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Wizards storm back, but lose to Heat as Bradley Beal's final shot rims out

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Wizards storm back, but lose to Heat as Bradley Beal's final shot rims out

The Washington Wizards lost the Miami Heat 91-88 on Friday night at Capital One Arena. Here's analysis of what went down...

Burn the tape: After holding on to win in Miami on Wednesday, the Wizards knew it would be a difficult task beating the Heat twice in a span of three days. Sure enough, the Heat played much better and the Wizards, well, they played much worse.

Despite winning on Wednesday, the third quarter was the Wizards' worst of the season. On Friday, they had their worst half in several years. They managed just 29 points, their lowest since they scored 27 against the Warriors on March 23, 2015. It was the second-lowest points for any NBA team in a half this season. The Heat held the Jazz to 25 in a half on Nov. 10.

The Wizards couldn't get shots to fall and didn't have their usual pace and movement on offense. They shot just 38.1 percent for the game and 28.6 for three. They went 0-for-13 from three in the first half. They will want to move past this one very quickly.

The Wizards were down as much as 25 points and stormed back to make it a one-point game with 11.3 seconds left. Bradley Beal, though, missed a shot that would have tied the game in the closing seconds when they were down two.

The Wizards dropped to 9-6 on the year with the loss. On the bright side, the Wizards have kept their opponents to under 100 points in each of those games, their longest such streak since 2015.

[RELATED: JOHN WALL NUTMEGS HASSAN WHITESIDE]

Wall was way off: Friday was an off-night for John Wall that you rarely see. He went scoreless in the first three quarters and didn't score his first points until he got a three to go down with 5:25 left in the fourth. Wall finished 3-for-12 from the field and finished with eight points and eight assists.

Wall was not his usual self in many ways. He wasn't alone, as many guys shot poorly, but Wall is one of the most consistent players in the NBA.

The Heat did a good job of preventing dribble penetration and stopping Wall on the fastbreak. That's how he generates a lot of his offense and credit to Miami for taking it away.

After the game, Wall revealed that his left knee was bothering him due to fluid that has built up following IVs he was given last weekend.

Beal woke up late: Beal had the best night of anyone on the Wizards, but it didn't start out that way. He had just six points midway through the third quarter before he got going. Once he did, there wasn't much the Heat could do to stop him.

Beal almost singlehandedly made this a game with a barrage of threes at the end of the third quarter. He hit three of them and two of them were right in the faces of Heat players guarding him.

This was his best three during that sequence:

Beal ended up with 26 points on 9-for-22 shooting.

Smith played for a change: With the Wizards down double digits in the third quarter, head coach Scott Brooks turned to a guy we haven't seen much from this year. Yes, Jason Smith finally got some burn.

Smith hadn't played in three straight games and had logged just 12 total minutes in the last seven. But he provided instant energy like he usually does. Smith converted an and-1 in the third quarter and came back with a layup in the fourth on a goaltending call. 

Smith didn't exactly shut down Hassan Whiteside (22 points, 16 rebounds), but the Wizards' other bigs didn't have much luck either.

Olynyk welcomed back: When Kelly Olynyk checked in for the Heat in the first half, he was met with a cascade of boos. It was his first game at Capital One Arena since the second round playoff series last spring between the Wizards and Celtics. Even now that he's in a different uniform, Wizards fans can't stand the guy.

Up next: The Wizards are off Saturday before hitting the road. They first stop in Toronto for a 3:30 game on Sunday. They play the Bucks in Milwaukee the next day in their first back-to-back set of the 2017-18 season. Both games are on NBC Sports Washington.

[RELATED: KELLY OUBRE'S DAB IMMORTALIZED IN NBA 2K18]

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Must-see moments from Wizards' loss to Cavs, including John Wall's big block

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Must-see moments from Wizards' loss to Cavs, including John Wall's big block

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 106-99 loss to the Cavs on Sunday night...

1. The Cavs and Wizards aren't much of a heated rivalry anymore, but early on in this one Kelly Oubre, Jr. and J.R. Smith had an interesting moment.

For some reason Smith decided to push Oubre to the ground and he earned a technical foul for doing so. Oubre then did some pushups when he hit the ground. Oubre has a tendency to do pushups midgame, but this was probably the best instance of them:

2. It was another game for the Wizards so of course Mike Scott scored a bunch of points, as he's been prone to do in recent weeks. Scott dropped 19 points with four rebounds and four assists.

This is when he started to get hot, when he hit threes on back-to-back possessions in the first half:

[RELATED: CAVS' ADVANTAGE IN DEPTH ON DISPLAY VS. WIZARDS]

3. It was John Wall's third game back since he recovered from a swollen left knee and once again he didn't put up his usual numbers. Wall was limited to 15 points and six assists, though he did have 10 rebounds.

Wall's best play was a block. He stuffed Kevin Love on a play you just don't see very often from point guards:

4. LeBron James (20 points, 15 assists, 12 rebounds) had his fourth triple-double in his last five games, but he didn't shoot very well overall. He was just 8-for-23 and for him that is considered an off-night.

This play in particular made him look out of sorts. Everyone knows LeBron sometimes travels, but twice on the same play?

5. Oubre ended up having a good game with 11 points and eight rebounds and this was his best play, a two-handed putback slam:

[RELATED: WALL ISN'T ALLOWED TO DUNK AT PRACTICE]

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Wizards' loss to Cavs displays difference in depth between the teams

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Wizards' loss to Cavs displays difference in depth between the teams

The Wizards were without Otto Porter, who sat out with a hip injury, on Sunday night against the Cavs and matters were further complicated by his replacement, Kelly Oubre, Jr., getting into early foul trouble. John Wall was in just his third game back after missing nine with a left knee injury. Markieff Morris still isn't himself and had to get an X-ray midgame after getting hit in the neck.

That's a lot of reasons one could point to for why the Wizards lost to the Cavaliers on Sunday night. The problem is that even all those things added together don't equal the plight of their opponent.

The Cavs have been without Isaiah Thomas all season and on Sunday they were missing Dwyane Wade, Iman Shumpert and Derrick Rose, leaving them dangerously thin at the guard position. They started 36-year-old Jose Calderon against Wall, one of the best point guards in the business.

The Cavs were playing the second game of a back-to-back set, having beaten the Jazz in Cleveland the night before. And the Cavs also didn't get a great shooting night from LeBron James, who managed a triple-double with 20 points but shot just 8-for-23 from the field. That's nowhere near his 57-point performance back in November in the first game between these teams.

[RELATED: NO MORE DUNKS AT PRACTICE FOR JOHN WALL]

They were playing a back-to-back, were missing four key players and LeBron's shot was off, but the Cavs still had enough to secure a road win against a good team in the Wizards. A big reason why is because they have one of the deepest rosters in basketball. Despite missing a host of regulars, they still had enough capable options to roll a 10-man rotation and see all their players record a net rating of even or better.

Perhaps it's unfair to draw major conclusions from a matchup between these teams that excluded so many key figures, but on Sunday night the Wizards were reminded how they still have work to do in order to catch the Cavs, who have represented the Eastern Conference in three straight NBA Finals. Some would point to the obvious reason for that, how they have the best player on the planet and the Wizards do not. But it was hard not to notice the Cavs' depth as being another separator on Sunday night.

The Cavs, who have won 17 of their last 18 games, can win in a variety of ways and with a lot of different people contributing to the cause. Some of the players who came off the bench to help them win on Sunday would have much smaller roles if everyone on the roster were healthy. Jeff Green had 15 points and five rebounds in 29 minutes. Kyle Korver had 11 points and shot 4-for-6 from the field. Channing Frye and Cedi Osman, who may not see the floor if others had played, each had five points and were 4-for-6 combined from the field.

Through 30 games, more than a third of the 2017-18 season, the Wizards appear to be a deeper team after improving their bench, which was a noted weakness. Mike Scott has emerged as a consistent scorer. Ian Mahinmi is healthy and in recent weeks has started to round into form. Tomas Satoransky is developing into a nice backup point guard and Jodie Meeks has improved the backup shooting guard position from last season.

[RELATED: MIKE SCOTT IS THE SURPRISE OF THE SEASON SO FAR]

Once Wall and Morris play to their career norms, the Wizards should be a better team than they were last season. But whether they have the depth to truly test the Cavaliers in a playoff series is a question we don't yet know the answer to.

The Wizards will have to make a decision at some point before the February 8 trade deadline, which is now 53 days away, of what they need to really give themselves a chance at a deep playoff run. And in order to go deep in the postseason, they will likely have to square off against the Cavs.

Not all of their decisions will be based on how it directly affects their matchup with Cleveland, but surely that will be kept in mind as the Wizards look ahead towards the playoffs. They know who has to be knocked off to get where they want to go.

So far through two meetings with the Cavs this season, the Wizards have lost both of those games and neither featured the two teams at full strength. In their first meeting on Nov. 3, Morris was in his first game back from sports hernia surgery and Thomas, of course, didn't play. Their next matchup will be Feb. 22, after the deadline, meaning they have all the data they will get in terms of how the teams stack up head-to-head.

Do the Wizards need to make a move in the next two months to get closer to the Cavs, or do they already have enough to measure up in the spring? That's not an easy call for the Wizards' front office to make.

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