Okafor likely to miss third Wizards preseason game

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Sports,Pick and Roll,Craig Stouffer

One day after missing his second chance to make his Wizards season debut, Emeka Okafor was still recovering from a bout of food poisoning/stomach flu and said it had cost him 12 pounds on the scale.

With the need to put that weight back on and practice at full speed – which hasn’t been able to since Tuesday – Okafor is unlikely to feature in the Wizards third preseason game at Cleveland on Saturday.

Trevor Booker did some work at practice as he battles back from a strained left hamstring, and Chris Singleton got the day off after banging up his shoulder a bit in Thursday’s loss to the Knicks.

Limited numbers or not, Wizards coach Randy Wittman intends to shuffle the units that he’s used predominantly in Washington’s first two games.

Against New York, the starting unit was A.J. Price, Jordan Crawford, Trevor Ariza, Jan Vesely and Kevin Seraphin.

The second unit was formed by Jannero Pargo, Bradley Beal, Martell Webster, Singleton and Brian Cook.

“We’re going to change the lineup,” Wittman said. “Right now, I’m going to get a feel of five guys playing together in different combinations together, to look at it for that reason. I’m never going to sub five guys out. But I want to look at the five that I’ve got out there, kind of together, as much as you can, but I’m never going to do five and five. But the minutes on the floor will be a lot together with different groups.”

Ariza could be the first candidate for a change after shooting a combined 3 for 15 in his first two games as a Wizard.

“He’s, I think, trying to fit in,” Wittman said. “What he’s doing is determining plays in his mind no matter what the defense is doing, and he can’t do that. He’s got to do a better job. I thought one of the first possessions of the game, he had a wide open three, and he turned it down and drove it into three guys and tried to get a shot off. It’s hard in this league to get an open jump shot, and if we pass up an open jump shot, the next shot is going to be a bad shot, guaranteed.”

Webster, meanwhile, picked up a double-double against New York (12 points, 10 rebounds) – a stat line preferred over his 18 points and mere two rebounds against Charlotte – and Wittman also noted Singleton’s effectiveness despite having to play power forward due to the limited bodies available.

“He gives us a punch off the bench,” Wittman said of Webster. “He can space the floor, he can shoot it, but he’s done a nice job, putting it on the floor a little bit more than I thought and rebounding. That’s huge for us. And I think Chris has done a good job for us, rebounding. And when you’ve got two guys that are really your small forwards, getting nine, 10 rebounds, that helps.”

There’s also plenty to be evaluated at point guard, with Pargo a full-on duel with Price and Crawford and Beal demonstrating their strengths at shooting guard. With Nene and Okafor both out, Cook, Earl Bannon and Shavlik Randolph will all still see minutes going forward. Cook, however, may have a leg up. As a returner from last year, he’s the only one of the three with his own locker at Verizon Center. The other two have to share.

Speaking of the locker room, which was redone in darker wood while the team was at George Mason for training camp, Wittman joked it had the feel of a “smoking lounge.” Funny, he was the guy who referred to his players as taking a puff from cigarette last year when describing their bad habits.

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Craig Stouffer

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner