NEWARK — With the New Jersey Nets moving to Brooklyn next season, the Washington Wizards said farewell on Friday night to Prudential Center, an arena they visited only three times but one that housed two significant games in the franchise’s recent history.
Gilbert Arenas played his final game in a Wizards uniform when the team lost in its lone visit last season, and two weeks ago, Nene played his first game for the organization and led the team to a spirited victory. But the Wizards probably won’t have many memories, pleasant or otherwise, from their final visit.
After a deflating 110-98 loss to the Nets, they likely won’t want to look back on how Jordan Crawford struggled to make shots and had one of his potential baskets goaltended by teammate James Singleton. No way would they want to bring up Shelvin Mack’s failed lob pass, which sailed out of bounds because Kevin Seraphin didn’t make a cut to the basket. And they certainly won’t reminisce on how Chris Singleton stared toward the ceiling after missing a breakaway dunk, prompting injured Nets reserve Jordan Farmar to leave his seat to applaud.
“That was crazy. Fast break. I just started laughing, like it was one of those nights,” Chris Singleton said. “We didn’t come out ready to play. Had a lot of early turnovers . . . felt like the ball was a little slippery.”
Each play led to more looks of bewilderment and astonishment from Coach Randy Wittman, who spent much of the night with his left finger resting on his raised eyebrow. But in a game filled with a missed shots and sloppy passes, the Wizards were at their worst on defense, allowing a team that entered the game ranked 26th in offense to score with little resistance as it built a 24-point in the fourth quarter.
“We let them get whatever they wanted, so we got what we deserved,” Wittman said after the Wizards (12-44) lost their fifth game in a row.
It is their fourth losing streak of at least five games this season. The current skid coincides with the Wizards playing without regular starters Nene and Trevor Booker, who are both dealing with plantar fasciitis in their left feet. Nene has been putting in light work before games with the hope of returning sometime next week, but Booker aggravated his injury this week while trying to make a return and said it might’ve “set me back two days or so.”
John Wall led Washington with 18 points and six rebounds and tried to provide a lift with a few spectacular plays. He caught an alley-oop pass from Crawford and dunked it backward, then ran down the floor and blocked a Deron Williams layup attempt.
“A lot of guys were fatigued, but that’s no excuse,” Wall said. “We started making a little run, but they kept making shots, and when you’re putting in so much energy into it while the other team is making shots, it’s kind of like . . . you have to let it go.”
Seraphin continued to provide offensive production, overcoming a slow start to finish with 15 points and nine rebounds. Crawford had his second consecutive rough night from the floor, as he finished with just nine points on 3-for-12 shooting. He missed 11 of 13 shots the night before in a 99-94 loss at Detroit.
“It was tough because we was missing a lot of shots as a team and I was adding on to that with the easy shots I was missing,” Crawford said. “I’m a no-excuse guy, but they stepped on our throats. They didn’t really miss.”
The Nets (20-37) shot a season-high 56.2 percent, the fourth consecutive Wizards opponent to shoot better than 50 percent from the floor. After getting ejected for arguing with officials in the last meeting, Williams finished with a game-high 19 points and 13 assists.
Gerald Wallace also had 19 points, MarShon Brooks had 18, Anthony Morrow added 17 and former Maryland center Jordan Williams had 14 points for the Nets, who led wire-to-wire and got some payback for the Wizards’ 108-89 victory in Nene’s first game.
New Jersey won the season series two games to one after winning the season opener at Verizon Center in December.
“I think everybody get tired,” Seraphin said. “When you start to be tired, you don’t listen anymore in your mind. That was difficult.”
The Wizards were playing their third game in three nights — and seventh game in nine days — and certainly lacked the energy to compete with the Nets. With the Wizards trailing, 96-78, with 6 minutes 37 seconds remaining, Roger Mason Jr. shouted to his teammates to pick up on defense. On the ensuing play, Gerald Green drove right past Mason and waltzed into the lane for uncontested tomahawk slam as no Wizard rotated to stop him.
“It’s a learning experience for us,” Mack said. “The great thing is, for the rest of our NBA careers, we’ll never have to go through anything like this again, because of the shortened season. You try to bring some energy every night, but it’s tough to do with all of this traveling. Coming off a back-to-back, then off a day, then three in a row, down a few guys, it’s definitely tough.”
And the Wizards can now look forward to facing the Nets in Brooklyn.
“Looking forward to seeing the new place,” Wittman said.