Wizards score first 20, pull away late to beat Nets 120-111
NEW YORK (AP) The Washington Wizards had nine baskets and 20 points before the Nets had one of either, and Randy Wittman wished he could've enjoyed the show more.
Problem is, he's seen what happened next.
''You relax, I think,'' Washington's coach said. ''I hate it, I hate those leads. I mean I love them, but I hate them, especially at the start of the game. I mean you can look, it happens all the time, 18-2 and all of sudden end of the first quarter it's a two-point game or something. So I just thought we relaxed a little bit.''
The Wizards recovered after blowing their 20-0 lead, as Ramon Sessions had 21 points and 12 assists in a 120-111 victory over Brooklyn on Monday night.
Marcus Thornton scored 19 points as he and Sessions did just fine in replacing injured starting guards John Wall and Bradley Beal. J.J. Hickson had 15 points as Washington put seven players in double figures.
The Wizards looked headed for a blowout victory playing at the quick tempo they prefer. Instead, they needed another big run in the fourth quarter to finally put it away.
''We knew at the end of the game if we continued to play that pace we'd be fine,'' Sessions said. ''We just had to get some stops and we did in that second half.''
The Wizards have won two straight since being eliminated from playoff contention and can finish .500 by beating Atlanta in their season finale.
Shane Larkin scored a career-high 20 points and added seven assists and six rebounds for the Nets, who have lost nine in a row and have their first 60-loss season since a franchise-worst 12-70 record in 2009-10.
A night after giving up 129 points in Indiana, the Nets were most defenseless again, allowing Washington to shoot 52 percent from the field.
Marcin Gortat won the opening tip and then made the first basket 23 seconds in to start the early onslaught. Washington scored inside and out, with another basket by Gortat making it 20-0 before the Nets snapped their 0-for-8 start with Chris McCullough's 3-pointer with 7 1/2 minutes left in the quarter. Gortat had Washington's first miss on the next trip, and the Nets steadied themselves and cut it to 34-28 after one.
They took the lead late in the second before Kelly Oubre Jr. took a long pass and beat the buzzer from beyond 30 feet to give Washington a 70-69 edge.
''I didn't think our starters got into the game as quick as we wanted them to and the second group that got out there changed the whole intensity and pace of the game,'' Nets interim coach Tony Brown said.
It was close straight through the third and the Nets were down only three early in the fourth before a 13-4 run expanded Washington's lead to 116-104.
Wizards: Wall has a sore right knee and Beal injured his pelvis after playing just eight minutes in Sunday's victory over Charlotte. ... Washington went 3-0 against Brooklyn this season.
Nets: Brooklyn had a season-high 37 fast-break points. ... Forward Thomas Robinson missed the game with a sore right knee. ... Bojan Bogdanovic, the only Nets player to start all three games against Washington, scored 20 points.
Sessions celebrated his 30th birthday with his fourth start of the season. The Wizards are 5-0 when he has seven or more assists and 3-0 when he starts and scores 15 or more points.
NOT LOOKING AHEAD
Brown said the Nets' young players are still being evaluated and was asked if he still believed he was by new general manager Sean Marks.
''I can't answer that. I really can't,'' Brown said before the game. ''We've got two games left. I feel like the situation has been tough from the beginning, I've tried to make the best of it and I'm going to continue to do that the last two games and whatever happens, happens. I'm not worried about my fate with this organization.''
Wizards: Host Atlanta on Wednesday
Nets: Host Toronto on Wednesday.