Not only did Bradley Beal play less than 24 hours after he actually cried from the pain that came with spraining his right ankle, he started and struck early for the Wizards, but it was the play of Drew Gooden in the fourth quarter that helped erase a 10-point deficit to get past the Brooklyn Nets in a pivotal matchup with major playoff consequences Saturday.
The Wizards (35-31) have swept all three games this season vs. the Nets (33-31), who were led by Marcus Thornton with 19 points off the bench. And they did it in front of an energized sellout of 20,356 at Verizon Center.
Gooden, playing on his second 10-day contract, had a season-high 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting and a season-high nine rebounds and a blocked shot. It was his most points since April 2012 with the Milwaukee Bucks as coach Randy Wittman stuck with the hot hand rather than going back to Marcin Gortat, who had a miserable game with 1-for-8 shooting, just two points and four turnovers.
During a key run in the fourth, Gooden made a mid-range jump shot, converted a difficult layup through contact in the lane, drew a charge on Mason Plumlee and gave the Wizards the lead at 87-86 on another mid-range jumper.
The teams traded the lead for a few minutes until Gooden nailed a three-pointer with the shot clock winding down to put the Wizards ahead for good at 97-94 with 2:37 remaining.
Beal made his first two shots, both three-pointers, and John Wall kept the Wizards close in the first half as he continued his torrid three-point shooting to help salvage a critical week. After making two threes in the last 65 seconds to bring the Wizards from behind to win at the Orlando Magic on Friday, Wall went 4-for-6 beyond the arc, 10-for-15 overall, for the second game in a row and finished with a game-high 33 points, six assists, four rebounds and two steals.
Just as significant was Wall's defense on Deron Williams. He had 12 points on 4-for-9 shooting in the first half but missed all five of his field-goal attempts in the second half.
After losing at home to the Charlotte Bobcats to begin the week, the Wizards easily could've gone 0-3 and plummeted in the standings. Instead, they're in firm position with a favorable road trip ahead.
Turning point: After Thornton's three-point shot to open the fourth quarter put Brooklyn ahead 82-72, the Wizards went on a 11-2 run with the second unit of Andre Miller, Webster, Al Harrington and Gooden on the floor with Beal.
Key stat: The Nets were held with a field goal for the last 6:22, with Thornton's runner to give them a 91-87 lead being the final one.
Playing time: Despite a sore ankle, Beal played 37 minutes and had 15 points on 6-for-14 shooting and five assists. ... After playing for the first time in eight games Friday, Kevin Seraphin didn't log any time. Neither did Otto Porter, Chris Singleton or Garrett Temple.
From the locker room: "The fans in the building were electric all night which was good. Our guys played off of that and it was an intense game. There is no question about that. ... Drew, Andre and (Al Harrington) changed the tone of the game when they went in. Their physicality bled onto the other guys. That is what guys like them can do. They've been in games like this and not a lot of fouls called." -- Wittman
"With Brooklyn playing great and Charlotte right there behind us, we know that you can't get on a slump and start losing games. ... The reason we won the game was not that we were making a lot of shots. We locked down defensively." -- Wall
"It's definitely a statement game. You call that a statement game when (you see) these teams you possibly could see during the playoffs. So you want to handle your business during the regular season. If we see them during the playoffs, they'll definitely be on their toes." -- Gooden
"It was holding up and it wasn't hurting tonight. I'm glad and fortunate for that. I'm going to continue to take care of it and move forward." -- Beal on his ankle
"They have a very good point guard. It starts with him. He puts a lot of pressure on you on the offensive end and defensive end." -- Nets coach Jason Kidd on Wall
"We need to do a better job guarding (Wall) and not let him get to the line so many times. They just got a lot of weapons and they are still missing Nene. Once they get him back, they will be even better." -- Williams
"John Wall has matured as a player ... taking on more responsibility, becoming a leader for that ballclub. That is what the Washington Wizards have been waiting on and you are seeing it." -- Nets F Paul Pierce
Up next: The Wizards will be off Sunday and leave early Monday for a four-game road trip that starts Tuesday at the Sacramento Kings (CSN+, 10 p.m. ET).