Recapping the Wizards first preseason win of the year, a 99-95 victory at Cleveland...
The basics: Making his first start in three preseason games, Bradley Beal scored 14 points, tying Jordan Crawford and Brian Cook with team-high honors while Jan Vesely assertively added 13.
As promised, Wizards coach Randy Wittman shook up the starting lineup, inserting Beal, Martell Webster and Jannero Pargo while bringing Crawford, Trevor Ariza and A.J Price off the bench. Of the new starters, only the poised rookie seemed to maintain his level of play. Crazy to think the 19-year-old Beal has been the most consistent Wizard during the preseason - but it's true. Outside of the St. Louis native innocently tweaking some stunned D.C. sports fans by tweeting out some Cardinals joy following Game 5's epic comeback against the Nationals, the kid has been rather spot on. Meanwhile the two highest plus-minus lines on the team belonged to Crawford (+14), whose skill set and demeanor are ultimately best suited for a sixth-man role, and Price (+11). Once again, Washington fell behind early and trailed by eight points after the first quarter, but the margin never ballooned into double figures.
Bumps, bruises and then some: Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the victory is that it came with so many out of action, especially up front. For the third straight game no Emeka Okafor (food poisoning), no Trevor Booker (sore left hamstring) and yes, no Nene or John Wall. Chris Singleton (right shoulder contusion) joined that dinged up group pregame. Just five minutes in, center Kevin Seraphin did as well with a right calf strain. He never returned, leaving non-roster invitee Shavlik Randolph (nine rebounds) to start the second half at center. Remember when the question entering the camp was how would the Wizards find playing time for everyone up front...
The point guards: Pargo is the most experienced and the most offensively potent of the lead guard options, but over the last two games, he's also been the most turnover-prone. In just over 16 minutes against Cleveland, the 33-year-old committed six turnovers (with two assists), the same amount he coughed up against New York on Thursday. Meanwhile Shelvin Mack (nine points, three assists in 20 minutes) continues to value possession as the rising second-year guard has not committed a single turnover during the preseason. Mack, who sank 4 of 6 shots and continues performing at a higher level when not tasked with initiating the attack, also formed a nice duo with Crawford (seven assists, five turnovers), who has no issue with the attack initiating angle. Price finished with seven points and one assist in 11 minutes.
Kyrie Irving (nine points, seven assists) did play for the Cavaliers, but did not take over the game and missed 10 of 13 field goal attempts.
Jan Vesely: Here's a portion of what Wittman said Thursday after Vesely's tepid two points, four rebound performance against the Knicks.
"Jan’s got to be more aggressive. Right now, he’s a little tentative when he’s rolling to the basket and finishing at the rim. It’s not with the authority that we’ve seen."
That was not the case for Vesely against Anderson Varejao and the Cavaliers other bigs. He made all five of his field goal attempts including two jumpers outside of 12 feet, but also stuck his nose into the fray on the boards and defensively with two blocks. Pulling down five rebounds in 32 minutes won't cut it on a regular basis and he's hardly got it all figured out offensively, but this level of effort should keep Vesely in the playing rotation on a regular basis even when all hands are on deck.
In the bonus...Ariza finished 2 of 6 from the field and is now shooting a brick-laying 23.8 percent during preseason...There might not be a roster spot available for Cook (3 of 6 from beyond the arc) when all the injured return, but the NBA veteran is reminding the coaches he can fill the stretch-four role if needed...The Wizards return to action Monday (7:30 p.m.; televised on Comcast SportsNet) against the Brooklyn Nets in the brand new Barclays Center.