Recap: Westbrook makes D.C. debut, Wizards win preseason finale
FINAL: Wizards 99 | Pistons 96
Wizards: Thomas Bryant (22), Bradley Beal (15), Robin Lopez (13)
Pistons: Derrick Rose (14), Jerami Grant (14), Josh Jackson (13)
The Wizards defeated the Pistons 99-96 Saturday night at Capital One Arena in both teams’ final preseason outing. Washington rode a 63-point first half and a 22-point performance from Thomas Bryant to the win. The game also marked the Wizards debut for newly acquired Russell Westbrook and the preseason debut for Davis Bertans. Westbrook played 17 minutes, all of which came in the first half, totaling eight points, seven rebounds and three assists.
After the Wizards built up a 14-point halftime lead, Detroit made it interesting down the stretch. The Pistons defense held Washington to 38.1% shooting in the third quarter and cut their lead in half. After Detroit tied the game at 89 with 7:01 remaining, 3-pointers on consecutive possessions from Jerome Robinson and Troy Brown Jr. put the Wizards back on top, but Detroit hung around. The Pistons cut the lead back down to two with 17 seconds left. Wizards rookie guard Cassius Winston made one of two free throws to put the team up three and a defensive stop on the other end sealed the Washington win.
THREE THINGS TO KNOW
Beal, Westbrook shine in first game action together
The first half of Saturday night’s game was the closest the Wizards have been to full strength all preseason long. Rui Hachimura (bilateral eye, conjunctivitis) was the only player inactive while Westbrook and Bertans made their preseason debuts alongside Beal, who saw his first action Thursday night. The results were promising. Beal got the scoring started with a driving layup, his first of seven first-quarter points. Westbrook scored six points of his own in the opening frame as the backcourt duo got to the basket with ease. As a team, Washington shot 67.8% from inside the arc in the first half and recorded assists on 15-of-25 field goals on their way to a 63-point first half.
Wizards head coach Scott Brooks experimented with several lineup combinations built around the guards. Beal and Westbrook each started the game and played a short stint together in the second quarter, but each got run as the leader of the offense.
“(It was) great,” Brooks said postgame. “I like the fact that they were looking for other players and not just playing back and forth. Russell is going to find whoever is open. He’s going to make the right play – and Brad is the same way. But there’s a time in the game when you have to look for certain players and they know that as well. That’s why the transition over two and half weeks has been seamless. It’s been great. They’re both about the right things. They compete.”
Bryant dominates alongside star guards
Aside from Beal, Westbrook and the fans that get to watch them on a nightly basis, the biggest beneficiary of the Wizards’ All-Star backcourt may be Thomas Bryant. In the first half of Saturday’s game, Bryant outscored both guards, totaling a team-high 14 points on 4-7 (.571) from the field and 1-3 (.333) from 3-point range in that time. Three of Bryant’s four field goals in the first half were assisted by either Beal or Westbrook.“He played well,” Brooks said. “That’s the thing with Russell – you run and you get to your spots and he’s going to find you. There are going to be nights when (Bryant) gets 25 or 30 and there are going to be nights where Brad’s going to get 25 or 50 and there are going to be nights where Russell gets a bunch of points.”
Bryant was coming off a standout defensive performance against Detroit on Thursday, recording game highs in rebounds (8) and blocks (4).
Deni does it all
Wizards rookie Deni Avdija wrapped up his first-ever preseason strong showing off the diverse skillset that made him such a sought-after prospect in this year’s draft. Avdija finished the win over Detroit with nine points – including a pair of threes – 10 rebounds, two assists and three steals. Avdija closes the three-game preseason slate averaging 10.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists, shooting 54.5% from the field and 45.4% from 3-point range.
“He’s played hard,” Brooks said. “He’s tough. He has great size and he’s going to make us a better team. He’s done things as a starter, he’s done things coming off the bench…He’s making a good case (to start).”
NEXT UP: Wizards at Sixers / Wednesday, December 23 / 7:00 P.M. / Wells Fargo Center
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT
RUSS + TB = pic.twitter.com/zF46Yn8bZa— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) December 20, 2020