Nene stays engaged despite injury, Trevor Booker hopes to return “in a few days”

October 11, 2012

Nene grabbed a comfortable seat for the final minutes of Wizards practice. He slipped off his left sock and shoe, placed his left foot on a bag of ice, and buried his head in his hand.

The timetable for Nene’s return is remains mystery, but he listened intently as Coach Randy Wittman went over a series of drills to get the Wizards to get out on the break and quickly into the offense.

Kevin Seraphin walked behind Nene to grab some Gatorade and tried to say something, but Nene stopped him with his index finger, then pointed toward Wittman. Seraphin then leaned down and listened to Wittman as well. Nene doesn’t want to be too far behind whenever he is able to practice again, and he even asked questions during the exercise.

“We added things we didn’t have when he was with us,” Wittman said. “I want them to stay engaged and have an understanding when he gets out on the floor.”

Nene said recently that he planned on being a vocal leader from the sideline until he comes back. That’s only possible if he knows what’s going on.

“I hope I can comeback soon,” he said. “I’m going to do the maximum I can. I can lead, vocal, talk to the players, see things they didn’t see while they played. That’s the way I can help them.”

Nene and John Wall will be out for a while, but Trevor Booker said on Wednesday that the left hamstring that has sidelined him since last Saturday is “getting better daily” and he “should be ready in a few days.”

“It’s a little strain,” Booker said. “It’s just tight right now, it’s not sore. So they say that’s a good sign.”

Booker started to feel some soreness in his leg during the second practice last Friday and has been frustrated having to sit out. He won’t be available for the Wizards’ lone home preseason game on Thursday against the New York Knicks.

“I’m definitely ready to get back. I hate just watching the team. So I’m ready to get back,” Booker said.

Booker is also eager to see his teammates rebound from their 100-88 loss on Sunday in Charlotte, where they allowed the Bobcats to shoot 41 free throws.

“The Charlotte game, we did some things good but I think we did more things bad and we addressed them and we’ve been getting better at them in practice,” Booker said. “The biggest thing from Game 1, transition defense. We looked terrible at times. Had a lot straight line drives in transition. And another thing is fouling. I think they shot 40-plus free throws in that game. I think that’s a crazy number.”

When asked if he thought the referees are calling the games tighter, Booker replied, “I’m not sure, but either way, we have to adjust to it.”

Wittman blamed most of his team’s struggles in the first game on nervous energy and excitement.

“It’s always hard when you go eight or nine straight practices without playing anybody. You play that first game, you’re anxious, you kind of forget about everything you’re trying to do and your anxiety tales over,” Wittman said. “We’ve got to start thinking the game and having an understanding of what we want to do.”

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.
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Michael Lee · October 10, 2012

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