Beal taking it slow as he works to come back
The fall of the Brooklyn Nets may have been greatly exaggerated, and look out because they're on a three-game winning streak entering Friday's game at the Detroit Pistons.
Deron Williams is back from an ankle injury, fresh off of crossing up Chris Paul with crossover dribbles, and now the Nets (8-14) are making noise in trade circles. They're close to brokering a deal with the Toronto Raptors that would bring them Kyle Lowry. That will give them a better option behind Williams, and makes the Nets even more viable in the long run in the Eastern Conference.
The Wizards (9-11) have blown a chance to put more distance between themselves and the Nets, having lost their last two games by narrow margins in overtime and the fourth quarter. They play Friday at the Atlanta Hawks and won't have Bradley Beal, Nene and Al Harrington because of injuries.
Or course, the Nets, who had Paul Pierce return recently from a broken right hand, lost Brook Lopez in Thursday's game to a left ankle sprain. But they're starting to move away from the spilled-drink debacle of first-year coach Jason Kidd and look respectable.
But keep in mind, the New York Knicks will have a say in where Lowry goes. They initially passed on a deal with the Raptors for Lowry that would've sent Raymond Felton, Metta World Peace and a 2018 first-round draft pick, but owner James Dolan will do anything to stop the Nets from getting an upper hand in that market.
That's good for the Raptors (7-13), who could leverage that spite from the Knicks (6-15) into getting a better deal. It's bad either way for the Wizards, who have a window to separate themselves from the sub-.500 pack but for every step they take forward they take two steps back. The Wizards travel to play the Knicks on Monday (CSN, 7:30) and the Nets on Wednesday (CSN, 7:30).
And given the way the reserves have played for the Wizards, they'd be doing backflips over Lowry as a backup to John Wall. Except, they don't have much trade bait.