Trevor Booker had been steaming on the bench, frustrated with his limited role and eager for a morsel that he could turn into a meal. With Nene missing his fourth game of the season with problems in his right Achilles’ tendon, Booker was given his fourth start of the season on Monday against the Denver Nuggets and provided the hustle and passion that he had been waiting to unleash.
Booker posted season highs with 12 points and 12 rebounds while adding two blocked shots in the Wizards’ 75-74 loss to the Nuggets.
“I just needed an opportunity and the opportunity came and I feel like I did a pretty good job,” Booker said, “but I’d rather have the win.”
Booker’s performance against the Nuggets continued his solid production since being put back into the regular rotation. After venting his frustrations following a DNP-Coach’s Decision against the Atlanta Hawks, Booker is averaging nine points, 7.7 rebounds and a blocked shot in 24.3 minutes the past three games.
“Book played good. Came in and gave us 12 and 12. That’s what I’m looking for,” Coach Randy Wittman said. “He’s played the last two games with great energy. That’s what you need. I’m looking for more guys to do that.”
Despite Booker’s best efforts, the Wizards are 0-4 this season without Nene. And, in their past two losses in Nene’s absence against Indiana and Denver, Washington has averaged just 73.5 points. Martell Webster also sat out the Nuggets game with a sprained left ankle, which allowed Glen Rice Jr. to get his first career start.iframe code:
With three of their top six scorers out of the lineup, the Wizards needed to fill the void collectively but didn’t get much help from an already under-performing second unit. The Wizards had only got five points from the bench – a three-point play in the first half by Chris Singleton and a jump hook in the second half by Jan Vesely. The reserves combined to shoot 2 of 13 from the field.
“It was a tough night offensively, but we’ve got to get more than five points from our bench,” Wittman said. “Not just from four guys, five guys, that’s got to get better for us. We got up 12 at end of the third [quarter] and at the beginning of the fourth, I looked up, it’s two right away. Losing a lead in 2 ½, three minutes, I’ve got a figure out a way to find guys that, you don’t have to increase it by 12. Keep it at 12, keep it at 10, keep it at eight, until we can the main guys back in there.”
John Wall scored a game-high 20 points but played raggedly toward the finish. He had even more pressure to produce with backup Eric Maynor continuing to provide next to nothing. Maynor played just five minutes and the offense appeared discombobulated with him at the controls. The Wizards had a 24-second shot clock violation, Maynor also got stripped from behind by Evan Fournier and shot a rushed, desperation three-pointer to avoid another shot-clock violation.
Wittman finally yanked Maynor after another terrible possession in which Maynor dribbled the ball for 14 seconds, then passed the ball to rookie Otto Porter Jr. Porter gave the ball back three seconds later and Maynor dribbled some more before tossing up a shot that was about five feet to the left of the backboard. Referee Eddie Rush knocked down the ball to spare fans seated in the front row.
Kevin Seraphin, who missed the previous game with a sore right knee, returned but shot an air ball jump hook in five minutes. Garrett Temple missed two shots, including a potential go-ahead layup in the final seconds. Porter didn’t attempt a shot.
Wall admitted that incorporating different players because of injuries and inconsistency has been a challenge.
“I just tell them to be confident,” he said. “I know it’s tough because you’re just not used to playing that much or you haven’t played all season,” he said. “You have to go out there and get the butterflies out of the way.
Booker didn’t have any butterflies and he’s hoping that his recent play has ensured some playing time when Nene returns to the starting lineup. “It felt good,” he said. “I don’t think it’s the fact that I started. Whether it’s starting or coming off the bench. I’m going to leave it all on the court.”