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Beal shines in preseason debut


Beal shines in preseason debut

Updated 8:47 p.m.

Without any televised coverage of the Wizards 100-88 road preseason loss to the Bobcats, we're left to peruse the box score for clues as to what happened. Let's start perusing...

For starters, in addition to John Wall (knee) and Nene (plantar fasciitis), the Wizards played without Emeka Okafor, Trevor Booker and Jannero Pargo, who sat out the previous two days worth of practices due to an abdominal strain. Booker skipped Saturday's workout with hamstring soreness. The Associated Press recap had Okafor out with general "soreness." Non-roster players Brian Cook and Steven Gray also did not play.

Bradley Beal, playing in his first NBA game (yes its preseason, but still), and Martell Webster led the Wizards with 18 points apiece. Kevin Seraphin added 11...and that's about where the scoring highlights end. Collectively the Wizards shot 33.3 percent (33-of-99), committed 20 turnovers and put the Bobcats on the free throw line a whopping 46 times.

Obviously, those last three stats won't cut it and obviously they came with several key players watching, not playing. After Saturday's practice I asked Wittman what stat those of not watching the game should focus on. He said turnovers. Worth noting the Bobcats, led in scoring by Gerald Henderson's 19, committed 21 turnovers. Still...

Even with a full complement of roster options scoring concerns existed entering the season. Without Wall, last year's leading scorer, and their top frontcourt threat in Nene, concern jumps to DEFCON 5. Starters Jordan Crawford (6 points) and Trevor Ariza (8), the expected main scoring options in such a depleted scenario, finished a combined 5-of-20 from the field. The entire starting lineup, including Kevin Seraphin, Jan Vesely and A.J. Price, finished 14-of-49 (28.6).

In 27 minutes off the bench, Beal finished 7-of-17 including 2-of-4 from 3-point range. The rookie also made both of his free throw attempts and finished with three rebounds, two assists, two steals and one turnover. Again, no context but I'm guessing Randy Wittman would take this stat line most nights out of the 19-year-old.

Some interesting numbers in the point guard derby. No Wall or Pargo meant lots of Price and Mack. In 25 plus minutes, Price scored nine points, but had one assist with five turnovers (Ariza led the Wizards with six). On the flip side, Mack led the team with seven assists and only a single turnover.

I'm still not convinced Mack isn't the odd point guard out when everyone is healthy, but those are strong numbers. For the moment he has time to make some noise during camp over the next three weeks and progress in his transition to the on-ball role. Also residual loyalty from Wittman for having been part of the late season turnaround under the coach cannot be ignored.

Webster, brought in with Beal and Cartier Martin this offseason to help the perimeter shooting, scored 14 points in the fourth quarter. The 25-year-old swingman made half of his 12 shots and 2-of-5 from beyond the arc. Martin played only seven plus minutes, but made two of three shots. Chris Singleton, also in the small forward mix, finished with nine points and team-high nine rebounds in 16 minutes.

The Wizards return to George Mason Monday and Tuesday for consecutive two-a-day practice sessions. Tuesday's evening session, starting around 6:30 p.m., is open to the public and feature a scheduled performance by recording artist Wale.

The next contest comes Thursday at home against the New York Knicks, Washington's only preseason game at the Verizon Center.

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Three things to watch for Wizards at Nets, including if Otto Porter will play

Three things to watch for Wizards at Nets, including if Otto Porter will play

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr. and the Washington Wizards take on Spencer Dinwiddie, D'Angelo Russell, Jarrett Allen and the Brooklyn Nets. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington Plus. 

Here are three things to watch...

1. Will Porter play?: The Wizards may be getting a key player back on Friday with Otto Porter Jr. on the road back from a right knee contusion. He left Monday's game against the Pacers after suffering the injury, then missed Wednesday's game against the Celtics. The Wizards lost both of those games.

Porter, 25, was close to playing on Wednesday as a gametime decision, so it seems likely he will be available on Friday. If he does play, he will look for better success against the Nets than he has in their other match-ups this season. Through two games against Brooklyn, Porter is averaging only 7.5 points while shooting 35.3 percent from the field. He is 0-for-6 from three.

Porter, though, had been playing very well before the injury. In his previous three games, he was averaging 16.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.7 steals and a block. He shot 55.3 percent overall and 47.1 percent from three.

2. Wiz need a win: The Wizards head to a Brooklyn in the middle of a slump. They have lost three straight games following a three-game win streak that happened to begin against this same Nets team on Dec. 1. 

The Wizards have found some balance recently, having gone 9-8 in their last 17 games after going 2-9 to begin the year. But real, sustained momentum has been elusive. 

The Nets are a team that they should beat. This game begins a manageable stretch that includes some good teams like the Lakers and Pacers, but plenty of potential cupcakes like the Hawks, Suns and Bulls.

3. Nets are playing well: Though the Nets (11-18) have an even worse record than the Wizards (11-17), they are on a bit of a roll. They have won three straight games, including an overtime victory over the Raptors and one on the road against the Sixers.

They held Toronto to only 105 points, including the extra period. And against the Sixers, they scored 127 points in regulation.

Spencer Dinwiddie has been leading the way, averaging 27 points and 6.3 assists during this three-game stretch. Allen Crabbe has also stepped up with 16 points and 4.3 boards per game.


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Drew Gooden describes playing with LeBron James: It was 'like a traveling rock band'

Drew Gooden describes playing with LeBron James: It was 'like a traveling rock band'

LeBron James and the media circus that comes along with him is coming to Washington, D.C., as the Lakers will face off with the Wizards at Capital One Arena.

Drew Gooden played with James for the better part of four seasons in Cleveland from 2004-08, and so he knows exactly what it's like when one of the NBA's greatest players comes to town. 

"It's only real until you actually see it," Gooden said during Thursday's edition of the Wizards Talk podcast. "We used to joke and call ourselves not the Beatles, but the 'Cleatles,' because it was almost like a traveling rock band. And everybody played their part."

Gooden recounted one particular incident during a day off in Detroit in 2006, when he, James and a couple of their teammates went to a shopping mall to buy some watches.

"When we walked into the shopping mall in Detroit, it was like Michael Jackson had entered the shopping mall," Gooden explained. "Kids were running up, grownups were running up, everybody ran into the store we were in. They had to shut it down with mall security, and wouldn't let anybody in."

"The only thing I was thinking of is like, 'How are we gonna get out of here?' Because we came on our own with no security, so we were just thinking of how we were gonna get out of the mall now. And when I saw that star power of LeBron James back in 2006, this was before he won a championship, I couldn't imagine how it is now, and what he's become in today's game."

James' star power has only grown since then, and many have already declared him the greatest basketball player of all-time.

This label in reference to James is nothing new to Drew Gooden: he heard it when they were both teenagers playing AAU baskeball. 

"Calvin Andrews, who was a sports agent of Carmelo Anthony, Calvin Andrews told me when LeBron was 15 years of age, he said, 'You see that guy right there?'" Gooden recalled. "I said, 'Yeah, what about him?'"

"'He's gonna be the best basketball player ever.'"

"So it's no surprise to me, and this is not new to me, it's just I'm more amazed that it actually happened," Gooden concluded. "A lot of people say, 'Oh, he's gonna be the best ever or he has an opportunity of being the best ever.' But I literally heard a man tell me that in Calvin Andrews, and that guy actually becoming one of the best ever, or the best ever." 

For more on LeBron James and the Lakers' upcoming visit to D.C. to take on the Wizards, listen to the full Wizards Talk podcast below.