Recap: Beal leads with 18 points as Wizards fall in preseason opener
FINAL: Wizards 119 | Rockets 125
Wizards: Bradley Beal (18), Aaron Holiday (17), Spencer Dinwiddie (14)
Rockets: Kevin Porter Jr. (25), Jalen Green (12), Daniel Theis (12)
The Wizards opened preseason play on Tuesday night, falling to the Rockets 125-119 at the Toyota Center. Bradley Beal led the way for Washington with 18 points, shooting 6-12 (.500) from the field and 5-5 (1.000) from the free throw line. Kevin Porter Jr. scored a game-high 25 points to go along with four rebounds and five assists to lead the way for Houston.
With a handful of impact players sidelined for the first outing of the season, Unseld Jr. started Beal, Spencer Dinwiddie, Corey Kispert, Kyle Kuzma and Daniel Gafford. The Wizards’ first field goal of the night came off a put-back dunk from Gafford, who finished the game with 10 points on a perfect 5-5 (1.000) from the field. Washington trailed 30-23 after the first quarter and were led by a combined nine points from Aaron Holiday and Montrezl Harrell off the bench. Holiday started the night 4-5 (.800) from the field, including 2-2 (1.000) from deep, scoring 10 points in his first nine minutes of game action. The Wizards opened the second quarter on an 11-4 run, tying the game at 34 apiece on another powerful put-back slam from Gafford off a missed layup from Dinwiddie. Beal caught fire in the second quarter to lead Washington to a five-point lead in the final minute of the first half.
Washington found some rhythm from deep early in the third quarter as Kispert, Dinwiddie and Kuzma each knocked down triples in the opening minutes of the second half. Kuzma’s 3-pointer gave Washington a 76-69 lead. Kuzma and Kispert each knocked down another set of threes a few minutes later, giving Washington a nine-point lead, its largest of the night, with 5:45 left in the third. Houston, however, worked its way back into the game, going on a 16-5 run to close the third quarter. After the Rockets broke a 117-117 tie with a 3-pointer in the final minutes, Jordan Goodwin knocked down a difficult step-back jumper to pull the Wizards back within one. Houston knocked down a pair of clutch free throws on the other end to go back up by three points with 14 seconds remaining, putting Washington away for good.
THREE THINGS TO KNOW
Wizards get everyone involved in first preseason game
Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said earlier this week that he planned to get as many players as possible involved in Tuesday night’s game, saying one of his primary goals for the preseason was to experiment with a number of different rotations and lineup combinations. All five Wizards starters scored at least 10 points, shooting a combined 24-48 (.500) from the field, and all 15 players that dressed saw game action, including 11 that played at least 13 minutes. Five players came off the bench to score at least five points: Holiday (15), Goodwin (9), Harrell (9), Bertans (5), Echenique (5) and Neto (5).
Beal leads the way for Washington
After scoring just four points on 1-4 (.250) from the field in the first quarter, Beal scored 12 points in a four-minute span in the second quarter and led all scorers with 16 points at the break. Beal has been one of the best guards in the league at consistently finding his way to the free throw line, averaging nearly eight free throw attempts per game each of the last two seasons. He continued that trend on Tuesday night, hitting all five of his free throws – all of which came in the first half. Beal finished with 18 points and a plus-four rating in 21 minutes of action.
Kispert efficient in preseason debut
Kispert came into the NBA as one of the most well-regarded shooters in the 2021 NBA Draft, but showed in his first preseason action that he has more to his game than just range. In addition to shooting 2-6 (.333) from deep, the rookie was active on the defensive end and knocked down a pair mid-range jumpers and a driving layup late in the second quarter. Kispert finished the night with 12 points on 5-9 (.555) shooting.