Nets survive late game scare in win over Wizards

Brooklyn Nets Washington Wizards
Jan 19, 2022; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) hugs Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) after their game against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Wizards gave the Nets a scare late in the fourth quarter, but Brooklyn was able to bear down and close out a 119-118 win on Wednesday night at Capital One Arena. The game came down to the final seconds as the Nets clung to the one-point lead.

Kyle Kuzma missed a three-point shot with 4.7 seconds left on the clock, but the Wizards grabbed the rebound. Spencer Dinwiddie’s last-second shot didn’t drop and the Nets secured their 16th road win of the season.

“Obviously you’re happy when they bounce off the rim, but you’re holding your breath when they’re up in the air,” Nets coach Steve Nash said about the end of the game. “It was a scrambling, sloppy finish to a game and we found a way. We made just enough plays.”

The Nets are 26-16 on the season and half a game back of the first-place Miami Heat.

Brooklyn allowed Washington to hang around despite leading by 16 at one point in the third quarter. A 9-0 run in the fourth pulled Washington within one of Brooklyn.

The Nets went on a 6-0 run of their own, started by a Kyrie Irving layup, that put some space between themselves and the Wizards. Washington managed to four quick points with just under four minutes to play in the fourth allowing the Wizards to cut the Nets’ lead to 113-111.

LaMarcus Aldridge was able to put the Nets ahead by six with two quick baskets, which included a shot with 1:54 left, but the Wizards closed the gap again when Kuzma hit a corner three with 36.6 left to make it a one-point game.

“Just trying to compete and get a game. They play well here,” Aldridge said. “They found their offensive rhythm late, so just trying to make them take tough shots, trying to crash the boards and trying to get a win. They had some good looks which was scary at the end, but the basketball gods were on our side.”

Irving finished the night with a game-high 30 points on 13-of-23 shooting from the field. LaMarcus Aldridge scored a season-high 27 points, which included 19 in the first half, and  James Harden put up 18 points in the win.

Paty Mills had 17 points and shot 5-of-7 from three-point range.

Wednesday’s game was the second in a four-game road trip the Nets are currently on and a stretch where they’ll play nine of 11 games on the road. Brooklyn is also playing without its cornerstone player, Kevin Durant, and Nash is hoping the win in Washington gives the Nets some confidence going forward.

“Just getting a win I think was just such a positive thing, not just for the win, but it’s a long road trip,” Nash said. “We have tons of road games coming up. We thought that the Cleveland game was winnable, although we didn’t play well enough in the first half. So tonight for three quarters we were pretty good. We have lots of things to clean up, but in the fourth quarter, we didn’t play great but found a way.

“That gives us a little bit of confidence and builds a little bit of resolve. We can lean on our resilience at times  and clean up the technical aspects.”

Despite the close final score, the Nets trailed only once during the entire night and that came in the opening minutes of the first quarter with Brooklyn down 3-2. A Kyrie Irving jumper quickly eliminated the deficit and the Nets never looked back.

The Nets and Wizard traded baskets in the first and Brooklyn ended with a 33-28 lead. They opened up the game a bit more in the second quarter.

Mills nailed a three to put the Nets up 61-49 and then an Irving basket with 1:07 left had the Nets up by 14, which was their largest lead of the half. The Nets finished the first half up 74-62, which was the most points Brooklyn has scored in a half of basketball this season.