“That is what good teams do, like San Antonio,” Nene said. “Everybody’s together, they have a good atmosphere. Good teams, they stick together.”
Nene has been limited to eight games since being acquired from Denver at the trade deadline, but he was determined to come back from plantar fasciitis in his left foot before the season ended to have moments like Saturday night, when he and John Wall offered a possible glimpse of what’s in store for next season.
Wall assisted on the final nine baskets against the Heat, including four dishes to Nene, who scored each time. Nene also provided a stabilizing presence on both ends, as he recorded a blocked shot on a Mike Miller layup in the final minute.
“The more they play, the better,” Coach Randy Wittman said of Wall and Nene. “They’ll get a feel for each other. I think it’s a really good combination.”
The Wizards (17-46) are 4-4 with Nene in the lineup, including the past two games, and they have won five of their past seven games overall, with victories over playoff-bound Chicago, Miami and Orlando. They also crushed Milwaukee’s playoff hopes last week.
“Everybody is just clicking right now,” Jordan Crawford said. “Everybody is lifting each other up and getting victories out of it. I think we just playing good at this time. We got Nene back. We picked up a lot of great players that complement us well. I think for the first time, you’re really getting to see how good we can be.”
When Crawford mentioned three weeks ago, following a loss to Milwaukee, that he wanted the Wizards to finish with 20 victories, it seemed as if it would be an extremely lofty goal. At the time, the Wizards had 12 wins and needed to win eight of their last 13 games — when it took the team 36 games to win its first eight.
But as the Wizards approach their final three games, Crawford’s target is well within reach. They will close the season at home on Monday against the league-worst Charlotte Bobcats, on the road against the lottery-bound Cleveland Cavaliers and in the home finale against a Miami team that will likely rest LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in preparation of its first-round playoff series.
Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra probably wishes he had sat the trio on Saturday, and not just James and Bosh, after Wade dislocated his left index finger less than three minutes into the Wizards’ 87-84 win. The victory established Washington as the only team in the NBA this season to have road wins over the Bulls and Heat, the two top seeds in the Eastern Conference, though they obviously benefited from not facing those team’s all-star talents in either contest.