January 13, 2014
United Center, Chicago, IL
From the moment Nene was acquired by the Wizards via Denver Nuggets GM Masai Ujiri’s buyer’s remorse in 2011, we all braced ourselves for what we knew would be inevitable: an ongoing Brazilian carnival of injuries that necessitated patience, plan B’s, and of course, prayers.
After suffering another relapse to his ever so decaying lower body and subsequently being reduced to a 6th man for the next dozen games, Nene finally reemerged into his starting role last night in Chicago.
The dividends of that decision were abundant.
Nene torched Carlos Boozer and the Bulls’ front court and bombarded the game’s stat sheet, spearing the Wizards to their seventh road win in nine games by beating the Bulls 102-88.
Nene tied his season high in minutes played with 36 and in the process, collected 19 points on 9-for-14 shooting to go along with his 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals.
Much of the night was a game of runs. The Wizards shot out to an 8-0 lead after the opening tip off and knocked down 10 of their first 12 shots. The Wizards sent Nene to work right on the opening position, feeding him the ball in the paint and running the offense around him. It led to a slick dish to Beal for the opening bucket. The Wizards took a seven point lead into the second quarter, where they would inflate it to 15 behind efficient ball movement and Bradley Beal.
Despite the Wizards offensive potency, the free throw shooting remained a dire issue. The Wizards missed six free throws in that 2nd quarter alone and shot 60% for the night from the charity stripe. Luckily the Bulls shot equally as bad.
And as deemed customary now, a critical 3rd quarter funk once again swallowed the Wizards and reduced their 13 point lead to just four only just halfway through the quarter. The Wizards tanked the first five minutes going 0-for-6, and suffering 2 blocked shots and 2 turnovers.
But the Wizards kept it moving. They made shots when shots were critical. They remained poised and collective, and they kept going back to what was driving them all night long: a springy Nene Hilario. Nene scored 8 of his 19 in the final quarter, facializing Boozer at will and keeping the Wizards one step ahead.
MVP: Nene – 19 points, 9-14 FG, 5 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks
As mentioned earlier, Nene got the most burn he’s had all season, clocking 36 minutes against the Bulls last night and we all marveled at his turnout. The increase in fluidity of the offense with Nene on the court was evidenced last night as vast improvements were seen in floor spacing, along with a more effective Marcin Gortat. Nene’s diverse skill set offers the Wizards a lot more to work with especially in half court sets and gives the Wizards a much more content offensive flow. Step back midrange; a drive to the rim, a dish to a cutter from the post, or a strong South American deltoid in your chest. Pick your poison.
LVP: Eric Maynor – Default
Randy Wittman introduced an 8-man rotation last night that resulted in five “DNP-CD’s” including Otto, Honza, Singleton, Snakey, and of course, #MaynorTime. While Otto is still being nurtured and Singleton, Seraphin and Vesely are accustomed to nights where they never make eye contact with Witt, for me, Eric Maynor’s ongoing disappearance from the court is most bothersome. Maybe it’s the player option clause on his contract for next year that reminds me of his likely existence next season.
Key stat of the game: – Nene’s 36 minutes
Now while Nene’s hefty involvement paid off greatly, it clearly negated his minutes restriction meaning Wittman could be back to maximizing anything he can contribute. Which triggers my greatest fear of a another potential setback. Learning curves suggest that Nene should probably remain on some sort of minute balance to avoid a relapse but then we wouldn’t be #SoWizards.
The Wizards enter a 5-game home stretch starting with Lebron & Co. tomorrow night. The Wizards have struggled at home losing seven of their last eight.
FROM THE LOCKER ROOM
(Click on the quotes to view full interview, courtesy of Monumental Network)
— Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It) January 14, 2014
Tony Snell is a combination of Darius Miles and the kid who took out Martin Lawrence's daughter in Bad Boys 2.
— A. Sharif (@Abdu11ah) January 14, 2014
— Danny (@recordsANDradio) January 14, 2014
EMayor got that sweat suit zipped up TIGHT.
— wizznutzz (@wzzntzz) January 14, 2014
Yes I think he's happy about what he's seeing https://t.co/iL5Tfv5u69
— Mimi (@MimiPh) January 14, 2014