Wizards effort not enough
One day after blowing through the red light on Nene's minutes count, Wizards coach Randy Wittman said he expects the power forward to play Monday when winless Washington hosts San Antonio.
Wittman also revealed the decision to keep playing Nene beyond the pre-determined 20-minute limit came from Nene himself.
The Wizards coach said "everybody" practiced on Sunday following the 108-106 double-overtime loss to the Bobcats though Nene was not seen in his practice jersey when the final minutes of the session were made available to the media. Instead he wore a red t-shirt, same as the one sported by John Wall, who remains sidelined with a knee stress injury.
In his home debut, Nene played 29 minutes against Charlotte including all but five seconds of the two extra sessions, scoring 19 points on 8 of 13 shooting in a game the Wizards collectively shot 36.6 percent.
Asked about Nene's potential availability against the Spurs, Wittman curtly responded, "Yeah I plan on him playing. He didn't get hurt. I don't know where the line of questioning is. He played the game. He's playing."
The 30-year-old returned to action Wednesday in Atlanta after missing Washington's first nine games with plantar fasciitis in his left foot. Nene reaggrevated the injury in early August during the London Olympics, only recently returning to practice.
The Wizards trailed the Bobcats by double figures in the first and third quarter. In both cases Washington rallied to take the lead with Nene spearheading the rallies coming off the bench. His plus-minus tally, a robust plus-22. Regardless, the Wizards ultimately fell to 0-11.
Despite Wednesday's contest against the Hawks going into overtime and the team clearly benefitting from the Brazilian big man's presence, the veteran forward did not play during the final five minutes. Atlanta's Kyle Korver hit a 3-pointer with 1.9 seconds left, sinking Washington 101-100 as an apparent game-winning tip-in by Martell Webster came a tick after the final buzzer.
Two days later Wittman said of Nene's usage, "I've got to be careful. It's hard. The impact he has on our team and how he helps our other players especially from an offense standpoint, we've got to be smart too."
During his pregame press conference before Saturday's game, the coach reiterated that a minutes count remained in play.
Fast forward to Sunday afternoon. Asked why Nene played extended minutes one game but not the other, Wittman responded.
"This is on him. I can't judge his pain, what kind of pain, if he's having pain. I'm leaving that on him. Atlanta was a different situation that it was here in terms of his mind...This has got to be his kind of terms. Is he feeling tight, is he feeling soreness. Is he feeling it being fatigued and those are questions only he can answer.
"When he does it's being let known and then I've got to make a substitution. Last night was different. He said he felt fine and wanted to continue on. I give him credit. He fought down to the wire trying to get us a win."
Still working on his conditioning, Nene made 3 of 6 field goal attempts in the overtimes, but did not grab a rebound.
The Tim Duncan-led Spurs (11-3) will enter D.C. having played their own double-overtime game on Sunday, coming away with a 111-106 win at Toronto. The 36-year-old Duncan scored 26 points in 41 minutes while Tony Parker played 46 minutes and finished with 32 points.
In 26 career games against the Spurs including 19 starts, Nene is averaging 10.5 points and 5.8 rebounds.