USA TODAY Sports
It sounds like December, but with more wins. Over the last eight games, since beating the Knicks at the Garden, the Nets have averaged 91 points a game and been shooting poorly. They're also 4-4 over that stretch with the only two-game losing streak of P.J. Carlesimo's tenure. But everyone's talking about John Wall's return and defense. In fact, it appears that no one asked about the offense at shootaround.
Indeed, the Wizards are 8-7 since he's returned and have the same record as the Nets in the last eight. While Wall has been showy, it's the Wizards defense that has improved. They're the NBA's top perimeter defense in their last 10 games, as well as in the top five in opponent field goal percentage and points per game over that stretch.
On offense, Washington loves to fast break with the league's fastest point guard leading them and their perimeter players like Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza are playing well, too. They have two good bigs, although neither are likely to shut down Brook Lopez. Still, no one is dismissing them because they've only won 13 games.
At shootaround in the Verizon Center, Joe Johnson noted: "They've got John Wall back, so thats motivation for them to come out and play a little harder. Its kind of like they are not really playing for anything, its easy to come out and play loose and have fun and play together. So we understand we are playing a very dangerous team right now."
But before pessimists put this one down in the loss column, remember as well that since Wall has returned, the Wizards have lost to the Kings ... twice. No one else has achieved that.
- Nets aware of the Wall - Rod Boone - Newsday
- Nets face challenge against Wizards with Wall (Video) - Tim Bontemps
- W2W4: Nets at Wizards - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
Barkley: D-Will, Iso Joe look slow - Mike Mazzeo - ESPN New York
- John Wall Has Changed the Culture for #Wizards Since Return - Jim Mancari - SNY Nets