Earl Barron was the last guy to make the Wizards' roster and the last guy to get on the floor in their season opener.
Once he entered the game against Cleveland, he also never left, making an impression in the paint for a depleted frontcourt desperately in search of one. Barron was involved in every moment of a 16-0 run that turned a 14-point deficit into a two-point lead. Playing the final 16 minutes of the 94-84 loss to the Cavaliers, he finished with eight points, eight rebounds, one block and one steal.
It was a far cry from the extra body that the 31-year-old journeyman center appeared to be when training camp began.
"He was huge for us," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "Those are the type of guys you hope to have in that position, and that's why we kept him. ... He's proven that he might not play the first quarter, second quarter, third quarter. But all of a sudden throw him in, and he's ready."
|Celtics at Wizards|
|When » Saturday, 7 p.m.|
|Where » Verizon Center|
|TV » CSN|
Barron's return to the NBA is a surprise. He spent time with five different teams in the past three seasons along with stints overseas and in the NBA Development League since winning an NBA championship ring with Miami in 2006. But he may have foreshadowed his early impact for Washington when he started the Wizards' final preseason game against San Antonio and had 12 points and 10 rebounds playing much of the evening against Tim Duncan.
"It was a long road getting here," Barron said. "There's nothing to lose for me now. Hopefully, I've given Coach confidence that when my named is called, that he'll call my name and I'll go out there and try to perform the same way every night."
With Nene still out heading into Washington's first home game of the year, the Wizards (0-1) need every big man they can to produce. The Wizards were 20th in the NBA in rebounding last season, and Anderson Varejao's career-high 23 rebounds demonstrated their disadvantage starting 6-foot-8 Trevor Booker at power forward.
"He can't get into a jumping match with a guy like Varejao," Wittman said. "So I've got to take and move him out of the way and let the ball come and someone go get it instead of you and I going for the same ball above my head. ... I thought at the end of the game Earl and Chris [Singleton] did the best job for us in terms of trying to make that position and secure that their guy didn't get the ball."
They could get some reinforcements in the paint this weekend, though. Third-year center Kevin Seraphin (right calf strain) returned to practice for the first time in three weeks Thursday and could make his season debut against the Boston Celtics (0-1) on Saturday.