip in Cleveland, the Brooklyn Nets traveled to the nation’s capital to take on the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night. After conceding an early 3–2 deficit, the Nets quickly took back the lead and never looked back. Thanks to a smooth running offense and sound defense, Brooklyn was able to take control of the game. Though poor turnovers and some questionable play in the fourth quarter let the Wizards creep back into the game, the Nets still took care of business to get the win.

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The first quarter saw an aggressive, fast start from the Brooklyn offense. They shot a scorching 61 percent from the field to start. Nets superstar Kyrie Irving led the charge, scoring 12 early points. Complimenting Irving’s scoring output would be center LaMarcus Aldridge, hitting shots from his sweet spot in the mid-range. Aldridge shot perfectly and added 10 points. The Nets defense forced some poor shots out of the Wizards, causing them to shoot 41 percent from the field and 14 percent from three. The Nets led 33–28 after one.

The second quarter was just a pure offensive showing for both teams. The Nets continued their hot shooting at 64 percent from the field. Irving continued his offensive masterclass adding another 10 points in entertaining fashion. Aldridge continued his hot shooting as well and contributed nine more. Nets fellow superstar James Harden arrived to the party and contributed 10 points and facilitated to four assists. The Wizards picked up their shooting as well, shooting 50 percent from the field, 57 percent from three. Nonetheless, the Nets still built upon their lead. Also, Brooklyn scored the most points in a half this season, with the score being 74–62 at halftime.

The game slowed down a little bit in the third, with both teams shooting cold. Brooklyn was only able to muster 23 points in the quarter and shot 40 percent from the field and 18 percent from three. However, it was rookie Day’ron Sharpe who played well for the Nets. Becoming an even better screen-and-roller as he continues to play, he was able to perfectly find his way to the hoop to a quick eight points. Human sparkplug Patty Mills also contributed with timely threes to stave off any comeback attempts by Washington.

The fourth quarter is when it became dramatic. The Wizards slowly crept their way back into the game, especially with their hot shooting at 52 percent. Officiating was questionable going both ways, as the referees missed an obvious interference after Nets assistant David Vanterpool errantly touched the ball that remained inbounds for Kessler Edwards to grab. James Harden would get hacked and headbutted, but with no calls.

Regardless, the Nets rallied and responded with a 7–0 run to build their lead thanks to great plays and a timely three from Edwards. Washington would not be put away as forward Kyle Kuzma hit a huge three pointer to bring the Nets lead to just one. After multiple offensive possessions that led to Nets misses, the Wizards had chances to win the game. Desperation shots from Kuzma and former Net Spencer Dinwiddie clanked off the rim. The Nets held on for the 119–118 victory.

Kyrie Irving, the Masterpiece

In only his fifth game back, Kyrie Irving was phenomenal. Thanks to a scorching first half, Irving put up 30 points, with seven assists to go along with it. Having Irving back on the court for Brooklyn has been a boon, especially with fellow superstar Kevin Durant out rehabbing an MCL sprain. Irving adds another element with his masterful play. His elite ball handling and ability to drive into the paint to draw defenders, or score with his huge layup package is a boost to the Nets offense. Multiple times in isolation situations or broken plays, Irving would improvise with ease and get much needed baskets for Brooklyn.

It has always been known that Irving, and his deep bag, were going to be important in the Nets title hopes. With many more away games on the docket, it’s going to be important that Brooklyn get as many wins as possible with Irving available, especially with Durant out approximately four-six weeks. With how Irving has been playing since his return, Brooklyn should be able to stack important wins. Hopefully, at some point this season, Irving can play full-time and play at home as well.

Vintage LaMarcus Aldridge

LaMarcus Aldridge turned back the clock to his prime form tonight. After struggling since his return from a foot injury, Aldridge was a key factor in the Nets victory. LA made his living from the mid-range. His iconic post-fadeaways alongside pick-and-pops to space the floor led the way to his 27 points. Impressively, Aldridge did this very efficiently, shooting 73 percent on 15 attempts. Aldridge was solid on the defensive end, grabbing six rebounds and two blocks. He looked solid on drop coverage, and was able to hold his own on some switches.

Seeing Aldridge play well is a good sign for Brooklyn. He’s faired well coming off the bench. His ability to provide much needed scoring helps alleviates pressure for bench scoring from Patty Mills. Aldridge’s scoring and style of play also allows the Nets to be flexible and adaptable when it comes to the offense. While fellow centers Nic Claxton and Day’Ron Sharpe are roll-to-the-rim players, Aldridge is able to space the floor with the mid-range shot or occasional three.

Rookies Continue to Show They Belong

One of the more impressive stories this season is how much the Nets rookies have stepped up. As each game passes, the more and more it shows that Nets general manager Sean Marks has aced this draft class. As mentioned earlier, Day’Ron Sharpe is improving right before our eyes. Getting the start again, he did not disappoint. Though he was playing limited time due to foul trouble, something Sharpe admits he is working on, he was still effective. Sharpe made his presence at the rim, pouring in 14 points. His ability to set good screens and roll hard to the basket has been a huge part of his output. It also helps that he was perfect from the free throw line.

Importantly, Sharpe, with his big frame, has been able to show he can hang in with bigger centers on the defensive end. He was effective in boxing out and ripped in six rebounds.

The Kess Express continues to chug forward. Though he only put up five points, Kessler Edwards has continued to play impressively and win over Nets fans. Even if he only hit one three tonight, Edwards has shown he can be a reliable three-point shooter. However, it was on the defensive end that Edwards made his presence known. Edwards was active on the boards and fighting for rebounds, as he grabbed four. But, his ability to be a pest while guarding an opponent, and his long wingspan allowed him to force multiple turnovers and get three steals. Those steals would lead to more opportunities for Brooklyn to add to their lead, and the win. Only time will tell, but there could be a possibility that Edwards’s 3-and-D skillset can be useful for the Nets come playoff time.

Next Stop on the Roadtrip

The Nets continue their roadtrip and travel to San Antonio to take on the Spurs. The last time the Nets played against San Antonio, we were treated to an overtime thriller and they were able to break their losing streak in that city. The game will take place on January 21 with tip off at 8:30 p.m. EST at AT&T Center.

Currently, the Brooklyn Nets are 28–16. They are third in the Eastern conference, but are only a half-game behind the first place Miami Heat. In what is shaping up to be a close race for the first seed in the Eastern Conference, Brooklyn will need all the wins they can get.