Wizards' preseason home debut an up-and-down affair

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Sports,NBA,Wizards,Craig Stouffer

Rally against Knicks falls short at Verizon Center

Oblivious to the loss by his hometown baseball team at the other end of town, Bradley Beal played like he's ready to make a living in Washington. In his home debut, the rookie from St. Louis led the Wizards back from an early double-digit deficit and set the tone for a season-long battle at shooting guard with Jordan Crawford.

The Wizards had reasons to be encouraged and discouraged by the 108-101 preseason loss to the Knicks. Washington reduced its fouls from its opener but gave up a whopping 18 3-pointers on 33 attempts (54.5 percent). Beal finished with 15 points, five assists and five rebounds off the bench. But 12 came in the second period, with the other three too late to mount a final surge.

Crawford had 17 to lead Washington (0-2), while Steve Novak had 21 and J.R. Smith had 20 for the Knicks (1-0).

The 19-year-old Beal found himself almost immediately matched up against 39-year-old New York Knicks guard Jason Kidd, who is embarking on his 19th season in the NBA. Shortly after Beal entered the contest, the first quarter ended with the Wizards having allowed the Knicks 38 points (yes, that's 19 times two). At one point during Washington's second-quarter comeback, Beal was a plus-19.

The one-and-done star at Florida made a recognizable 20-foot jumper for his first points but showed versatility and strength beyond his signature skill. He attacked the basket with confidence, drawing contact and knocking down six of seven free throws. Leading the second unit with Martell Webster (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Chris Singleton, Beal and the Wizards went on a 22-0 run and held the Knicks scoreless for the first seven and a half minutes of the second quarter en route to a 56-53 halftime lead.

The Wizards' starting unit held its own in the third quarter before Beal's group was undone in the fourth.

With a far more meaningful contest across town climaxing with a walk-off home run, Verizon Center was not even half full. Those who were in attendance saw the Wizards' pregame video before player introductions cut short because of technical difficulties.

Crawford unearthed a step back 3-pointer for an early 9-5 lead, but the Knicks responded with a 16-2 run that included 3s from Carmelo Anthony (17 points), Smith and Kidd. Forty-year-old Kurt Thomas, starting for the injured Amar'e Stoudemire, forced a hesitant Kevin Seraphin (10 points, four rebounds) into a turnover and then hit a 16-footer at the other end. Anthony finished the period with 12 points, and the Knicks hit six 3-pointers for a 38-21 lead.

Fighting off a bout of food poisoning, new center Emeka Okafor missed his second straight chance to make his Wizards debut. Trevor Booker (left hamstring strain) also joined Wall (left patella tendon) and Nene (left foot plantar fasciitis) among the wounded. The team was scheduled to leave town Friday for the first of six consecutive road games to conclude the preseason.

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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Craig Stouffer

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner