[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. 7, Washington Wizards at Miami Heat (in Kansas City, MO); contributors: Adam McGinnis, Rashad Mobleyand Kyle Weidie.]
Jordan Crawford can pass? Yes, Jordan Crawford can pass… to Jan Vesely, a GIF.
Washington Wizards 101 at Miami Heat (in Kansas City) 94
Stat of the Game: Rebounding. The Wizards had a 47-39 edge thanks to 34 rebounds off the bench. Chris Singleton was tenacious (7 rebs). Jan Vesely (11 rebs) showed, if anything, that he continues to have a nose for the ball. Even Brian Cook got in on the action (5 rebs), surprisingly looking as healthy as he’ll ever be.
Player of the Game: Martell Webster — 23 points (8-12 FGs, 2-3 3Ps, 5-5 FTs), 1 assist, 2 rebounds and 1 turnover in 23.5 minutes.
From Slumber to a Show Me State.
The Miami Heat took this game relatively seriously, and the Wizards came out like they were a young team in awe of the champs. They were lackadaisical. They floated passes under pressure. They showed poor, sleepy spacing. They didn’t protect the ball with focus. They often got caught watching the Heat offense operate and LeBron pass with little resistance. The Wiz Kids were able to minimize damage in the first quarter (when Miami jumped out to a 12-1 start), and they were fueled by back-to-back dunks by Martell Webster midway through the second. But it was Washington’s play in the third—behind 10 points, four rebounds in the period from Chris Singleton and nine points, two 3-pointers in the quarter from Webster—that ultimately allowed the Wizards to recover from a 14-point halftime deficit and win the game.
Rating five Wizards starters & two key subs on a three-star scale.
The Wizards began the contest extremely flat, and if it weren’t for Price’s eight first-quarter points, the deficit might have been too large to dig out of. The new Wizards point guard finished with 11 points (4-7 FGs), five assists and five turnovers. His hot preseason 3-point shooting continued with 2-for-4 from downtown. Price is 10-for-18 from deep in the preseason and 7-for-10 in the last three games. Although he has likely solidified the starting gig until John Wall returns, there are still issues with ball security that were on display when Price went up against the Miami’s first team.
Brad Beal had a rough start and an understandably rude awakening in being introduced to Dwyane Wade. In about seven first half minutes he missed one shot, had two turnovers and committed three fouls. The rookie got caught watching the show too much. He stood looking as A.J. Price got in trouble under halfcourt, double-team pressure defense, and he lost focus on his defender, Wade, and got his pocket picked. There was miscommunication on defense, and there was a charge called on Beal that was drawn by Chris Bosh. But, to Beal’s credit, and to what should be the high delight of Wizards fans, the rook bounced back in the second half with nine points, four rebounds, two assists, and three steals. In a close game late in the fourth, Beal drew a charge against Udonis Haslem, hit a big 3-pointer, and completed the night with a steal and a breakaway dunk near the buzzer to give Washington the seven point margin.
If anything, Trevor Ariza’s horrid offense is a distraction from Jordan Crawford’s sometimes bad offense. Crawford was 2-for-6 in 17 minutes, Ariza was 0-for-6 in 20 minutes. Ariza also grabbed three rebounds, went 3-for-4 from the line for his three points, and got a single digit in each of the assist, turnover, steal and foul columns. He once stripped the ball from LeBron and started a fast break, but Ariza (and Trevor Booker) also once fell victim to a LeBron dribble back-to-front and in-between-the-legs move while standing. Otherwise, the most memorable moment from 20 relatively useless minutes was Ariza just dribbling the ball away midway through the third quarter. Maybe the coaches see something on defense or otherwise from Ariza that I don’t, but from a distance it looks like a net loss.
After two straight dominating outings, Trevor Booker’s performance fell off a cliff with zero points and no rebounds in 13 minutes. Booker missed an easy post entry pass early on the Wizards first possession of the game, and he never recovered. On the defensive end, he repeatedly lost Chris Bosh and appeared several times to be clueless in rotations. Booker sat for the entire second half — he left the court “gingerly” late in the second quarter according to Wiz TV man Steve Buckhantz — and there was nothing crunk for him going on in Kansas City on Wednesday night.
Chris Bosh scored 16 of his 18 points in the first half and seemingly all of his baskets came at the expense of Emeka Okafor. Bosh scored off the glass at close range, he stepped out and hit 20-foot jumpers, he dunked after cutting hard to the basket — each time Okafor was a step or two slow. It was as if Heat coach Erik Spoelstra made a list of the big man moves he wanted to see and Bosh just went down the checklist while Okafor played the role of a Washington General. For Bosh to be quicker than Okafor was expected, but for him to out-muscle (and hustle) Okafor was not at all expected. Okafor did score the first field goal of the game for the Wizards, and he drew a nice charge on Dwyane Wade in the third quarter, but that was of little consolation. Okafor was brought in to be a post presence on defense (any offense he contributes is a bonus), and last night he failed.
Martell Webster (with a team-high 23 points) played like a man vying for a starting position, but more importantly, he demonstrated the type of energy that is needed off the bench. Mere seconds after subbing into the game for Trevor Ariza in the first quarter, Webster threw one of the only entry post passes by a Wizards guard on the night, and Okafor caught the ball in stride for an easy score. At the end of the quarter, Webster made a sharp cut to the basket and scored on a dunk off a beautiful pass by Chris Singleton. (He made a similar cut in the third quarter, but LeBron James got his mitts on it and deflected the pass out of bounds.) Webster later stopped LeBron from scoring his customary, momentum-changing, quarter-ending basket. Webster also pulled some end-of-the-quarter magic of his own the last two minutes of the third by hitting two 3-pointers and a layup to cut the Heat’s lead to just four. Starting is nice, but providing game-changing momentum off the bench is just as important, and Webster demonstrated that against the best team in the league.
Midway through the third quarter, Singleton got tangled up with Dwyane Wade and he took exception to an elbow near his back that Wade had used on a clear out. Intentional or unintentional, Singleton was pissed and confronted Wade to verbally communicate his displeasure. Nothing came out of it, but soon after, Singleton took out his anger on the rim with an impressive dunk. Blowing by guess who? D-Wade. Chris didn’t stop with one highlight as he filled up the stat line with 17 points, seven rebounds, three steals and one assist. Singleton had Twitter Wiz Nation buzzing with optimism that this confident player, who was rarely seen in a sub-par rookie season, is here to stay.
Coach Randy Wittman was slapped with a technical toward the end of third quarter after repeatedly voicing his displeasure with a foul call on Chris Singleton. He could also be seen occasionally giving encouragement to his players from a seated position on the bench. But Wittman earned his money after he called a 20-second timeout with 9:53 left in the first quarter. His young Wizards team, playing without their two best players, John Wall and Nene, were on the brink of being blown out by the LeBron, Wade and the mighty Miami Heat. Wittman did not seem to say much, but whatever it was had a calming influence on his team. The Heat’s lead did creep up to 16 at one point in the second quarter, but the Wizards shook off those early doldrums and were competitive the remainder of the game. Unfortunately for Wittman, he may have capture that 20-second timeout speech in a bottle until Wall and Nene re-join the team.