WASHINGTON (AP)—Flip Saunders had seen enough.
“As I told our guys at halftime in a few choice words, ‘It was just a matter of playing hard,”’ Saunders said.
Wall scoring 14 of his 26 points after the break and the Wizards rallied for a 98-92 win over the New Jersey Nets on Sunday.
Washington outscored New Jersey 28-12 in the third quarter, but it wasn’t until Wall hit a jumper with 1:22 left and another with 46.5 to go that the Wizards had a rare comeback win.
The Wizards had lost six in a row, and with a five-game road trip beginning Tuesday, a loss would have been disheartening.
“I felt more confident today than at any other time of the season,” said Wall, who also had eight assists, six rebounds and four steals.
Saunders has been encouraging the rookie to shoot more especially because Washington is without four key veterans—Andray Blatche(notes), Josh Howard(notes), Rashard Lewis(notes) and Nick Young(notes).
“It’s starting to pay off. He’s confident,” Saunders said.
“We’ve lost games with John when he’s trying to make plays, but he’s not afraid to. If you want to be a great player in this league, you can’t be afraid to take the ball in your hands and try to make a play.”
Evans has seen lots of point guards in his seven-year NBA career, and since he arrived in a trade from Atlanta last month, he’s had fun playing with Wall.
“What’s most impressive from my perspective is he doesn’t really know how to play yet,” Evans said.
While the Wizards had fun in the second half, New Jersey most certainly didn’t.
The Nets have the NBA’s second-worst road record (4-29), but they thought they had a chance for a rare win against the team with the worst road mark— even without injured point guard Deron Williams(notes).
They led 56-39 just before the half. In the third quarter, they were overmatched.
Jordan Farmar(notes) started in place of Williams, who will miss at least three games because of an injured right wrist. He had a career-high 17 assists—11 in the first half—to help the Nets get their big lead.
“I told our players, ‘This loss was really painful,”’ New Jersey coach Avery Johnson said. “We were pretty good in the first half. In the second half, we weren’t very good.”
NOTES: Johnson said Williams’ wrist would be re-evaluated after he misses three games. “It’s something that we know, rest—not surgery—is required,” Johnson said. “We’ll treat him. We’ll rest him.” In the Nets’ locker room before the game, Williams said he was eager to play again this season. “I’m just getting a little rest and then re-evaluate it,” Williams said. “Maybe a couple of more games. It’s not really set in stone. I’ll just see how it feels.” … New Jersey signed G Sundiata Gaines(notes) for this season and next. He will back up Farmar in Williams’ absence. … Humphries had his 10th straight double-double. … McGee was 8 for 9 from the field.