Wizards learn to adjust, win minus bigs

Wizards learn to adjust, win minus bigs
October 19, 2013, 11:30 am
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J. Michael has an update on John Wall's new fashion trend

(Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports)

For Nene to be absent isn't all that unusual for the Wizards.

The big man sat out 21 games last season and admits he's still not at full strength because of a sore left foot and knees.

But with Emeka Okafor (herniated disk) out indefinitely, losing Nene for any stretch of time only makes it more difficult for the Wizards to go from a 29-win season to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

Or does it? John Wall, who missed the first 33 games last season with a knee injury, is trying to see the glass is half-full. They beat the Miami Heat 100-82 on Tuesday and lost to the New York Knicks 98-89 on Thursday.

Both games were without Nene. And they didn't get out-rebounded in either (Nene will play Saturday vs. the New Orleans Pelicans in Lexington, Ky.).

"I've missed him the last few games but  … it gives us the opportunity (to find out) what you might have to do, how you might have to play if he's injured or if he might be sick or something or in foul trouble," Wall said. "The main thing is having competition with Jan (Vesely) and Kevin (Seraphin) playing. It's always a big plus.

"We miss Emeka with what he does on the defensive end, blocking shots, rebounding. It's an opportunity for guys to step up, and we got to step up as a team and pick up the good things he did defensively."

The Wizards accomplished those things in their only preseason victory. The Heat played hard and had LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh playing 24-26 minutes. They shot 13-for-29, but overall the Heat went 29-for-75 for 38.7%. That included 8-for-30 three-point shooting, or 26.7%. The Wizards also forced them into 25 turnovers. 

Conversely, the Knicks made 37 of 80 shots, 46.2%, including 11 of 25 threes for 44%. They limited their turnovers to 15. 

The words of majority owner Ted Leonsis have been taken to heart. Last season, injuries were used as an excuse for the Wizards not delivering. 

This season, the Wizards are determined to be stronger because of it. The Chicago Bulls had a litany of misfortune, too, and without Derrick Rose they still finished with 44 wins and a No. 5 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. 

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