In their fourth and final preseason game the Washington Wizards played the Thibodeau-sort-of-new-look-Knicks in the Garden in New York City, and were looking for that one feel-good win of the preseason having previously lost to the not-so-mighty Rockets, Raptors, and those same Knicks at home.
Rui Hachimura being still out for personal reasons, it was another night that Kyle Kuzma and KCP were going to get plenty of minutes and Avdija would see a good amount of action too. And that was indeed the case: Kuzma played for 28 minutes, KCP for 26, and Avdija for 23.
Wes Unsfeld, Jr. had another last chance at experimenting with lineups before the season starts for real, and he sure used it. Perhaps even a bit too much when in the final minutes of the 4th quarter he let the youngsters try to close out the game which resulted in a double digit 100-89 lead with less than 5:30 on the clock evaporating due to a series of rookie moves-turnovers and bad decisions especially by Kispert (driving into a triple team on one possession, a bad pass on another with 2:35 left, though he did also make two three-pointers late in the game) and Gafford (getting blocked with less than a minute left, getting lost on defense in several of the last possessions - see the one where Rose drills a three with 2:02 left).
If you expected Beal to come fired up after a bum game a few days ago when he shot 1-11 from the field you’d also be disappointed as he only logged 9 minutes.
Overall, I had a positive impression of the new head coach’s willingness to experiment and let the young players have the ball in their hands more. For instance, by drawing up a play for Kispert to equalize the score at 113-113 out of a timeout with just 33.5 seconds to go. I’d like to see Avdija take more than 4 shots in 23 minutes though. And I’d like to see Bertans make some shots (wouldn’t we all?). But there were a lot of positives in today’s game I feel. And hey, Dinwiddie’s looks healthy and the whole Westbrook trade just feels great now.
Let’s see how this all holds up as the season opens up next week. Here are the game’s highlights: