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John Wall, Nene combine to lead Wizards past Pelicans
Dribbling on the perimeter with the final seconds ticking off the clock and Washington down by a point, Wall found his opening. He drove the lane, drew the defense, and slipped a pass to a cutting Nene for the game-winning slam dunk with 0.9 seconds left in a 94-93 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night.
“I just prayed,” Nene said. “I wanted to finish with the ball in my hands. They put the ball into my hands. John, he did amazing, penetration right there, he found me right there.”
Slamming the ball with his right hand, Nene finished with 30 points to match his career high.
It wasn’t the play Wall had in mind.
“I wanted to shoot a jump shot,” Wall said. “I saw Anthony Davis come and I wanted to whip it around to (Marcin Gortat.) But I saw (Jeff) Withey come at the same time and I saw Nene right there and that was the easiest, safest pass and luckily he got it off in time.”
Moments earlier, Wall had scored with a driving, off-balance shot in the lane to put Washington in front 92-91 with 27 seconds left. But Davis answered with two free throws with seven seconds to go. The Wizards called a timeout to set up Wall.
“John made two plays at the end that you can’t teach,” Washington coach Randy Wittman said. “He got to the basket for the layup. For being down one with the time running down, under control, to make that last play to Nene for the dunk, it was good execution down the stretch.”
The play spoiled a big performance by Davis, who had 26 points and 11 rebounds. Anthony Morrow added 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting in a game that had 22 lead changes.
“We were down. We were up. We were down. We were up,” Davis said. “To come in close and lose, especially on a play like that, is tough.”
Nene made 13 of 19 shots. With Wall and Beal, the Wizards‘ top two threats, combining for just 21 points, Washington turned to its frontcourt. Center Marcin Gortat contributed 16 points and 10 rebounds.
Andre Miller, acquired in a deadline deal on Thursday, made his Wizards‘ debut, scoring five points with three assists in 16 minutes.
“I thought I probably played too many minutes,” Miller said. “It will probably take about a week. My wind was cool.”
It was an uncharacteristic start for Washington, as Wall and Beal failed to score in the first quarter. But theWizards’ other three starters compensated, hitting 11 of their first 13 shots as Washington took an early lead and held it for most of the half.
Withey sparked New Orleans late in the second quarter with an emphatic rejection of Gortat. The 7-footer followed with a slam to give the Pelicans their first lead since the opening minutes, 37-36, and set the scene for a see-saw battle the rest of the way.
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