It's the time of year when NBA teams that know they're headed for the draft lottery might not be putting in their best effort. With no postseason on the horizon, a few more losses could garner a few more pingpong balls and a higher pick.
The Wizards (16-46), however, haven't given up trying to be competitive. Wednesday's 121-112 victory over Milwaukee not only made a significant dent in the Bucks' playoff push, it gave Washington its fourth win in the last six games.
"They show what we capable to do," center Nene said. "I hope next season we start doing the thing early, play hard, play together, play deep."
|Wizards at Heat|
|When » Saturday, 7:30 p.m.|
|Where » AmericanAirlines Arena,|
|TV » CSN|
The veteran Brazilian big man, who returned after missing the previous 10 games with plantar fasciitis, said he was inspired simply by the chance to get the Wizards' first win in four tries against the Bucks.
"We want to be Milwaukee. We want to be in the hunt," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of the chance to play spoiler. "If we're not, let's cause some grief. It makes it meaningful, and these guys have really stood up to it. That's a credit to them."
The Wizards have little chance of changing their own place in the final standings. Even if Washington wins its final four games, it is all but assured of having the second-worst record in the league. The end result will be the second-best chance of winning the lottery May 30 and a guaranteed top-five pick in the June 28 draft. Only the top three spots in the draft are determined by the lottery.
In the meantime, Washington players are trying to make strides and prepare themselves for the offseason. Nene, who had 14 points and four rebounds against the Bucks, said he will join the Brazilian national team for training camp on June 10 ahead of the Summer Olympics. Brazil will play Team USA at Verizon Center on July 16.
Many of those on the Wizards' roster -- current players and those who get selected in the draft -- will play in the summer league, which will return after it was a casualty of the lockout last year. The Wizards have been to Las Vegas every year the league has been in existence.
It's easier for Washington to consider its positive play and results over the final stretch as a step in that direction rather than dwelling on missing out on the playoffs for the fourth straight year.
"You don't just want to end your season early, go home and rest and wait for next season," guard John Wall said. "It's just giving us great motivation to see how good we can be, preparing ourselves to come back and be ready for next year."