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Nets bond over Pierce's criticism


Nets bond over Pierce's criticism

Forget that an Eastern Conference semifinals series with the Brooklyn Nets would give the Washington Wizards home court advantage. Look past the better record against the Nets (2-2) than the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks (1-3). Those that appreciate trash talk and the fine art of trolling want the Wizards against the Nets in round two, and the Paul Pierce connection is the reason.

During the same interview in which he questioned if the Toronto Raptors had the "It" factor, Pierce also took shots at his former team. After fifteen seasons in Boston, the future Hall of Fame forward was traded to Brooklyn before the 2013-14 season along with Kevin Garnett. 

"I'm much happier,'' Pierce said of being with the Wizards. "It was a tough situation (in Brooklyn) last year. Horrible, really. It was just the guys' attitudes there. It wasn't like we were surrounded by a bunch of young guys. They were vets who didn't want to play and didn't want to practice. ...If me and Kevin weren't there, that team would have folded up. That team would have packed it in. We kept them going each and every day.'' Pierce left the Nets and signed with the Wizards in July.

While the Raptors folded under the weight of Pierce's knock, the Nets have bonded, especially around point guard Deron Williams, who received the brunt of Pierce's criticism.

"Before I got there, I looked at Deron as an MVP candidate,'' Pierce said. "But I felt once we got there, that's not what he wanted to be. He just didn't want that. ..."The media in Utah is not the same as the media in New York, so that can wear on some people. I think it really affected him.'' 

The eighth-seeded Nets have won two straight games to tie No. 1 Atlanta in their first round series. From The Brooklyn Game following the Nets overtime victory Monday night in Game 4:

No Nets player has endured more criticism... from fans, media members, and even former teammate Paul Pierce, who questioned Williams’s leadership and willingness to improve. The Nets rallied around Williams in the past two days, with public support from multiple teammates and coach Lionel Hollins. “I thought it was a huge, huge step in unity for our ball club,” Hollins added.

At least one member of the Nets, Jarrett Jack, was surprised by Pierce’s comments. “Especially about something that’s in the past,” Jack said. “It’s over and done with. You know what I mean? If you had something you wanted to say or speak up on, you should’ve did it when you was in the locker room with him. And doing it publicly, I thought that was –”

“I don’t know. I ain’t gonna say it’s in poor taste, because I think Paul is professional, he probably just answered the question. But I probably wouldn’t have did it in that fashion.”

Williams, who was once in the running for the unofficial title of the best point guard in the NBA, scored five points combined in Game 2 and 3 of the series. He turned back the clock with a dazzling 35-point performance in Game 4. More from The Brooklyn Game recap:

Williams has heard every word, and admitted in a candid moment that he’d let the criticism affect his play.

“I’ve had a lot of support in the last couple of days, with things that have been said, not only from my teammates but other people in my life,” Williams said at the podium. “It definitely means a lot. Jarrett’s talked to me a lot about being aggressive, and just keeping my head on. I do have a tendency to get down on myself pretty hard and pretty quick, and so he definitely told me I was due for one.”

Yep, Wizards-Nets, would be all kinds of fun. Surprisingly, that matchup might just happen.

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 122-105 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night...

1. This was a tough one for the Wizards. For the third time this season, they got beaten by the Hornets and for the second straight time it was in a blowout.

They still had their moments, though, including this alley-oop from Tomas Satoransky (11 points) to Markieff Morris (13 points, eight assists, six rebounds). It was the second alley-oop connection for those two in as many games:


2. This was a play that encapsulated the Wizards' night. Jodie Meeks drew a flagrant foul on Michael Carter-Williams, but took a hard shot to the head:

3. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had a solid game with 11 points, including this big dunk:


4. Speaking of Oubre, he helped the Wizards close the first half with a late surge. The real highlight was Bradley Beal stealing the ball and hitting a corner three at the buzzer:

5. Beal ended up with 33 points, six assists and six rebounds. Here's an and-1 he got to go down in the second half:

All in all, it was an ugly performance for the Wizards. To cheer you up, we'll leave you with this young fan who had a great time at Capital One Arena despite the result:



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Wizards suffer lopsided loss against Hornets, who have had their number this season

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Wizards suffer lopsided loss against Hornets, who have had their number this season

The Washington Wizards lost to the Charlotte Hornets 122-105 on Friday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Bad matchup: Despite their poor record, there is something about this Charlotte Hornets team that gives the Wizards trouble. The Wizards lost to the Hornets (26-33) for the third time in three tries this season on Friday night and, aside from a push in the third quarter, they were never really in it.

All in all, it was a dud of a game for the Wizards who were probably due for one. They had won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall got injured. They were also coming off a huge road win the night before in Cleveland, a game that started an hour later than usual.

It was a tough turnaround and the Wizards sure looked like it. It was evident in their defense and unforced errors. They did, however, have a decent shooting night. They shot 49.4 percent from the field 16-for-17 from the free throw line.

The Wizards' second unit didn't provide a lift outside of Kelly Oubre, Jr. (11 points). Mike Scott, one of their best bench options, was held scoreless.


Ugly first half: The Wizards only trailed by 12 points at halftime, but that score was skewed by a five-point push in the final seconds. The Hornets dominated for much of the first two quarters and did so by hitting threes and forcing turnovers. Those mistakes dug the Wizards a hole they never recovered from.

The Wizards had 10 turnovers in the first half, the same amount they had in their entire game the night before. Limiting mistakes was a big reason they beat the Cavaliers, yet the script was flipped by Charlotte.

The Hornets capitalized with 23 points off those 10 first-half turnovers. The Wizards had 14 giveaways for the games that led to 28 total points. 

Charlotte was 7-for-11 from three at one point in the first half and finished 17-for-39 (43.6%) for the game. That is very uncharacteristic for the Wizards, who entered the night second in the NBA in opponents three-point percentage.

Again, though, the first half ended well as Oubre and Bradley Beal gave the Wizards a jolt in the final seconds:


Bad defense: The Wizards have played some great defense in recent weeks, but they just didn't have it on Friday night. Most surprising were the guys that hurt them most.

Dwight Howard was limited to 11 points and six rebounds and Kemba Walker didn't score his first points until the final minute of the first half. But others like Frank Kaminsky (23 points), Marvin Williams (15 points) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14 points) got pretty much anything they wanted.

For Walker, it was a tale of two halves. He was held in check by Tomas Satoransky in the first half, but broke out in the third quarter and finished with 24 points and seven rebounds. Maybe it was tired legs on the Wizards' part, but Walker just kept dribbling until he got space and once he did, he knocked down shots.

Much like Kyle Lowry did a few weeks ago, Walker made adjustments to find success against Satoransky. We haven't seen that happen much since Wall went out, but those two have given him some trouble. Both guys are considerably smaller than Satoransky and very quick. Maybe there's something to that.

Add it all up and this was one of the worst defensive games of the season for the Wizards. They allowed their most points in a game since Jan. 17 against, you guessed it, the Hornets. Only three times this year have they given up more than what they allowed on Friday.

No Sessions: The Wizards did not debut their newest player on Friday night, which was probably to be expected given Ramon Sessions has not had any practice time yet. That is part of why he didn't play, but it's also another indication that he is unlikely to play much with the Wizards. Sessions is on a 10-day contract and is not expected to supplant either Satoransky or Tim Frazier at point guard. Frazier would seem to be the guy in danger of losing minutes, but it was business as usual for him against the Hornets.

Up next: The Wizards are off Saturday before returning to action at home against the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.