Beal: We have to find a way to finish games
This question has been asked ad nauseum when it comes to Jan Vesely, but this time it could be for real. No, really: Did he turn the corner? The Wizards are looking for answers off their bench and they sure hope so that his effort in the last game is a good omen.
They'll have a better idea by Tuesday's game vs. the Minnesota Timberwolves at Verizon Center (CSN, 7 p.m. ET).
Vesely didn't have a tremendous stat line -- four points on 2-for-3 shooting, seven rebounds, three steals, one assist and no turnovers in 23 minutes of a 103-96 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday -- but he didn't hurt the Wizards. He actually led the reserves in scoring although they contributed just nine points with Martell Webster now starting because of the injury to Trevor Ariza (right hamstring strain).
Kevin Seraphin was off the bench first among post players because of early foul trouble for Nene, but he only lasted eight minutes. Seraphin missed four of his five shot attempts and had three turnovers in that short span.
"I'm searching. Nine points and eight turnovers off our bench," coach Randy Wittman said. "I've got to find a consistent group that's going to go out there and produce. I thought Jan played good. Jan rebounded the ball. He was active defensively."
Wittman stuck with Vesely, who entered with 1:23 left in the first quarter. Vesely made a steal with three seconds left and fed Glen Rice, who returned the favor with a lob. Vesely dunked it just before the buzzer to extend the WIzards' lead to 25-18.
The Cavs made a run in the third quarter to briefly take the lead, but Vesely re-entered with 3:21 left. He stole a pass from Andrew Bynum at the top of the key and went coast-to-coast for an uncontested dunk.
Given it was Vesely, a 2011 lottery pick from Czech Republic who didn't have the fourth-year option picked up on his contract before this season started, the 18,000-plus at Verizon Center were electrified. The Wizards went back ahead 69-60.
"Sometimes it's tough to stay consistent," said Vesely, who didn't play in the first six games of the season. "The last couple weeks I tried to stay ready, work on my game. Stay in shape. I waited for my chance. Now the chance came and I wanted to grab it."
Marcin Gortat was elated to see Vesely play well. Since being traded to the Wizards less than a week before the season tipped off, Gortat has been encouraging his fellow international teammate.
"I was happy that he finally got an opportunity to play. I know he's working hard. I was actually surprised when I came here he was here early in the morning getting shots," said Gortat, who is from Poland. "Afterwards he's coming back, getting his shots and getting his work done.
"With this guy it's all about opportunity. ... He played well against me in the Eurobasket and I realized that he's capable of playing in this league. I told him a few days ago, 'Listen, at some point you got to say screw it.' Go out there and do it. ... If he continues to play like that he's going to crack the rotation and he's going to help us out."