Thanks to Comcast SportsNet and their standard refusal to air Washington Wizards games, I, along with every other fan and member of the media was forced to resort to either radio transmission or a high-risk bootleg Euro site to observe the Wizards fall for the fourth time this preseason. This time to the Toronto Raptors 104-101.
While I countered relentless hair-graying pop-ups and buffering without the convenience of a box score, the Wizards found themselves in a tentatively more pleasant state to start the game, for Trevor Booker had finally made his return to the lineup.
Booker's return to the floor following a foot injury late last year served as a reminder of how dramatic his absence was, as he finished with 12 points on 6 of 8 shooting in only 17 minutes. While we weren’t exposed to his allegedly improved jump shot, we saw plenty of the old Book attacking the rim, crashing the glass and being immensely alert on defense.
Emeka Okafor had a relatively easy night in the office. Blessed with the appointment of Raptors rookie Jonas Valanciunas defending him, Okafor went to work in the paint, giving Jonas the business down in the post for easy buckets and getting him into foul trouble.
Speaking of foul trouble, Jan Vesely did his thing early on, earning two fouls in the first quarter. However, it was a more progressive night overall for Janny. The Czechsman displayed some of his usual teasing flashes, catching a few lobs and shooting fairly well. He finished with 11 points.
A.J. Price, who may often mindfreak you into thinking he’s John Legend, split his time at point guard with Jannero Pargo and had one of his best preseason outings as a Wiz Kid. Price efficiently ran the offense, played solidly on defense and finished with 8 assists. He even downed a few tre’s in the second half.
Other notables: Per usual, Jordan Crawford led the team in shot attempts. They weren’t pretty ones, though, as he shot only 4 of 14. He did, however, continue to show his abilities to dish the ball, finishing with 7 assists.
Trevor Ariza, who recently has been coined “Rashard Lewis 2.0” by yours truly, had himself a typical $23 million night...if you’re Otis Smith. Lazy ball, missed layups and just seeming aimless on the court may have this guy spectating during opening tip-offs this year. And Martell Webster is doing him no further justice. Martell remained productive, scoring 11 points and grabbing 5 boards as he continues to impress.
Good tidings courtesy of Mr. Michael Lee: All three nursing Wizards had some positive injury updates. Nene, who is aiming to return by opening day is said to be on pace to do just that. Kevin Seraphin is also progressing. Coach Wittman has declared that they are in no rush to get him back on the floor and are cautiously monitoring his rehab. John Wall, who is expected to be out the longest, is also making strides. Wall has been traveling with the team, performing various basketball-related drills and has not suffered any apparent setbacks.