Nene works his magic as Wizards regain No. 6 seed

Nene works his magic as Wizards regain No. 6 seed
April 11, 2014, 9:30 pm
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Needing an easy mark to bounce back from a disappointing loss earlier in the week, the Wizards had what appeared to be an easy mark with the Orlando Magic but it was anything but that. Nene came off the bench to score 17 points in his second game back from a left knee injury to spark his team, which trailed by 14 in the second quarter, to a 96-86 victory Friday night.

Perhaps just as important, the Wizards (41-38) moved back into the No. 6 seed in the East with three games left after the Charlotte Bobcats (40-39) lost at the Boston Celtics 106-103 later Friday. The Bobcats won in Washington in overtime Wednesday to even their records and secure the first tie-breaker edge because of the better head-to-head record. The No. 7 seed will have to face the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers in the first round. 

Trevor Booker, still starting in Nene's place at power forward, had another strong outing with 14 points on 7-for-10 shooting. Nene made 7 of 11 shots. Bradley Beal had 16 points and three steals, Marcin Gortat 12 points and six rebounds and John Wall had 10 points, 12 assists and five rebounds. 

The win gave Washington its first season sweep of Orlando (23-56), winning all four meetings, since 1989-90 and ended a two-game losing streak. 

Turning point: After trailing by six at halftime, the Wizards pulled away with 9-0 run in the waning minutes for a 92-82 lead. The Magic only scored 35 points in the second half. 

Key stats: The Wizards made 33 trips to the foul line. They missed nine of them with seven misfires between Beal and Nene. ... Missed 17 of 19 three-point shots. 

Lineup juggling: Rather than Beal beginning the second quarter with the second unit, coach Randy Wittman had all reserves Andre Miller, Otto Porter, Martell Webster, Al Harrington and Nene. Beal re-entered for Webster and that unit quickly erased a 32-18 deficit. Harrington didn't play in the previous game but logged 17 minutes this time. Drew Gooden was the odd man out of the rotation. Miller fouled out in just 11 minutes with four assists. Porter and Harrington each had nine points and nine rebounds. Porter's 26 minutes are a career-high. 

From the locker room: "It's great to win a game like this. I don't think anybody shot the ball well. I think we shot like 10 percent from the 3-point line so it was definitely a great defensive effort by us. They got up early again on us, but I think we did a great job of sticking with it defensively and that's what won the game." -- Beal 

"I thought he went in there in the first half and gave us a big spark, so I went with him in the second." -- Wittman on Porter

Up next: The Wizards returned to D.C. after the game and will play vs. the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday at Verizon Center, their final back-to-back set of the season (CSN, 7 p.m. ET). 

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