After playing a surprising 29 minutes off the bench in the Wizards’ 108-106 double overtime loss to Charlotte, Nene slouched in his locker room stall, left foot in a bucket of ice, and joked with teammate Kevin Seraphin that he needed a teleporter to take him to the training room.
Nene eventually got up and moved around on his own strength afterward. But he was a spectator for Sunday’s light practice, looking on in a red T-shirt and leaving for the locker room afterward, accompanied by the team masseuse.
Coach Randy Wittman said he expects to have the Brazilian big man in uniform when the Wizards host San Antonio on Monday, though conditioning remains a concern for games that basically amount to training camp and preseason with Nene missing three months of action.
“I plan on him playing,” Wittman said, flustered by the question. “He didn’t get hurt.”
Nene didn’t aggravate the plantar fasciitis in his left foot while scoring 19 points against Charlotte, but he was noticeably fatigued late in the game. At one point in the second overtime, Nene hunched over, gasping for air and grabbing his knees as his teammates patted him on the back to keep him going. Playing so many minutes in just his second game back wasn’t part of the plan.
“It wasn’t, but sometimes you need just take the momentum and go, man,” Nene said after the Bobcats game.
Wittman held Nene to a 20-minute playing time limit in Atlanta, sitting him for the entire overtime period as the Wizards lost 101-100. Nene would’ve played just less than 20 minutes against the Bobcats, but he played both extra periods in an effort to get the first win of the season. Wittman said Nene is the only person who can really determine how much he can handle.
“This is on him. I can’t judge his pain, what kind of pain, if he’s having pain,” Wittman said. “I’m leaving that on him.
“Atlanta was a different situation than it was here in terms of his mind,” he said. “This has got to be his kind of terms. Is he feeling tight? Is he feeling soreness? Is he feeling it being fatigued? And those are questions only he can answer. When he does it’s being let known and then I’ve got to make a substitution. [The Charlotte game] was different. He said he felt fine and wanted to continue on. I give him credit. He fought down to the wire trying to get us a win.”
Nene has returned a few weeks earlier than expected, but he said he doesn’t feel that he is being forced to come back with the Wizards struggling in his absence.
“Pressure? All the players have pressure. There’s not pressure on me,” Nene said. “I just got back, and I try to do my best.”