After much anticipation, the Washington Wizards failed to close out their first preseason victory at home and ultimately fell to the new look Brooklyn Nets in overtime. Here are the Bullet Points:
- With Emeka Okafor out indefinitely, Wizards head coach Randy Wittman opted to start Jan Vesely at power forward, while sliding Nene over to center. Although he ended up fouling out in overtime, Vesely did grab 12 rebounds in just 28 minutes of playing time. It’s obvious that Vesely won’t be able to play many minutes consistently since he still picks up fouls at a ridiculous rate, but he did contribute on the boards. All in all, Vesely looked pretty good but he didn’t make up for Okafor’s absence.
- Aside from the debut of both Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett on the Nets side, the John Wall/Bradley Beal combination was probably the biggest storyline heading into the exhibition. Wall looked very aggressive from the start, knocking down about 3 jump shots without hesitation. Wall scored 7 points to go along side 5 assists in just the first 7 minutes of action. He finished with 16 points and 8 assists, but most importantly, he looked confident in everything he did on the floor. Bradley Beal complemented him with 11 points. Unlike this past season, Beal looked assertive and even shot the majority of his jumpers off the dribble. His handle looked a lot tighter, since he was able to create offense for himself without depending on John Wall. Overall, both guards looked terrific, especially during the start of the game. Even though they weren’t lights out from the field, their improvement was definitely noticeable.
- Without Emeka Okafor, the Wizards will undoubtedly rely on Nene a bit more than expected, but he did not disappoint. Ted Leonsis and the rest of Washington’s brass gloated about his improved health during this offseason, and it certainly showed in his mobility. Besides an ill-advised turn around, Nene hit every mid range shot he took, which we didn’t get to see this past season. He even dunked the ball multiple times in traffic, so his rejuvenated health was definitely noted. Wittman decided to play Nene over 20 minutes tonight, which isn’t necessarily smart considering his issues in the past. Hopefully we’ll get to see less of Nene in the future. Longevity is key to Washington’s success, and I don’t want anything unnecessary to happen to Nene as a result of carelessness.
- As far as I’m concerned, this was the play of the game: Al Harrington pulls the chair on Andray Baltche (yes, I still refuse to spell his name correctly.)
- Washington had a chance to experiment with some of their new additions, but it didn’t go quite as expected. Harrington scored 9 points off the bench, and in my opinion, he looked terrific. I was concerned about his health after Wittman stated that he wasn’t in shape yet, but he looked great tonight. One thing is for certain: Harrington isn’t scared to shoot the ball, and he’s exactly the type of player the Wizards needed off the bench. On the flip side, Washington’s newly acquired backup point guard, Eric Maynor, looked awful. He made just 1 of his 7 shot attempts, and turned the ball over 3 times. I don’t want to write him off yet, but tonight’s performance didn’t help.
- The Wizards looked pretty good offensively with the starters in the game, but once John Wall, Bradley Beal and Nene were off the floor, it was tough to watch. Thankfully for Washington, they may have found a gem in Glen Rice Jr. Rice is known for his ability to score the ball, so I expected him to help the Wizards on the offensive side of the floor, but he looked great defensively. He scored the ball at will, but the highlight of the night came when Rice slammed down a putback dunk to advance the Wizards to overtime. Maynor couldn’t get a good shot off at the buzzer, but Rice came out of nowhere to everyone’s surprise, but the Wizards couldn’t close the game out.
- The box score.
It’s not a win, but at the end of the day, it’s preseason basketball.
The Wizards won’t play their next game until Saturday night against the Chicago Bulls, as they head to Brazil right after tonight’s loss.