Pregame warmup: Veterans bring calm to 2nd unit

Pregame warmup: Veterans bring calm to 2nd unit
February 27, 2014, 4:30 pm
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Can Wizards keep momentum going against Raptors?

Orlando Magic shooting guard Victor Oladipo (5) battles for the ball with Washington Wizards power forward Al Harrington (7) and Wizards point guard Andre Miller (24) in the second quarter at Verizon Center.

(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

A look at the stat lines of Andre Miller and Al Harrington doesn't reveal anything overwhelming. But here's the impact: The Wizards are 3-0 since the duo has taken the court and solidified the second unit. Miller (12 points, nine assists, seven rebounds) came here via trade last week and Harrington (12 points, four rebounds, three assists) returned from right knee surgery.  

"The leadership is out the door. if you're sitting close enough to the floor while he's out there on the floor you can hear him talking all the time," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of Miller, who replaced Garrett Temple as the backup point guard to John Wall. "That's big for our second unit to stabilize those guys. And getting Al back too. The comfort is different. I'm extremely pleased with what we've seen so far."

Bradley Beal is taken out usually with about five minutes left in the first quarter to catch a breather. He returns to start the second with the reserves.

"It's like they've been playing with us all year. When we got Andre out there, his eye contact with me, the things he's been teaching me as we go has been tremendous for me," Beal said. "Then we got Al back, another shooter, another guy that can put the ball on the floor, too. Those are two great vets for us. Two great leaders. Whenever they get going, whenever they're just involved it makes us a better team."

RELATED: [Game On: Defense will determine fate vs. Raptors]

In Tuesday's 115-106 win vs. the New Orleans Pelicans, Miller entered for Wall late in the third quarter. The Pelicans had been down by 17 points but whittled the deficit to 88-80. When Wall returned at 6:37 of the fourth quarter, the score was 100-88. 

Miller hadn't played in a game since December, when he was suspended by the Denver Nuggets for a confrontation with his coach. Harrington hadn't play in a game since Nov. 12. Their legs will get better, and so will their ability to play more minutes and more efficiently. 

"A team goes on a 9-0 run against you that there's not a panic switch," Wittman said. "He's not going to come down and go into panic mode and that keeps everybody else calm."

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