WASHINGTON, D.C. – Deron Williams and the Nets' season have something in common: they may be just about over.
It was doubtful the Nets would play beyond the April 13th regular-season finale anyway. Now there’s question as to whether Williams will play in April. He may already have played his last game.
Before the Nets’ crushing 98-92 loss to the Wizards on Sunday afternoon they announced Williams would miss “a minimum of” three games due to his strained right wrist. ‘A minimum of’ are the key words.
Williams is a fierce competitor who wants to play and help his team win games. But if the Nets continue to lose the way they have the last couple of games, there really is no reason for Williams to play again, not with his wrist bothering him physically and affecting him mentally.
This was the Nets' third straight loss and dropped them seven games behind eighth-place Indiana with 14 to go. Their odds of making the playoffs are very slim. They need a near miracle as they have to jump over four teams to make it and need to get out of their own way to do that.
The Nets have reverted back to some of their old ways lately. They followed up a really bad defensive performance in Milwaukee with perhaps their worst loss of the season in D.C.
That’s a tough call because the Nets have had plenty of bad defeats, including their previous one in this building and a 30-point lambasting to the Pacers.
But the Nets were up in this game 59-43 early in the second half. They were rolling against one of the worst teams in the NBA and they completely and utterly fell apart.
“I guess we just got complacent,” Brook Lopez said. “I did a little. Once we realized what was going on, it was definitely too late.”
“We went from playing some of our best basketball we’ve played in a long time to some of our worst basketball we’ve played in a long time,” said Jordan Farmar, who fit both descriptions himself.
Farmar had a career-high 17-assist night, but struggled containing John Wall, made a couple of costly turnovers and couldn’t get the Nets in their offense or a good shot when they needed to stop Washington’s runs.
It wasn’t just Farmar. It was a collectively bad effort, as you would expect when a team is outscored 32-9 over a 12:28 stretch between the third and fourth quarters.
“We just couldn’t execute,” Nets coach Avery Johnson said. “We couldn’t even get into our plays. I told our players this loss was really painful. That’s the one word I used with our team, just painful. I’m really disappointed with our effort especially in the second half.”
The Nets made a run themselves, erasing a seven-point Wizards’ lead and taking an 83-81 lead on a Farmar layup. After falling behind by six, they came back again to tie it 90-90 on a Farmar-to-Kris Humphries’ alley-oop dunk with 1:44 left.
From there, Wall and the Wizards executed much better than the Nets.
Wall sandwiched a steal between two jump shots that gave the Wizards a 94-90 lead with 46.8 seconds left. Then, the final insult came when former Net Yi Jianlian stole the ball from Farmar, was fouled and made both free throws to make it a six-point game and another stinging loss for New Jersey.
“It’s definitely very frustrating,” Farmar said. “We’re not happy right now. It’s not a good feeling for the guys in the locker room.”
Williams isn’t feeling great either – for many reasons.
He hates losing. He hates watching games and not being able to play. But when he plays he hates not playing up to his usual superstar level. He hasn’t been lately because of his wrist.
The Nets don’t want to make any final calls on Williams at this point and say he’s done for the season. He said he could play again but he isn’t sure.
“I don’t know,” Williams said. “I’m going to see how it feels and who knows? I hate sitting out. It’s a strong possibility.”
Williams is going to be re-evaluated before the Nets play Friday in Orlando. It’s hard to imagine much will change in that time because he needs at least four weeks for it to get better.
One thing that could change is the Nets’ place in the standings. If they dip further, not even Williams could save them. It’s looking bleak as it is. The same may be said for Williams playing again this season.
Follow me on Twitter: @Al_Iannazzone
Al Iannazzone covers the Nets for The Record (Bergen County, N.J.)