WASHINGTON — The Nets’ best defensive play Wednesday night came not on the field, but off the bench — from a coach.
In the fourth quarter of the Nets’ 119-118 win over the Wizards, assistant David Vanterpool caused a turnaround by reaching downfield and deflecting a pass from former Net Spencer Dinwiddie.
With 5:42 left in the fourth quarter and the Nets leading 109-103, Dinwiddie passed to Kyle Kuzma in the left corner in front of the visitor’s bench. Vanterpool reached out and appeared to kick the ball in and deflect the pass.
The officials missed it and Kessler Edwards got the ball back for a steal on a play that probably should have been a Washington side and maybe a technical one.
Kuzma could be seen pointing towards Vanterpool, and eventually he took a foul so he could yell at the referee. It didn’t help.
Ben Taylor, team leader of game officials, was asked by a pool reporter if there would have been a way to examine the deflection – which Taylor admitted was not seen by any of the officials.
“No,” Taylor said, “there was no mechanism in place for that.”
Wizards’ interim coach Joseph Blair was miffed when asked if Vanterpool could have touched the ball and what his reaction was to not being called.
“You asked me if he had touched it. There is no possibility: he did it,” Blair said. “My reaction was complete disbelief. I haven’t seen anything like this in basketball in a very long time that the referees haven’t seen.”
Centers LaMarcus Aldridge and Day’Ron Sharpe had 41 points (16-for-21 shooting, 9-for-9 from the free-throw line), 12 rebounds, five assists, three blocks and no turnovers in 48 minutes. Aldridge had a season-high 27 points.
Joe Harris (ankle surgery), DeAndre’ Bembry (back spasms) and Paul Millsap (personal reasons) were all absent. Bembry had been questionable before being scratched.
“[He] was hopeful to play and it just seems a bit labored because of it or held back by it. It might be a wise move just to make sure you try to get through it with a few more days,” said coach Steve Nash, who made no commitment about Bembry playing Friday in San Antonio.
“It’s day to day. So hopefully we’ll be in the same position and wake up on Friday, the Spurs game say hope to play, and hopefully by then he’ll be like, ‘Yeah, I’m ready’.… But if not, it will be the next game again. But it’s not like he needs a week off.
Nash said Millsap may not join the Nets on their current trip. The veteran big man missed eight straight games before making an appearance on January 13. He has been absent for personal reasons in all three games since. …Harris has started very light filming, but is still nowhere near high-intensity work.
The Nets improved to 16-5 on the road. … The Nets’ Feb. 10 game in Washington has been moved to 7:30 p.m. and will be televised by TNT.