The Washington Wizards were missing a few more bodies tonight, but that didn't stop them from winning a tight game in Cleveland 99-95. Playing without John Wall, Nene, Emeka Okafor, Trevor Booker, and Chris Singleton, the Wizards also lost Kevin Seraphin midway through the first quarter to a calf strain. The health of pretty much the entire Wizards frontcourt has made it difficult for the team to find a suitable replacement for Wall at point guard, but there was still a lot to take away from the team's first win of the preseason.
Bradley Beal: This kid just continues to impress and impress. He can create contact, he can catch and shoot, he can DUNK, and he can initiate an offense. He shot 50% tonight and finished with 14 points.
Jan Vesely: After a quick two fouls in the first quarter, Vesely finally started to look comfortable on both ends of the floor. He finished a couple of looks at the rim (he finished 5-5 with 13 points!), and he also managed to do the dirty work that doesn't show up on the stat sheet: a couple of pass deflections and a great drawn charge in the 4th on Tyler Zeller. Sort of bizarre to think that he was the longest-tenured active big on the Wizards tonight.
Shelvin Mack and AJ Price: Between the two of them, they had 16 points, 4 assists, and 0 turnovers. They're no Wall, but they're looking decent enough to serve as replacements until he gets back.
Jordan Crawford: 14 points and 7 assists! Nice to see he's helping take on Wall's passing load as well.
Brian Cook: Sometimes you see Cook shoot threes all the time, and it makes you wonder what he's thinking. But tonight, he hit a huge three with a minute to go in the 4th.
Martell Webster: He started the game, but he lacked a lot of the energy he had been bringing off the bench the previous two games. He finished the game with 7 points and a game-low +/- of -11. Yikes.
Jannero Pargo: Six turnovers. Not good.
Shavlik Randolph: He was definitely trying to carve a place for himself on this roster tonight. He finished with 5 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 fouls. With all the bigs down for the count, he'll need to play a bit better to reach his goal. But his activity around the basket was a good place to start.
Trevor Ariza: He had a better game than the previous two, finishing with 7 points and 5 rebounds. But he continues to look a little lost and listless out there. Hopefully he'll get more fired up when the regular season starts.
- Beal, Webster, and Pargo got the start over Crawford, Ariza, and Price
- Beal and Dion Waiters were drafted 3rd and 4th overall, respectively; both are SGs. Both got their first start tonight.
- In the first quarter, Cook cut to the basket for a quick layup, with an assist from Pargo. That was the most un-Brian Cook play ever.
- For most of the second quarter, the four bigs on the floor were Tyler Zeller, Jon Leuer, Shavlik Randolph, and Jan Vesely. Weird.
- Former Wizard and D-Leaguer Alonzo Gee continues to look like "the one that got away," especially when Trevor Ariza looks like he can't find his rhythm.
- The team ran a few 3-guard lineups tonight. Beal and Crawford were paired with Price for a stretch of time and Mack for a later stretch. Interesting to see if that will be featured during the season. I couldn't gather any conclusive results from it, but I do like it in general when Beal is on the floor.
- The second possession of the 3rd quarter featured Beal guarding Waiters. Waiters tried to thread the needle to CJ Miles under the basket, and Beal managed a nice deflection. The possession ended with Waiters chucking up an air ball as the shot clock ran out.