WASHINGTON -- Major history was made in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday night, an event that will have international ramifications.
No, not that. For the first time in the NBA, two teammates from Latvia played together in the same game.
With a rash of injuries to their frontcourt, the Wizards brought up center Anzejs Pasecniks from their G-League team to play the Bulls on Wednesday. That paired him with Davis Bertans, who is affectionately known as the 'Latvian Laser.'
The Wizards lost the game in overtime, 110-109. It was a crushing defeat that saw them blow an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter.
But Bertans and Pasecniks couldn't help but smile when discussing what Wednesday night meant to them and their country.
"You can't even imagine what kind of a small possiblity that is," Bertans said. "It's an amazing feeling. It just shows that basketball in Latvia is growing very rapidly."
"We are from a small country. Every time something big happens, all the people in Latvia are happy. It's big for Latvia, having four NBA players. I say 'hi' to all the Latvian basketball fans," Pasecniks added.
Only two million people live in Latvia, about the population of West Virginia. Yet, they can now count four NBA players, as Pasecniks said; him, Bertans, Kristaps Porzingis of the Mavericks and Rodion Kurucs of the Nets.
Though Kurucs is the youngest, Pasecniks was the last to debut. He was a first round draft pick in 2017, but took three NBA seasons to finally see game action.
Pasecniks played for Gran Carania in Spain for two years, as the Sixers stashed him in Europe, before he was waived in July. He caught on with the Wizards two days later, first with a spot on their Summer League team. That led to a training camp invitation with the Capital City Go-Go and then a two-way contract with the Wizards.
Pasecniks, who turns 24 on Friday, played 12 games with the Go-Go before getting called up to make his debut for the Wizards. Despite having no NBA experience and having a raw offensive skillset, he played quite well with nine points and eight rebounds in 28 minutes.
It was enough to exceed some expectations.
“I thought he was terrific. Yes, he was terrific," head coach Scott Brooks said. "He’s big at the basket, pretty good hands. He knows how to play, makes good passes, makes good reads, and he is only going to get better. He’s a young player. We are going to keep giving him some confidence."
Pasecniks said he learned the night before the game he was going to play, though he didn't expect to play as much as he did. He said what helped was that the Go-Go run the same playbook and terminology as the Wizards.
"When I got on the court, I feel like I knew what to do and the plays. I felt like a part of the team," he said.
Pasecniks had a 'welcome to the NBA' moment on Wednesday. While he was standing under the rim, Bulls big man Wendell Carter Jr. went up for a rebound and came down with an elbow to Pasecniks' face. It knocked the Wizards rookie to the ground and Carter was assessed a flagrant foul.
Pasecniks was sporting a gash on his right cheek, right under his eye. But that was from the day before when he got clocked by a teammate during the Wizards' practice.
Such is life as an NBA player. But that last part is all Pasecniks cares about now: he's an NBA player.
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