Wake-up call: Energy more valuable than points

Wake-up call: Energy more valuable than points
November 22, 2013, 8:00 am
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Highlights: Wizards 98, Cavaliers 91

Coach Randy Wittman already was contemplating making changes to his rotation, before he lost Trevor Ariza (right hamstring strain) and Al Harrington (right knee soreness) more than a week ago.

Still, he didn't have many options. The Wizards (4-7) already were short-handed without rookie Otto Porter (right hip flexor strain) and Chris Singleton (left foot surgery).

Ariza's injury isn't as bad as originally anticipated but he still doesn't appear close to returning. Harrington is officially listed as questionable for Friday's game at the Toronto Raptors (CSN+, 7 p.m. ET). The Wizards are on a two-game winning streak and will be playing their third game in four days. 

So far, the adjustments have worked. More Garrett Temple and Jan Vesely, and to a smaller degree rookie Glen Rice. Less Eric Maynor, Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin.

[RELATED: Wizards take on Raptors on Friday night. Preview the action here.]

At 6-6, Temple is a solid ball-handler as he has supplanted Maynor off the bench because of his defense. That's why he was retained by president Ernie Grunfeld in the off-season for the veteran minimum. 

Temple only played seven total minutes in the first five games, but since then he has averaged 15 minutes per game. Wittman likes Temple's ball pressure, which was evident in his two games defending Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving. Temple forced him into mistakes as Irving had trouble getting off clean with his dribble. And when Temple committed a turnover, he ran down Matthew Dellevadova to pin his shot at the rim on the backboard.

Vesely, who didn't play in the first five games, has been nothing but energy. He jumped Seraphin, who has been a liability because of his turnovers and getting outworked for rebounds by smaller players, as the first low post player off the bench, is 9-for-14 shooting and more importantly has been active in the paint by averaging seven rebounds in 22 minutes. Booker started the first three games at power forward but fell out of favor after he dislocated his left index finger. 

[RELATED: How does Marcin Gortat fit into Washington's offense?]

Rice didn't play the first five games, either. He made his first NBA shot, a three-pointer, but has been 1-for-9 shooting overall since then. He has been an energy boost as well, making hustle plays for loose balls, tossing a lob to Vesely for a dunk and getting called for goal-tending on what at first appeared to be a clean blocked shot. 

The bench isn't providing much in points, so how long Wittman can get by with the starters carrying this much of the scoring load remains to be seen. Since Ariza went out of the starting lineup and Martell Webster has been starting in his place, the reserves contribute just 11 points per game. Before the switch, the bench contributed 26 points. 

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