Wake-up call: Nene takes lumps in low post

Wake-up call: Nene takes lumps in low post
November 25, 2013, 8:00 am
Share This Post

John Wall's taking what the defense gives him

Washington Wizards power forward Nene Hilario (42) holds the ball as New York Knicks shooting guard J.R. Smith (8) and Knicks power forward Kenyon Martin (3) defend in the second quarter at Verizon Center.

(Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

The last two games have taken a toll on Nene, particularly the Wizards' latest stretch of four in five days. The way he sees it, opposing teams are simply trying to rough him up. 

The Wizards (5-8) had just put away the New York Knicks on Saturday night, and Nene, who missed two games when the season began because of a left calf strain, lamented that he has become a marked man. Disrupt him, and beat the Wizards.

"I heard coaches say in Toronto, from the sideline, go at me ... take me down," Nene said about the Wizards' last loss that came Friday. "It's not about basketball. It's about knocking around. Man, it's hard. I get the worst of it."

[RELATED: Wizards could play through Nene in a pinch]

Gortat can benefit even though he's the center. He usually draws the less physical defender. The Wizards run a lot of their offense through Nene, who is the starting power forward. 

When the Wizards almost blew a 27-point lead to the Cleveland Cavaliers last week, in the crunch they ran the offense through Nene who made key passes out of the low post to seal that victory.

So while Nene only had eight points vs. the Knicks and 10 at the Toronto Raptors, Gortat had his best game in Washington with 16 points and a season-high 17 rebounds against New York. 

“For some reason, they are putting the bigger guy on Nene, so I’m going to get a little puppy on me and I’m going to get rebounds and easy points," Gortat said.

[RELATED: Nene apologizes for remarks]

The result has been three wins in their last four games. The Wizards opened the season by losing seven of their first nine, Nene became agitated and called out the younger players on the roster. He quickly recanted and a players-only meeting ensued. He likes the direction they're heading now. 

"The last four games, our communication got better. That's the reason we started to play better. Play simple. Play hard," Nene said. "Bad things sometimes need to happen for our good. Sometimes when you see the truth you go straight. A mistake, you fix. All the things we've been through, the team has played so much better. We've play the right way. That's a good thing."