Sports fans all over the Washington DC and surrounding regions are set to follow their favorite teams at a whole new level, following the release of Monumental Sports Network’s new OTT subscription service.
Washington Wizards fans have got to be sitting there scratching their heads in confusion. Jan Vesely the 6th overall pick in the 2011 draft, by the Wizards, is leading his Czech Republic National team to a current 2-0 standing in EuroBasket 2015.
During his time with the Wizards, Vesely’s athleticism was always on display but he never quite got it right at NBA level. It seems that he can get it right however, for his national team and if he keeps this level of play up, the Czech Republic won’t be finishing 13th like they did in 2013.
Through two games, the Czech Republic is sitting on top of Group D above European basketball powerhouse Lithuania.
In game one they took on Estonia with Vesely playing 22 minutes and finishing with a statline of 16pts, 8rbds, 1ast, 1stl and 1blk on 63.6% shooting. The Czech Republic ended up defeating Estonia 80-57 in what was always going to be a tough one for the Estonians. Vesely was simply dominant inside the paint, his athleticism and skill clearly on display against an Estonian line up that had no answers for him.
Game two saw the Czech Republic take on the Ukrainians and they again came away with the win, defeating Ukraine 78-64. In this game Vesely played 26 minutes and finished with 19pts, 9rbds, 3asts, 1stl and 1blk on 64.3% shooting. He was again dominant in the post and the Czech team had a game plan to get out and run against Ukraine. With Kyrylo Fesenko the match up against Vesely, he was no chance of keeping up with him throughout the game.
So through two games, Vesely is averaging 17.5ppg, 8rpg, 2apg, 1spg, 1bpg in 24mpg.
They next take on Latvia who are currently 1-1 in the tournament having defeated Belgium but lost to Lithuania. The Latvians have an even spread of points and minutes per game across their roster and their strength lies in their backcourt. New York Knicks draft pick Kristaps Porzingis is a big loss for the team though and that will mean the backcourt duo of Janis Strelnieks and Dairis Bertans will need to get hot from the outside in almost every game for the Latvians to do any real damage.
Derrick Rose makes his return to the Chicago Bulls as they suited up for their first preseason game, against the Washington Wizards. Aside from Rose the key players to look out for in this game were: Pau Gasol, to see how he fits in with his new team, Doug McDermott, the highly regarded sharpshooting rookie for the Bulls, Paul Pierce, new to the Washington Wizards and back in a starting lineup and Bradley Beal and John Wall, one of the most exciting backcourts in the NBA.
The starters for the Bulls were: Pau Gasol, Mike Dunleavy, Joakim Noah, Jimmy Butler and Derrick Rose
The starters for the Wizards were: Paul Pierce, Kris HUmphries, Marcin Gortat, Bradley Beal and John Wall
Derrick Rose made a good start in his return, getting the first points of the game with a shot off the glass.
Marcin Gortat (who, by the way, is rocking an awesome mohawk) got off to a fast start, making the first five Wizards points on the back of a three point play and a good inside feed from Beal.
With 8:57 to go in the first, Jimmy Butler was fouled hard by Paul Pierce at half court. It appeared as though Pierce had clotheslined Butler and as the refs were reviewing the foul a bit of a scuffle broke out between the teams.
Remember that these two teams don’t like each other, going back to the postseason last season when Butler, Noah and Nene got into it and had to be separated.
Only 53secs later Pierce picked up his third personal foul but Randy Wittman kept him in the game, being preseason it doesn’t really matter too much.
With 2:38 left on the clock Doug McDermott got his first point in the NBA by getting to the charity stripe and making one of the two free throws.
At the end of the first it was the Wizards leading 25-21, Gortat with 7pts for the Wizards and Rose with 9pts for the Bulls.
McDermott came to life early in the second as he scored 6 of the Bulls first 8pts of the quarter, on the back of a technical free throw and two made three point shots.
It was then time for the Wizards to hit a couple of threes thanks to Glen Rice Jnr, taking the lead back out to 8pts.
With about 24secs left in the half Jimmy Butler stole the outlet pass by the Wizards, strolled in and missed a wide open layup, Noah then missed the wide open tip and they both stuffed up the rebound before a Wizards player knocked it out of court. Wizards lead 45-44 at the half, Gortat with 10pts and Rose with 11pts.
Both teams were incredibly even in the stats, not just the scoreboard, as they headed into the rooms for the break.
The second half began with Mike Dunleavy hitting a jumper to put the Bulls in front, however it turned out that it would be short lived.
Beal and Wall stepped up for the Wizards and on the back of an inside shot from Gortat, they took a 6pt lead with 6:01 remaining in the third.
After a Pau Gasol jumper the Wizards took a timeout with 5:13 remaining and it turned out to be the wrong play.
Between that timeout and one taken by the Bulls with 2:59 on the clock, the Wizards only scored one point while the Bulls closed to within one.
The lead was still 1pt to the Wizards at the end of the third, 64-63.
It took almost a minute and half before either team scored in the final quarter, a layup by DeJuan Blair off an Andre Miller assist to make the score 66-63.
Nikola Mirotic gave Bulls fans a taste of what he can do for this team with a 26ft three pointer to put the Bulls back in front.
After an official timeout he then blocked a DeJuan Blair shot and made the three pointer again to extend the Bulls lead to 4pts. Unfortunately he then committed a couple of fouls sending Kevin Seraphin and the Glen Rice Jnr to the line for the Wizards who brought it back to a single point.
It’s going to be topsy-turvy for Bulls fans with Mirotic, because with 5:48 remaining in the game he hit his third three in a row and put the lead back to 4pts.
Rice Jnr took over for the Wizards hitting a mid range jumper, before dishing the assist to Damion James and following that up with a three point make of his own. Bulls took a full timeout with 4:03 remaining, down by 5pts.
It was to no avail though as Rice Jnr iced the game with a couple of free throws to push the lead to 6pts with 42secs left.
The Wizards win the game 85-81, Rice Jnr with 18pts and Mirotic with 17pts.
Derrick Rose looked good in his return to the court for the Bulls, scoring 11pts and 4rbds in 14mins of playing time. He had good mobility and showed some good strength as he went up for a couple of contested layups early on.
Pau Gasol looked like he fitted in well with his new team – 8pts, 8rbds, 3blks, 2stls in his 25mins.
The Bulls fans also got a good glimpse at the future with Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott both showing enough in their first hit out at the NBA level.
The Wizards, well, with Gortat’s new mohawk…all teams better beware!