WASHINGTON -- Friday was one of those nights when the shots weren't falling for Washington Wizards forward Trevor Ariza, so he turned to defense to keep himself engaged in the game until his stroke returned.
Thankfully for Washington, Ariza found his shot just in time in a 112-108 overtime victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
Trailing by one point in overtime, the Nets defense collapsed on Wizards forward Nene, leaving Ariza wide open from the perimeter. And even though he was 1-for-7 from the floor, he hoisted the 3-pointer without hesitation, nailing it with 40.3 seconds left to give Washington the lead for good in a wild victory.
"If I'm open I'm going to shoot it," Ariza said. "Every night is not going to be a good night, but I stuck with it and my teammates had the confidence to pass me the ball, so when I got it, I didn't think twice."
Brooklyn coach Jason Kidd lamented the fact that the game even went to an extra period. The Nets led 92-81 with 4:21 remaining, but Nene scored seven straight points late to help draw the teams even, including a critical tip-in with 1.2 seconds left to tie the score at 99-99.
"I think we can look at just one play," Kidd said. "If we could have gotten a rebound after (guard John) Wall missed that shot, that kind of ends the game. We've been in some close games early and we just have to get better at it."
Nene scored 12 of his 20 points in the fourth to help the Wizards get to overtime, and in the extra frame, his energy resulted in a steal and bad shots from Brooklyn.
"He's so important to us, not just (in) points and stat sheets," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "His presence on the floor goes a long way. Both offensively and defensively."
In overtime, Washington (2-3) built a 105-101 lead, only to see the Nets grab a 106-105 advantage on a 3-pointer by guard Deron Williams with 2:14 left.
Both teams struggled to score until Ariza hit Washington's 10th 3-pointer of the evening. Guards Wall and Bradley Beal each added two free throws to seal the victory in a game that each team seemed to have in hand at some point.
"We just showed that we could compete and play with anybody," said Beal, who tied a career-high with 29 points.
It was an off night for Brooklyn guard Paul Pierce and forward Kevin Garnett, who combined to score seven points on 3-of-16 shooting from the field. Garnett did not score his first point until 3:40 remained in the game and Pierce did not dent the scoreboard until 2:50 of overtime, in part due to Ariza's solid defense.
"We just played aggressive today," Ariza said. "I don't think (Pierce) got any open looks."
Even without their contributions, Brooklyn took a 58-53 lead into the third quarter thanks to 18 first-half points from center Brook Lopez, who dominated the paint early with an array of nifty moves against Washington's overmatched post players.
The Wizards stormed back to open the second half, going on an 18-4 run to pull ahead 71-62 late in the quarter with help from the backcourt combo of Beal and Wall.
Guard Joe Johnson scored nine of his 16 points in the third quarter to rally Brooklyn, which has lost all three road games this season.
"I don't know (what's wrong)," he said. "If I had an answer, I'd tell you. It's a little mind-boggling, but hey, we'll figure it out."
NOTES: The Nets play Saturday against Indiana, their first back-to-back games of the season. Coach Jason Kidd has been careful about parsing his team's minutes, but still wasn't ready to say whether Kevin Garnett will play against the Pacers. "The big thing is we are a deep team and the process is to try and keep the minutes down as much as we can in this marathon," Kidd said. ... Washington leads the NBA in 3-point attempts and makes, but Wizards coach Randy Wittman wasn't ready to proclaim his team a consistent long-range threat. "Teams aren't always going to let you do that," he said. ... Nets F Andray Blatche, who spent seven seasons with Washington, was booed every time he touched the ball. ... Both teams' starters dealt with nagging injuries. Pierce started despite an undisclosed illness but was held scoreless in the first half. Wall played despite back spasms.