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In each of the four games Nenê played – he missed a fifth, the second of games on consecutive nights, for precautionary reasons – he has narrowly surpassed his season average by averaging 14.3 points. His tenacity on the boards has yet to return, though it’s clear he has started to regain trust in his knee.

“Having him definitely helps us, just because of everything he brings to the table,” said guard Bradley Beal. “We’ve missed him over the last couple games when he wasn’t with us, but for him to be back now, playing at a high level even with his knee, is definitely a great sign. Hopefully, moving forward, we continue to use him to our best interests.”

Nenê still hasn’t shown that he can handle his pre-injury workload of 30 minutes a game – but then again, he hasn’t given any indication he can’t, either.

As he came off the practice court Saturday at Verizon Center before the team headed west, sweat dripped down his head, his jersey was damp and the bulky black brace he had been wearing on his left knee glistened.

“Before, I was just walking, and now, I’m going to run, jog a little bit,” Nenê said, smiling. “When it’s the playoffs, I’ll be running.”