Ugly for stretches in the first half, the shorthanded Washington Wizards received contributions from all corners and rallied from a 16-point deficit to knock of the Miami Heat 101-94 in a preseason game played in Kansas City.
Martell Webster scored 23 points and Chris Singleton added 17 as the Wizards (3-4) bench picked up the slack for a largely ineffective first unit and led the way to a second straight win. The forward pair made 15 of 23 shots while Jannero Pargo tallied 11 points and six assists. Jan Vesely grabbed 11 rebounds, five off the offensive glass.
Fine, it's only the preseason and LeBron James didn't play a second of the fourth quarter for the Heat (4-3). James however was on the court when Washington's rally began in the third quarter behind Webster and Singleton while Dwyane Wade, Ray Allen and Udonis Haslem played much of the fourth. Brian Cook's putback with four minutes left gave Washington the lead for good. Despite an overall rough night from the field, Bradley Beal sealed the win with a late 3-pointer and a fast break bucket off his own steal.
*During the first half, Beal looked every bit of a 19-year-old rookie realizing he's starting against Wade and the defending NBA champions. Like most of the first unit, Beal looked tentative early which ultimately led to only playing seven minutes while committing three turnovers, three fouls and scoring zero points on one attempt. The attacking Wade, who had 16 of his 23 points in the first half, had something to do with the struggles.
Guess what. The kid came out of the locker room and showed there would be no crawling into a shell. Beal quickly intercepted a pass on defense, leading to a fast break basket. Moment later after catching a pass on the wing, he evaded an onrushing Shane Battier and buried a right wing jumper. Later in the quarter, Beal drove the lane and delivered a perfect slip pass to Trevor Ariza, which led to free throws. Then came the clutch 3-pointer, which put the Wizards up 94-89 with two minutes left. Overall, he finished 3 of 9 from the floor, but did not commit a turnover after halftime and showed no ill effects following the ankle tweak during Monday's practice.
*Of all the non-Beal off-season acquisitions, Webster's been the most impressive. Heck, he's been the best player on the team during preseason and was again in Kansas City. Brought in for his perimeter touch, Webster hammered home three dunks, including an alley-oop lob from Pargo. There were also crafty moves inside, another consistent effort getting to the free throw line (5 for 5) and overall the swingman made 8 of 12 from the field. There's been no sign of the player who's been limited by injuries in recent years and underwent back surgery before last season. Kind of like his scoring punch off the bench. Regardless, Webster has earned his way toward quality minutes when the games turn real. Very early, but this signing is looking like a steal for the Wizards.
* Singleton has talked the aggressive talk during camp after looking lost at times during his rookie season. The 6-foot-8 forward walked that walk against Miami, going hard throughout on both ends of the court. One of the game's highlights came in the third quarter when Singleton drove past Wade for a thunderous dunk moments after the two went nose to nose following some under the basket contact.
* Singleton came out with the starters after halftime in place of Trevor Booker, who did not play in the second half after. Booker, who missed the opening four preseason games with a hamstring injury, "gingerly" walked off the court according to Steve Buckhantz on the telecast. There has already been speculation as to whether the Wizards might keep Cook, a non-roster player, because of injuries to Nene and Kevin Seraphin. If Booker misses any length of time, that scenario seems like a formality.
*Ariza's miserable shooting ways continued, missing all six of his attempts. Defensively he looked active in spots, but overall Ariza, now misfiring at a 27.2 percent clip, looks like he's searching for his game. Keep looking Trevor. Maybe it's in San Antonio, where the Wizards next play on Friday.
*Also clanking, Cartier Martin (0 for 6, four from beyond the arc), while the other deep reserves played key roles during the comeback. Shelvin Mack's first action came with just over five minutes left, but he sank 2 of 3 attempts. Factor in Pargo's night plus Cook's scenario and the battle for the final spot is even tighter. Good luck with the call Coach Wittman.