Coming into tonight’s match-up against the Magic, the Wizards knew they were going to have to pick up some slack in the absence of Nene, who yesterday was diagnosed with a sprained MCL, they did just that in a big way with a 115-106 victory over the Magic.
Washington had a big night from John Wall with 27 points, but it wasn’t just the Wall and Beal show in the backcourt that helped the Wizards to back over the .500 mark tonight, it was the other big men in Marcin Gortat and Trevor Booker.
“I automatically tried to put myself in the situation to score,” said Gortat, who was 9 for 13 from the field. “I yell to John. Sometimes he’s going to yell back at me, then I would just say, `Hey, Nene’s not here.’ This is what I’ve got to do to lead this team, help this team inside, and I’m going to run to the block and demand the ball, and I believe I’m capable of doing it.”
Perhaps the best thing from the injury to Nene is how the team has come behind to rally in his absence with players such as Trevor Ariza again picking up the slack from the perimeter tonight with 5 fo5 from long range finishing with 22 points.
Victor Oladipo scored 26 points and Nikola Vucevic added 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Magic, who tied a single-season franchise record by losing their 16th consecutive road game. They remain without leading scorer Arron Afflalo, who missed his second game with a sprained right ankle.
One of the biggest statements of the night came from John Wall when he reacted to how the team would perform in the absence of Nene.
“Oh, hell. Here we go again,” Wall said, when asked his reaction to Nene’s injury. “Another tough injury for our team. It’s something we dealing since I’ve been here; guys being injured. It’s tough when he’s a key part of your team. Everybody jumped on this thing, we can’t win without him. But it’s a good opportunity for us to step up and be bigger players.”
Next up, the Wizards hit the road for two games against the Raptors and Saturday night against the Sixers.