Nets 98, Wizards 88: a few observations

Sports,Pick and Roll,Craig Stouffer

It’s hard not to like the stage lighting or the floor or the setting itself for the Brooklyn Nets. Not a bad thing for the Wizards to get the honor of being the first visiting opponent inside the new building. The 98-88 loss was also expected. It’s preseason, after all.

At least Emeka Okafor is back. While the Wizards’ highest-paid player made his debut, the Wizards added Kevin Seraphin (calf) to an injury list that already includes Chris Singleton (shoulder), Trevor Booker (hamstring), Nene (plantar fasciitis) and John Wall.

Okafor provided a solid, respected veteran presence in the low post, finishing with 12 points and six rebounds. Not bad, but Washington is desperate for some competition at power forward and center.

The more Jan Vesely plays, the more he may start to cede his minutes to Booker, who isn’t even healthy. Vesely was 0 for 3 from the field with zero points, five rebounds and five fouls. It’s hard to shake his media comment of “maybe some pounds, not much,” when asked if he’d put on any weight in the offseason. The Wizards aren’t going to make him stronger; he’s got to figure out how to do that for himself.

Speaking of guys who aren’t known for their love of lifting weights, Andray Blatche was effective and impressive in stretches against his former team, with 16 points, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block. He’s playing his way onto the Nets roster. Keep in mind, he was at his best tonight against second unit Wizards players. The expectations for Blatche aren’t to be a starter in Brooklyn – that was as big a part of the problem for Blatche in his final years in Washington as anything. He’s showing that he has the ability to rededicate himself. Sustaining that for a full season, in whatever role Nets coach Avery Johnson sees fit, is his challenge.

Bradley Beal (13 points, four rebounds) continues to be solid, and one has to wonder if there’s a breakout preseason game in store. And yet, there’s really no reason to dismiss Jordan Crawford (12 points, three assists). There were a few minutes there at the end of the Nets game where they were both on the floor together. That hasn’t happened much so far in the preseason due to the first and second units that coach Randy Wittman has predominantly used. Beal looked somewhat fatigued down the stretch, too, after registering 29.5 minutes on the floor, his most yet.

Blatche’s performance notwithstanding, a good little battle between Deron Williams and A.J. Price at the end of the contest will set the stage for when these teams meet again during the season. Price took out his frustration on a no-call at the offensive end with a good charge into Williams on the break. But Williams also lowered his shoulder and tried to straight intimidate Price – not happening to a Long Island native in Brooklyn. Both got technical fouls for the fracas while Price also got the personal.

Williams then went hard, pounding the ball between his legs first, against Price in the waning seconds with the game already decided. But in driving past Price, Williams then got called for a charge, which was drawn by Beal. Somehow, no matter who it is, the Wizards have a way of getting under Williams’ skin.

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