Randy Wittman: "We've got to take better care of the ball."
The 2013 preseason, done. Thanks to a strong second half and specifically dominant fourth quarter, the Wizards (2-5) closed out their finale on a winning note with a 101-82 victory in Cleveland. Here's what the box score reveals:
*After a sluggish start against the Pistons in Tuesday's loss, the Wizards trailed Cleveland 32-20 after the first quarter and by 12 at halftime. Led by Bradley Beal (21 points), Trevor Ariza (19) and Al Harrington (17), everything changed after halftime and especially in the final period as Washington outscored the Cavs 28-10 over the final 12 minutes. Led by that trio, the Wizards made 15 of 28 3-pointers while holding the Cavs to 39.5 shooting from the field.
“A little muddy start again," Wizards coach Randy Wittman told the media in Cleveland. "But in the second half, as I tried to tell them, when you come out with that type of energy on both ends of the floor like we did in the second half, it just feeds over into your offense. It’s got to be a grind when you’re going through no energy. You’ve got to play offensively that way. Both last night and tonight, they came out and responded but we’ve got to figure it out for two halves.”
*We'll see if Beal makes the mid-season version, but he's certainly a preseason after his fourth game with at least 21 points. It's not just the scoring, but the efficiency. Beal sank 9 of 16 shots against Cleveland including 3 of 5 from beyond the 3-point arc. Over his last three games, the 20-year-old is shooting a staggering 57.1 percent ( 28 of 49) from the field and on his 3-point tries (8 for 14). He didn't take a free throw for the first time in preseason, but he also avoided any turnovers. Perhaps a touch curious that he played over 30 minutes for the fifth straight game, but the Wizards now have a week off before the October 30 regular season opener at Detroit. One thing we know for sure after the preseason is that Bradley Beal is ready. Not just for real games, but to make a legitimate run at truly becoming an All-Star this season.
*Earlier this week Ariza said not to fear about his perimeter shooting woes. The small forward clearly knew best seeing as Ariza drained 5 of 7 3-point attempts against the Cavs. He had only three games last season with at least five 3-point field goals. Not just a scorer against Cleveland, Ariza had a stat-stuffing night with eight rebounds, five assists and four steals in 31 minutes.
*Led by Ariza, Harrington (seven rebounds) and Trevor Booker (10 points, seven rebounds), the Wizards eked out a 43-42 rebounding advantage. Even without Emeka Okafor, Washington won the battle of the boards in six of seven games.
*Apparently a late night ball session helped Ariza and Harrington out of their respective shooting slumps.
"It’s funny because we were up last night til about six in the morning just talking about preseason and how we haven’t made any shots," Harrington told the Cleveland media. "We needed to get extra shots up and we came out tonight and made shots. That’s just how the game is sometimes. If you don’t keep putting that work in, push everybody in the gym to get extra shots up because that’s the only way you’re going to win at the end of the day. You can only play so much defense but you got to make shots.”
*One game after going without any assists, John Wall had four. He also missed six of seven field goal attempts including both tries from beyond the arc and finished with three points, matching his preseason low. Wall isn't exactly ending preseason on a roll and he finished 2 of 17 from 3-point territory, but at the same point, it's preseason.
*Washington finished with 29 assists on 40 made baskets. Providing the second unit with a steady floor presence, Eric Maynor had five assists in 18 minutes without a turnover.
*Of the regulars, only Jan Vesely and Glen Rice Jr. played less than 10 minutes. With a nod toward the likely regular season rotation, Rice only played 11 minutes over the final two preseason games.
*If this is indeed Josh Childress' last game with the Wizards, the veteran swingman went out with five points and four rebounds in 13 minutes. The odds were beyond long that Childress or any of the other camp invites would make the roster considering Washington has the maximum 15 players under guaranteed contract.
*Of note for the Cavs, Kyrie Irving (19 points) started at two-guard with Jarrett Jack at point. Irving said it was the first time he played off the ball since high school. The natural point guard has the perimeter shooting touch (4 of 7 3-pointers) to succeed in that role and Jack the veteran smarts to run the offense.