You like preseason comebacks that you can't watch on TV? If so, the Wizards' 94-89 win over the New Orleans Pelicans in Jacksonville is for you! The Wizards trailed for most of the second and third quarters thanks to sluggish offense, but rallied when the benches entered in the fourth for the victory.
You can thank the Junior Mafia and Kevin Seraphin. Otto Porter and Glen Rice Jr. were both great in the fourth quarter, facilitating nicely, hitting shots and getting Seraphin involved. Porter went 4-5 for 10 points, including the game-tying jumper at the three-minute mark. Rice shot terribly for most of the game, but stepped up late and delivered the key pocket pass to Seraphin for a layup that put the Wizards up four with 1:18 remaining. Seraphin, for his part, was 5-8 from the field, though he also fouled out late.
As for the rest of the team ... The game wasn't on TV, so the frame of reference for everything that follows below is verrrrryyyyy limited. Nevertheless, some thoughts:
3 things we sorta learned
John Wall was out of rhythm: The stats back up the constant griping of the Wizards' radio crew: the Wizards' star was not in the flow. Wall had 14 points, but also had nine turnovers, including a whopping seven in his first-quarter stint. There appeared to be a lot of everything: bad passes, offensive fouls, travels, etc.
There also seemed to be some nice plays, to be fair. As the game went on, he seemed to calm down a bit. But the Wizards would surely prefer a steadier Wall to the boom-or-bust player his box score line indicated.
Point guards often struggle in the preseason because they have to incorporate so many new pieces (more on that below!), so there's no reason to worry too much. It'd still be nice if Wall didn't commit that many turnovers, though.
Nene + the second unit = profit? Besides the fast start, the Wizards' best success came when Nene checked in during the second quarter to play with Andre Miller, Glen Rice Jr., Otto Porter and Kevin Seraphin. The ball appeared to be popping thanks to Nene's high- and low-post work.
That should elicit a HMMMM from Randy Wittman if the Wizards did indeed look as crisp as it seemed during this stretch. Last year, the Wizards used Beal as the lone starter with a bunch of reserves to maintain scoring punch. Given the number of viable frontcourt that can play with the starters, maybe it's worth staggering Nene's minutes or even bringing him off the bench entirely.
The defense is way ahead of the offense: This is what Glenn Consor said at one point in the third quarter:
"I think it's taking too long for the entry pass to begin the offensive flow. By the time the Wizards begin to run an offensive play, the shot clock is down. It affects their options."
Now's a good time to remember how many new faces need to be integrated. Paul Pierce is very different from Trevor Ariza. DeJuan Blair is very different from anyone who backed up Nene last year. Kris Humphries, when he's healthy, has his quirks. This is why the preseason exists. Here's hoping the lethargy gets worked out now instead of later.