Swingman shows growth entering second season

No sequence may have better demonstrated Chris Singleton's growth entering his second season in the NBA than his run-in with Dwyane Wade on Wednesday.

In a battle for a loose ball during the second quarter of the Wizards' 101-94 preseason win over the Miami Heat in Kansas City, Mo., Singleton got caught awkwardly bent into the body of the All-Star guard. Wade, who had grabbed the ball, swung his elbow to clear space, but that meant it skimmed just over Singleton's head, too. The Wizards swingman wasn't impressed.

Words were exchanged before the two were quickly separated. But Singleton spoke loud and clear a few plays later, blowing by Wade down the lane for a vicious one-handed slam.

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Wizards at Spurs
Where » AT&T Center,
San Antonio
When » Friday, 8:30 p.m.

"We were both into the game," Singleton told reporters. "That's how it is, and we kind of let our emotions get the best of us."

But had it been last year, Singleton would have been the victim. There was hardly a night during his 51 starts that the rookie from Florida State didn't have a target on his back, the unfortunate byproduct of playing small forward in the NBA.

"I didn't know they were going to come at me like they did," Singleton said during training camp. "I think they looked before the game and were like, 'Who's the new kid,' saw the 'R' beside my name."

Singleton has turned the tables in his first full-length preseason, averaging 8.4 points and 5.6 rebounds and shooting 53 percent from the field in five games (he missed two with a bruised shoulder). He had 17 points on 7-for-11 shooting from the field against Miami. He continued his fill-in work at power forward with both Nene and Kevin Seraphin injured and had no problem sizing up Shane Battier and former teammate Rashard Lewis.

"He's got to make and take open shots," Wizards coach Randy Witt?man said. "Can't turn down open shots. He's worked this summer on getting to the rim, getting to the foul line more, not being strictly a spot-up shooter, and those are the things I'm looking for."

Singleton was supposed to be the one shuffled down the pecking order after the Wizards' roster was beefed up during offseason. Instead, he and Martell Webster, who had a team-high 23 points against the Heat, continue to put pressure on Trevor Ariza, the presumed starter at small forward entering training camp. Ariza had his worst game of the preseason against the Heat, going 0-for-6 and finishing with three points.

Singleton admits he was thrown into the fire as a rookie. He always has been equally as honest about the Wizards, saying, "It means we're losers," last year after the team started 0-8. But that means he's not sugarcoating the change he sees so far this year.

"I think it all started when Nene got here and the coaching change, that we want to win," he said. "We showed that we can win at the end of last season. Just have to come over to this year. Once we get everybody healthy, I really think we can make the playoffs."