The Washington Wizards hope that Aaron Williams's coming-out party wasn't a one-time event.
The free agent power forward, who has missed most of the preseason with back spasms, scored 13 first-quarter points then watched his teammates cruise to a 112-99 victory tonight over the Cleveland Cavaliers before an announced crowd of 5,127 at Baltimore Arena.
The Wizards led by 26 points in the third quarter before allowing the Cavaliers to get as close as 107-98 with 1 minute 35 seconds left in the game. It was the first time this preseason Washington has scored at least 100 points.
The victory improved Washington's preseason record to 2-1. The Wizards avenged a 95-83 loss to Cleveland (3-2) on Thursday.
Williams did not play after the first quarter because he suffered a deep right thigh bruise after he was kneed by forward Andrew DeClercq on a baseline drive. Coach Gar Heard said Williams would be out for roughly five days and probably won't play in any of the Wizards' three remaining preseason games.
"I'm happy that he had a chance to get out and play," Heard said of Williams. "I'm not disappointed because he didn't hurt his back. At least he showed us what he could do."
Williams said he had no discomfort in his back but was disappointed with another injury.
"It's unfortunate that I took the knee because it cut my night short," Williams said. "It's frustrating because I've never really missed any games or practices because of an injury."
In just eight minutes, Williams showed the athleticism that could prove a boon to the Wizards, whose overall talent seems greater than at any point in recent history. Playing out of position at center, Williams substituted for Jahidi White midway through the first quarter and immediately made an alley-oop dunk off a pinpoint pass from Juwan Howard.
Later in the period, Williams scored six consecutive points, including another alley-oop jam and a nifty jump-hook from the right baseline. He added a no-look backdoor pass to a cutting Tracy Murray, who made the score 30-20 after a two-handed dunk.
The left-handed Williams closed the period with a thunderous dunk from the left baseline over Cleveland rookie A.J. Bramlett.
Michael Smith, who started at power forward, also had a strong game, grabbing three rebounds and scoring 10 points. Chris Whitney, who started at point guard in place of Rod Strickland, scored a game-high 21. Howard scored 15 points.