The Washington Wizards rallied after trailing by as many as 13 points deep into the third quarter, but they did so only to fall in overtime, 111-106, to the Brooklyn Nets.
Nene and John Wall led the Wizards’ efforts with 19 and 16 points, respectively, but Brooklyn head coach Jason Kidd allowed the Nets’ newest additions plenty of time to show their stuff against a Washington team determined to erase memories of last season’s disappointments. In efforts to make up for Emeka Okafor’s absence, Jan Vesely led Washington with 12 rebounds on the day, although he did tally twice as many fouls than points in his 28:22 on the court.
Despite the fact the Nets committed 24 turnovers, the Wizards’ 23 seemed to make all the difference.
“This team is not going to get over the top until they take better care of the basketball,” Wizards head coach Randy Wittman said after the game. “What did we have, 23 turnovers…we forced 24 but we gave up 23. Start of the third quarter I think six out of the first seven or five out of the first six possessions were turnovers, and then they put it up to eight, nine, 10 whatever it was during that stretch. We were just too careless.”
Nevertheless, after trailing by just four points at the half, the Nets’ 11-0 run hurt Washington early in the third quarter. But, a pair of free throws by Glen Rice Jr. and five additional points by Al Harrington put Washington within five into the fourth.
Free throws helped to keep the Nets at arm’s length and, with 33 seconds remaining, Eric Maynor’s floating jumper pulled Washington within two, trailing 96-94.
Maynor’s free throw on the play made it 96-95 and, after Nets rookie center Mason Plumlee sank one of his free baskets with eight seconds remaining, Rice slammed in a missed shot by Maynor to tie the game with under a second left in the quarter.
Unfortunately for Washington, the Nets fired on all cylinders in overtime. By the time Tyshawn Taylor found Plumlee for his first alley oop with 2:06 remaining, Brooklyn had glided to a six-point lead, up 105-99. For added insurance, the duo repeated the display little more than a minute later, to make it 108-101 with no wiggle room for Washington.
Rice’s three free throws pulled the Wizards back within four, down 104-108, but it was too late by then. Rice’s missed three with 15 seconds remaining sealed the deal as the Nets handed Kidd his first coaching victory, 111-106.