The Washington Wizards are now 2-3 in 2014 thanks in part to the elevated play of forward-center Jan Vesely, who scored a season-high 12 points off the bench Wednesday in Washington's 102-96 road victory over the New Orleans Pelicans. Unlike traditional Vesely games of the past, the third-year forward scored 10 of his 12 points in the first half of play.
Vesely kicked off the end of the first quarter with a jump shot via an assist from none other than Nene, which led to an 8-point second quarter in which the Czech forward nailed a couple hook shots, an alley oop dunk via John Wall, and missed the only two free throws he would see in the game. The 25% free throw shooter, nonetheless, helped give the Wizards a 61-44 lead by halftime.
While Vesely was cooking, both Bradley Beal and John Wall were on mark. The duo delivered 6 of Washington's 10 three-point makes on the night, with an even three each. Nene chipped in 11 off the bench, and both Trevor Ariza (21 points, 10 rebounds) and Marcin Gortat (11 points, 14 rebounds) finished with double-doubles in points and rebounding. The Pelicans did rally in the fourth quarter, as center-forward Anthony Davis finished with 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting (including 1-for-1 from downtown), but the Wizards survived.
Vesely's 6-for-8 night brings up an interesting statistic for Vesely fans worldwide. When Jan makes 5 or more baskets in a game, Washington is 6-5 (2011-2014, Basketball Reference). Some of those games were blowouts, but quite a few of them were influenced by Vesely, none perhaps more than Wednesday night against the Pelicans.
Washington has a tough game ahead of them Friday as they travel to Indiana to face the Pacers (7:00 p.m. ET). If Vesely can score 10-plus against the likes of Roy Hibbert and David West, it might not quite be ESPN front cover time, but the conversation would get a lot more interesting.