Several injuries have paved the way for some of the Washington Wizards’ younger players to showcase their abilities.
Their impressive play, however, hasn’t translated into much team success.
Nick Young(notes), leading Washington (16-51) with 17.7 points per game, has been hindered by a bruised left knee and has missed two straight games. Andray Blatche(notes), averaging 15.9 points and 7.9 rebounds, was unavailable for the last four with a strained right shoulder.
While Crawford had 25 points Friday night, Booker had a breakout performance as he scored a season-best 26 and matched a season high with 13 rebounds in a 116-107 loss at Toronto - Washington’s sixth consecutive defeat.
“He’s great. A very athletic person who can rebound,” fellow rookie John Wall(notes) said of Booker, who was 12 of 15 from the field. “He’s showing that he can score around the basket and finish, so guys are getting out of his way.”
Booker is averaging 13.8 points and 9.0 boards - well over double his season averages - since replacing Blatche in the starting lineup.
Crawford, acquired from Atlanta prior to the trade deadline, has averaged 26.0 points in two starts following Young’s injury. He’s scored 20.4 per game over the last five, nearly triple his season average.
Wall, the No. 1 overall pick, is averaging 18.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 6.8 assists during the Wizards’ six-game skid.
“They’re picking up quality time in heat-of-the-battle game situations,” Saunders said of the three rookies. “It’s not where a game’s out of hand and you throw on a rookie the last couple of minutes. It’s going to help them come next year.”
Blatche and Young are uncertain to play in this game.
The Nets (22-45), losers of 26 of 28 on the road, had won a season-best five straight before losing back-to-back games - including a 110-95 defeat at Milwaukee on Friday night.
Williams, who sat out four games Jan. 28-Feb. 2 while with Utah due to a strained wrist tendon, aggravated that injury Friday but stayed in the game.
“We’re very concerned and it’s something we’re going to have a deep discussion about,” coach Avery Johnson said. “We were going to leave him out, but he wanted to go back in. I don’t think we can continue every game at this rate.”
Williams is averaging 13.0 points - 7.4 less than his season mark - on 25.0 percent shooting in his last three games.
“I need to rest. Until I do that, it’s going to hurt and I’m going to continue to be frustrated. It’s affecting me mentally now, too,” Williams said. “I love playing basketball. I hate sitting out more than anybody. It’s tough for me because I don’t want to just sit out, but it might be the best thing. We’ll see.”
New Jersey, which has dropped three straight at the Verizon Center by an average of 16.4 points, has lost six of seven overall in the series.
The Wizards, losers of 13 of 14 overall, have been outscored by 15.4 per game during a 1-8 stretch at home.