WASHINGTON — The Nets had a shot at their first season sweep of the Wizards in over a decade. What they got was a reminder of just how battle-tested Washington is.
On the verge of getting blown out in the first quarter, the Nets stormed back to force overtime. But that’s when they were found wanting, unable to buy a basket while the seasoned Wizards had all the answers.
The Nets squandered a stirring comeback before losing 119-113 in overtime before a crowd of 18,354 at Capitol One Arena.
The Nets (16-27) trailed by as many as 23, rallying to force overtime on spot starter Quincy Acy’s 3-pointer, but missed their first five shots of the extra stanza. By then Washington (25-18) had taken command at 114-109 and never looked back.
Bradley Beal, who scored a game-high 24 points, broke a 109-all tie with a pull-up jumper. After Caris LeVert had his shot blocked by Markieff Morris and then committed a turnover under the basket, Beal drilled a 3–pointer to push the lead to 114-109.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who had a team-high 22 points and seven assists, turned the ball over on the Nets’ next possession with just under three minutes left in overtime.
Rookie center Jarrett Allen, who scored 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds, sank a pair of free throws to pull the Nets within three with 1:16 remaining, but the Nets got no closer. John Wall (23 points, 16 assists) hit a pull-up with 39 seconds left to essentially seal it.
“Just in terms of beating an excellent team [that win was big],” coach Kenny Atkinson said before the game. “When I was in Atlanta we had terrific battles with these guys, so I can’t tell you how much respect I have. Scott [Brooks] is a great coach. I think they’re going to be in the mix for conference finals and big things.
“They’re a playoff-ready team. So for us to compete and actually play a really good game, that really boosted our confidence, because we respect these guys so much, how good they are. Like I said, tonight is a whole another deal, on the road. This is a tough place to play, so I’m really interested to see how our guys respond.”
Their response left much to be desired — at least early on.
The Nets fell behind right out of the gate, spotting Washington a 20-4 lead. By the time Beal had hit a 3-pointer with 5:57 left in the first quarter, the Nets had already missed ten of their first twelve shots. Beal made it 30-10, and his pull-up jumper pushed it to 57-34 with just under two minutes left in the half.
But the Nets just kept chipping away. Down 59-39 at the break, they opened the second half on an extended 28-11 run to get within three on a pair of Joe Harris free throws.
Washington stopped the bleeding, padding its lead back to 83-74 going into the fourth and 102-91 with 4:15 left in regulation on Otto Porter Jr.’s pullup. But that’s when the Nets closed on a 16-5 run to end regulation, including Acy — who got his first start of the season for injured Tyler Zeller — grabbing an offensive rebound and then drilling a game-tying 3-pointer with 9.1 seconds left to force overtime.
But the Nets missed their first five shots until Hollis-Jefferson broke the drought with 34.8 left. That still left them down 116-113, with Wall’s jumper and Kelly Oubre Jr.’s free throws icing it.