The big men took over the game early and often, with Nene and Anthony Davis butting heads to spark what was otherwise bad offense on both ends. In the end, it was the play-making of John Wall that clinched the victory for the the Wizards as they won their second in a row in the first game of a back-to-back set with a chance to get back to .500 with Saturday's triumph in front of 18,385 at Verizon Center.
Nene made 13 of 19 shots for to tie a career high with 30 points, seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks, including the game-winner with less than one second left. The Wizards (27-28) also were sparked by center Marcin Gortat, who had 16 points and a team-high 10 rebounds. The backcourt of Wall and Bradley Beal never was in sync as they combined to shoot 8-for-22 for 21 points.
Davis was the leading scorer for New Orleans (23-32) with 26 points, 14 of them coming in the first half when the score was tied at 43. It was tied at 66 entering the fourth.
Up 91-90 with the shot-clock winding down, Davis took a mid-range shot over Nene and few the foul with seconds left. He made both free throws for what appeared to be the winning margin. But Wall and Nene weren't finished.
Turning point: With the Wizards down 89-85 with less than three minutes left, Wall had a transition layup off a turnover and then fed Gortat in transition for a lay to tie the score at 2:08 to give his team a chance. Then on the game's final play, down by a point, Wall broke down Brian Roberts off the dribble, drew the help defense of Jeff Withey and laid off the pass to Nene who dunked it at the buzzer. Wall had five turnovers, but finished with 10 points and 12 assists.
Key stat: The Pelicans were held without a field goal for the last 5:15 ahead 87-84. Their last six points came on free throws from Roberts, Eric Gordon and Davis.
Miller time: In his first action since being acquired in a trade Thursday, Andre Miller came in for Wall to play eight minutes. He made two free throws and racked up two assists, including an interior pass to Kevin Seraphin for a dunk in the second quarter. Miller finished with five points, three rebounds and three assists. The last dish came on a quick outlet to Beal for a dunk in the fourth quarter to keep the Wizards close.
Cameo: Al Harrington saw his first action since Nov. 12 because of a sore right knee that later required surgery, but it only lasted 33 seconds in the second quarter. He was sent in for the last possession before halftime and was spotting up near the baseline but Wall couldn't get him the pass because he was fouled on the drive. Harrington never returned.
From the locker room: "John, he did amazing penetration right there, found me right there. It was an amazing victory." -- Nene
"I wanted to shoot the jump shot, but I knew he was playing it so I got the opportunity to get behind him and I saw Anthony Davis come and I was going to try to wrap around towards Marcin, but Withey came at the same time. I just saw Nene right there and that was the easiest, safest pass and luckily he got it off in time." -- Wall
"We finally got into the game into the second half. I told the guys, 'Whatever routine you guys are doing here at home has to change.' We had no emotion in that first half. ... We got into it and showed some emotion in the second half, played with some feeling and desire. That was the difference." -- Wizards coach Randy Wittman
"That one hurt. There's no other way to put it. It just hurt. To do all that we did in that game, all the lead changes and have it right there, it just hurts. Our guys are really stinging over that one because we felt like we did enough to win. ... (Wall) broke us down and your natural reaction is to go help. We could make up all kinds of reasons why that happened." -- Pelicans coach Monty Williams
Up next: The Wizards left immediately after the game for Cleveland, where they'll play the Cavaliers on Sunday (CSN, 6 p.m. ET).