- The Washington Times - Friday, October 31, 2014

The Wizards left Florida with a needed split before Saturday night’s home opener against the Milwaukee Bucks. It also should be noted the road split came against divisional opponents. Let’s get to five takeaways from the trip:

Paul Pierce is still Paul Pierce late in the game. Pierce is working with his new teammates in several aspects, including help rotations and entry pass angles. They are all getting used to each in the regular season since the preseason was so disjointed, the starting five hardly played together. One thing was simple and clear at the end of the Orlando game: get the ball to Pierce and let him do what he does. “It’s never scripted, but that’s what I’m capable of giving this team,” Pierce said. “Another guy to go to in crucial situations. I think there’s a number of guys you can go to, and me being one of them, that’s what I can give us.

John Wall’s efficiency is crucial. In the opener, Wall had 11 assists and six turnovers. They lost. In Orlando, he took apart Magic rookie point guard Elfrid Payton on the way to a stat line only three other Wizards (Gilbert Arenas, Michael Adams and Rod Strickland) have come up with. Wall scores 30 points, had 12 assists, five rebounds and two steals. Most important, he did not undo his assists with turnovers.

Nene’s physical play is needed. After the loss to the Heat, coach Randy Wittman essentially said the Wizards played soft. The return of Nene in Orlando helped bring a tougher brand of play, particularly on offense. With Drew Gooden III in the starting lineup for the opener when Nene was suspended, the Wizards spread the floor much more. With Nene back, they were able to work through him in the post. This also helps Marcin Gortat. At times, his man will leave to double Nene and that produced two easy scores Thursday night.

It was a struggle for Kelvin Seraphin. After losing weight in the offseason, Seraphin said he felt quicker. There were no positive results from the Florida swing, however. Seraphin committed four personal fouls in just less than 10 minutes combined on the floor. When he entered the game against Orlando, the Magic rallied. Nikola Vucevic scores three times on him and he committed an offensive foul. After consecutive hoops from Vucevic, Wittman yelled at Seraphin, “That’s 2-for-2!” After he was taken out of the game just 1:56 after entering, Marcin Gortat had a long conversation with Seraphin on the bench. Gortat delivered emphatic words and Seraphin stared straight ahead before saying, “OK.”

Temple’s start bodes well for when Beal returns. It’s a tiny sample, but two games in, Garrett Temple is shooting 44.4 percent from behind the 3-point line. He’s a career 30.7 percent 3-point shooter and shot a woeful 20.7 percent from 3 last season. If Temple can be a reasonable threat from the corner — say 37-39 percent — he’ll turn a very serviceable role player because of his defense. Temple said he worked on his jumper throughout the offseason and his confidence in that shot is up. A solid starting shooting it helps, too.

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