[D.C. Council: setting the scene, rating the starters, assessing the subs, providing the analysis, and catching anything that you may have missed. Unlike the real DC Council, everything here is on the table. Preseason Game No. 3, Washington Wizards at Cleveland Cavaliers; contributor: Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It), who watched the game over bootleg Internet television.]
Washington Wizards 99 at Cleveland Cavaliers 95 [box score]
Stat of the Game: The Wizards shot more free throws than their opponent for once, 34 to 28, but they made just 23 of them (67.6% — ouch) while Cleveland made 21 (75%). Washington tallying 26 assists to 16 turnovers also somewhat helped.
Player of the Game: Brian Cook… BRIAN COOK — 14 points (5-9 FGs, 3-6 3Ps) and 2 rebounds in 21.5 minutes. But yea, Bradley Beal also played well, per the video above.
Newer Beginnings, New Point Guard?
Aside from Brian Cook winning player of the game and contributing nine fourth-quarter points, which I’m sure is totally ideal for Randy Wittman, the coach probably left the night most comfortable with the fact that guys like Trevor Ariza, Jordan Crawford, and Shelvin Mack stepped up in the fourth quarter to help guide the Wizards to a win.
But let’s not sugarcoat this. Ariza was pretty bad for most of the night — dribble drives to nowhere with off-balanced stops, bad closeouts on Cleveland’s Alonzo Gee, sloppy turnovers. He looks far from comfortable in his offensive decision-making, but did bring a couple redeeming defensive possessions and a spot-up 3 resulting from Jordan Crawford making the extra pass early in the fourth. Speaking of Crawford, he was… inconsistent, but we’ll get to him. And Shelvin Mack? He provided one of his more solid performances in memory. Mack contributed nine points on 4-of-6 FGs with three assists, zero turnovers, two rebounds, and a steal. He was balanced and aggressive with his offense, nailing a couple jumpers, including a 3-pointer and a tough bucket in transition. Positive signs in a continued messy Wizards point guard situation.
Rating five Wizards starters & two key subs on a three-star scale.
Jannero Pargo started the game and played 16:15 according to the box score — and he crapped Randy Wittman’s bed for all but 15 seconds, which is the time we’ll give him credit for in throwing up a made jumper from the wing. Pargo went 1-for-5 from the field, missed all three 3-pointers attempted, and turned the ball over six times (SIX) to just two assists. Sure, the ‘new teammates getting used to each other’ deal, but some of Pargo’s passes were just off, and it was all him. So I guess that’s why Randy Wittman didn’t play Pargo in the fourth quarter. Shelvin Mack played well instead … Will he be the next to start in the Wizards PG carousel? Well, there are five preseason games left.
0.25 out of 3 stars
Bradley Beal, getting his first start, took it in stride and looked like the same solid player. His offense did decline as the game wore on, scoring eight points in the first quarter, four in the second, zero in the third, and just two in the fourth quarter. The points in the final period came off two made FTs in the waning seconds that were the result of Beal getting an offensive rebound after he missed two FTs (he went 5-for-7 from the line). These are acceptable rookie things, for a guy who barely plays like a rookie. Beal is the type who will quickly get better. He’s such a complete player — from finishing with a deceptively quick dunk on the break (seen above) to having a calming ability to set up teammates. Beal has a lot of work to put in on pull-up jump shots, but again, the rook will get there. No doubt — 14 points on 4-for-8 FGs with four rebounds, three assists, one steal, and one turnover in 28 minutes in Beal’s third preseason game proves such.
1.75 out of 3 stars
Webster got the start and had a nice start, scoring four points with two rebounds and two assists in the first quarter, but didn’t play in the fourth and finished with seven points and four boards in 16.5 minutes. Not sure you can read too much into this. Jordan Crawford and Shelvin Mack did a decent job in the third quarter and Trevor Ariza improved, slightly, in the fourth quarter, so perhaps Wittman was aiming to increase the confidence of those with questionable preseason beginnings. Credit Webster for continued rebounding hustle and for getting to the free throw line four times in 16 minutes. Even if he didn’t play much, he’s still fully on the coach’s radar.
1.25 out of 3 stars
Vesely was up and down, but more up than down against Cleveland on Saturday night. In the first half alone he blew a close range shot, finished a hanging shot around Anderson Varejao off screen-and-rolling action with Jordan Crawford, and also paired with Shavlik Randolph to give up a ton of offensive boards to the Cavs and play pretty terrible interior defense. BUT… Janny-boy hit a couple jumpers, showing soft touch; he showed the ability to switch onto and contain a guy like Dion Waters; he had a couple timely blocks, got nose-for-ball rebounds, took a charge, and continued to be nice on pick-and-roll defense. Vesely made 3-of-4 free throw attempts, scored 13 points, and got five rebounds. Progress.
1.5 out of 3 stars
Can’t really say much about Seraphin other than he played five minutes, scored two points, and struggled on the defensive boards (or keeping Cleveland off the offensive boards) before leaving the game with a strained calf muscle. Get well soon, Kevin. (Geez, the Wizards are epidemical… countered by ‘better to be injured now’ optimism.)
INCOMPLETE out of 3 stars
Jordan Crawford wasn’t all that bad — maybe, just maybe he showed signs of growth — but he was damn inconsistent. Sometimes he let Boobie Gibson blow by him, sometimes he threw up runners at incomprehensible angles. Sometimes he hit crazy, hanging reverse layups at the shot clock buzzer (as only Crawford can), sometimes he found Jan Vesely for buckets off screen-and-rolling action. Sometimes Jordan launched a 3-pointer on a zero pass possession, sometimes he bungled chances with too many dribbles. Sometimes, in the fourth quarter, Crawford showed the ability to make the extra pass, sometimes he was him again. The most daring Jordan Crawford maneuver of the night: attempting a lob pass on the break to Brian Cook. Otherwise, JC tallied 14 points on 5-for-16 shooting with seven assists and five turnovers. Growth in inconsistency? Maybe so, sometimes.
1 out of 3 stars
I’m not sure what the resurgence of Brian Cook means other than to say… Watch him make the team. Or is this just a novelty? With all the injuries and food poisoning amongst other Wizards bigs, the almost 32-year old Cook is probably a tad surprised he’s getting almost 22 minutes of run in a preseason game out of necessity. Well, he’s taking advantage of it. Cook, picking up from flashes he showed last year — I can’t believe I just typed that, seriously — scored 14 points on 3-for-6 bombs from deep to go with three rebounds, two fouls and two turnovers. Cook somehow received a Jordan Crawford lob pass in transition and finger-rolled the ball in… and he also got stuffed by the bottom of the rim later on. Cook did help the Wizards get abused on the boards when he and Earl Barron had to come in for a fouling Vesely and an an injured Seraphin in the first quarter, but he’s almost/sorta the exact big man you keep on the roster for late-game situations, especially when John Wall is around and healthy.
TOTAL: 1.75 out of 3 stars
“@TrevorAriza, would like to see more pop and passion, I know it’s early, too skilled and talented, #Wizards need him”
-@GCtalks — Wizards radio guy Glenn Consor giving Trevor Ariza a nudge via Twitter.
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