With Trevor Ariza and Jan Vesely inserted in the starting lineup, the Washington Wizards starting unit went toe to toe with the Brooklyn Nets for the first half and executed their offense adequately. However much of the concerns over the second unit last year carried over to tonight, as the move to bring Martell Webster off the bench, along with newcomer Eric Maynor, proved to be futile. The Wizards dug themselves out of a hole after a rough third quarter and forced overtime thanks to a ridiculous Glen Rice Jr. dunk, but ultimately fell, 111-106.
The turnovers began to pile up in the second half, and soon enough, Brooklyn built a double-digit lead. Randy Wittman continued to play his starters and key cogs for much of the fourth quarter against Brooklyn's reserves, and Washington understandably fought their way back into the contest. After both teams traded baskets down the stretch, Maynor hit a miracle floater in the lane with the foul to tie the game. Washington then forced a steal out of the timeout, got the ball up court to a streaking Garrett Temple along the wing, but he got blocked out of nowhere. After intentionally fouling, Wizards had one more chance to score, and Rice Jr came flying in off a Maynor miss for the put-back dunk to take the game into overtime.
However, the Wizards offense fell back into their third-quarter funk and had no response to Brooklyn's execution on offense in overtime.
Here are my game notes, in chronological order:
- Brooklyn came out of the gates strong, scoring with relative ease and finding the Wizards defenses over helping one pass away a few times. Nene got caught out of position on a Joe Johnson/Brook Lopez pick and roll, leaving Lopez a clear path to the basket along the baseline. Jan Vesely did the same thing a little later in the first by overhelping on Andrei Kirileinko, which resulted in an easy Andray Blatche score at the rim.
- The biggest takeaway so far has been John Wall's ability to fight over screens, which isn't an easy task with Kevin Garnett on the floor. He hasn't taken any shortcuts, and he looks noticeably stronger.
- Kevin Seraphin came in for Nene and struggled immediately. He got his jumper blocked off the pick and pop then failed to pull down a defensive rebound with both hands, which Andrei Kirileinko promptly ripped away and assisted on an easy fast-break layup. He has to cut down these mistakes and really focus on being a top rebounder on this team.
- Once Wall took a seat, the offense completely stagnated. The team ran a high pick and roll for Beal which resulted in a contested 19-footer. Then Maynor ran one from almost the same spot with Al Harrington popping out to the top of the key, but turned it over after getting caught in the middle of three Brooklyn defenders in the paint.
- Love the push by Maynor to get the ball to the corner for a Harrington three off the fastbreak. The shot was missed, but we'll see a lot of this from both point guards.
- Jan Vesely tried posting up Kevin Garnett.... Let's pretend that never happened.
- Again, the Wizards get caught helping one pass away. This time, it was on a Livingston post up at the high post that resulted in a Brook Lopez dunk.
- It's obviously early, but Brooklyn doesn't look like a team that hasn't played a game in five months. Beautiful interior passing, selfless basketball and a lot of shot makers. Wouldn't surprise me at all if Deron Williams reclaims his spot in the top-3 point guard discussion.
- Here's the one thing that scares me more than anything else in Wall's game: falling in love with the jumper out of the pick and roll. He took one as soon as he re-entered the game in the second quarter with 17 seconds left in the shot clock.
- Four fouls in the first half for Jan. No field goal attempts, no trips to the free throw line despite the Wizards getting into the bonus early in the first quarter, and some really poor box-outs on Garnett to boot.
- Beal got completely lost as Alan Anderson ran through a maze of screens and got open for an elbow three. He's had his fair share of struggles chasing players around tonight, but I wouldn't fret too much over this.
- Reggie Evans had three offensive rebounds in one possession. Seraphin predictably didn't box him out once.
- Really don't understand why Ariza was in the starting lineup. It's one thing to move a high-usage player to the bench to give the second unit an extra facilitator, but Webster doesn't fit that description at all. The spacing he provides for the starting lineup is invaluable.
- Beal took another contested, off-balanced jumper out of the pick and roll. Still waiting for him to attack and showcase the floor game he's worked so hard on this summer.
- Mentioned this on Twitter, but Wall has to manipulate the space between him and the big sagging off out of the pick and roll better. This is something that Rajon Rondo has mastered in the last few years, and it keeps those long twos attempted at a minimum. That's the next step he needs to take as a scorer.
- Harrington finally started to produce late in the third. Mike touched on the need for more floor spacers along the top of the key; I think Al can really thrive in this offense in trailer situations. He showed off a nice fake and drive that resulted in an And-1, and then on the very next possession put the ball on the floor and hit a nice fadeaway from just outside the key.
- I like how instinctive Glen Rice Jr is digging down on bigs on defense. He's caused two turnovers in the span of about four minutes, and it's helped get Washington back into this game. He'll earn playing time over Garrett Temple if he brings it on this end consistently.
- Nene and Wall come back in for the fourth quarter. Interesting move by Wittman.
- That's the second time Beal has turned the ball over on the fast break. He's struggled creating in the open court; this time he had Maynor along the wing but chose to bully his way to the rim for a contested layup. He definitely looks out of his element tonight, making mistakes he generally stays away from. But if there's a time to experiment, it's tonight.
- That's just an unbelievable play by Rice to fly into the paint and put-back the Eric Maynor miss to send it into overtime. The kid is a gamer and isn't afraid of the moment, but what's so remarkable about him is how smart he plays. He was rarely out of position on defense, and didn't take many shots out of the flow of the offense.
- Again, the Wizards offense got into a funk in overtime and couldn't respond down the stretch.
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