Crisp second unit outplays Wizards starters

Crisp second unit outplays Wizards starters
October 12, 2012, 2:15 am
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For the second straight game, the Wizards sent out the same first unit, one that played on without several likely starters.
 
For the second straight misfiring game, it showed.
 
Don't expect a third, at least with not with the same quintet.
 
Coach Randy Wittman indicated changes are likely when the Wizards play at Cleveland on Saturday in the team's third preseason game. Who can blame him after the starters not named Jordan Crawford, who led Washington with 17 points, shot a combined 8-of-24 from the field and put the Wizards in a 17-point first quarter hole.
 
Over-dribbling in lieu of passing proved to be the root of all misfiring evil.
 
"We just pounded the ball too much to start the game," Wittman said. "Pound, pound, pound, then instead of looking to pass, move, cut, we just pounded it way too much without the ball moving."
 
When the reserves entered, that all changed, as did the momentum.
 
The starting lineup of Crawford, A.J. Price, Kevin Seraphin, Jan Vesely and the clanking Trevor Ariza helped put Washington down 38-21 after the first quarter. Likely starter Emeka Okafor (food poisoning) sat out, as did Trevor Booker (sore left hamstring), John Wall and Nene.
 
Wittman turned to his bench. Led by poised rookie Bradley Beal, Martell Webster and Jannero Pargo, they crisply strung together a 22-0 second quarter run.
 
"The second unit…moved, passed, cut, shared open shots, knocked it down, got us back in it," Wittman said "At the start of the third we had some possessions that (were) same thing, but then got better as it went on. But you can’t bury yourself again, 38-21 at the end of the quarter, fighting your way back again. We did the same thing Sunday, the starters. We’ve got to get better at starting the game, obviously."
 
On the heels of Sunday's loss at Charlotte where the Wizards collectively made only 33 percent of their shots, seems like a change would indeed be a good thing.
 
"It’s a function of not passing the ball to an open man," Wittman said of his starting unit's offensive issues. "It’s a simple game. It really is. I’m not going to fool you with anything else, trust me. That’s all it was. We didn’t run separate plays for the second unit that we did run for the first unit. We gotta learn."
 
Pargo, making his preseason debut, and Webster (12 points, 10 rebounds) are ideal reserves with their proficient, instant offense styles. Adeptly they found Beal in good spots and deferred to the aggressive rookie when required; Beal's aggressive drives to the basket led to multiple trips to the free throw line.
 
The 19-year-old Beal responded in kind, matching Pargo with a team-high five assists. The hustling Chris Singleton (seven rebounds) and a combination of Brian Cook (two 3-pointers) and Seraphin (six of his 10 points came in the fourth quarter), rounded out the group.
 
"The second unit I think, guys are more advanced, have more experience," Pargo said. "I think the game slows down a little bit for us. We try to make plays for each other, we play hard, play smart, try to play together."
 
The chemistry proved vibrant, enough to imagine Wittman using these players together when the games turn real. However, just like with the starters, the coach isn't ready to commit to any combination.
 
"I haven’t reached that point since we’ve only used one starting lineup right now," Wittman said. "We’re going to mix and match here moving forward and look at different guys. After Saturday when somebody has started that hasn’t craps his pants, then you’re going to ask me, maybe he’s better coming off the – you don’t know what’s going to happen moving forward."
 
Saturday's forecasted lineup "change" might prove nothing more than Okafor making his Wizards debut, but probably not.