WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards lost to the Los Angeles Clippers 135-119 on Sunday night at Capital One Arena. Here are five takeaways from what went down...
1. Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said before Sunday's game he was interested to see how his team would respond against the Clippers, just one week after they were pummeled by 25 points in a game that L.A. dropped 150 in total. Though the Wizards didn't get the win, they fared a lot better the second time around.
Maybe it wasn't enough for a moral victory, which players and coaches openly detest. But it was at the least an indication the Wizards can punch back and give one of the best teams in the NBA a legitimate fight.
The loss, though, was the Wizards' fifth in their last six games. They are 7-15 on the year.
2. Too much time has passed for Ian Mahinmi to justify his contract and fans will never let it down, and justifiably so. But through two games this season, it's clear that he can help this team, at least in the short-term with Thomas Bryant out.
That's because Mahinmi plays defense and the Wizards as a team do not. Well, they play defense, they just aren't very good at it.
Mahinmi is probably at-worst one of the Wizards two or three best defenders. Maybe Isaac Bonga is better than him. Bradley Beal, if that was his sole focus, could be better as well. But Mahinmi is all about defense and his commitment stands out on this year's Wizards, who are mostly comprised of offensive-minded players.
Mahinmi did a solid job on Joel Embiid in the Wizards' win over the Sixers last week and on Sunday had some standout moments, including a pair of blocks in the first half, one on Montrezl Harrell and another on Moe Harkless. The Harkless one saw Mahinmi close from the other side of the rim, the type of play no one else on the team could probably make.
Mahinmi had nine points and six rebounds in 18 minutes on 4-for-4 shooting from the field.
3. In case you haven't heard yet, Davis Bertans can shoot. The Latvian Laser lit it up again with 25 points in 28 minutes, including six threes.
What stood out the most about Bertans in this game, though, was his match-ups. He spent a good amount of time guarding Kawhi Leonard and, in the second half, Leonard guarded him on the other end.
Perhaps Brooks thought Bertans' size would give Leonard problems, but it didn't work. Leonard still got 34 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
Bertans wasn't an ideal choice to guard Leonard, but then again no one really is. Not just on the Wizards, like, no one in the league can stop him consistently.
As for the flip-side of the Bertans-Leonard dual, Leonard wasn't on him all night. He got switched to guard him in the second quarter after Bertans' hot start.
4. Speaking of defensive assignments, Beal (20 points, five assists) spent much of his night on Moe Harkless and not Leonard or Paul George (27 points, six assists, six rebounds). Harkless is a solid player, but because of his defense. He is the least threatening player in the Clippers' starting lineup on the offensive end.
It was probably more about saving Beal's energy than anything. He was playing his third game in four nights and is such an important part of the Wizards' offense, that it makes sense to focus on that end of the floor.
But given Beal's potential as a two-way player, and how often Brooks praises him for that, it seemed like this was a good opportunity to put that on display. Maybe if it were the playoffs, things would be different and he would be on Leonard or George.
5. Troy Brown Jr. has been inconsistent this season, one night looking the part as a first round pick and other nights looking lost and without confidence. But Sunday was his best game of the season so far.
Brown had it going early off the bench and was making plays on both ends of the floor. He was disruptive with deflections on defense and could not miss on offense.
Brown ended up with a season-high 22 points on 9-for-12 shooting. He also added five rebounds and four assists. He even shot 2-for-4 from three.
On nights like Sunday, when Brown has it going and knows it, it's easy to see how different he plays when his confidence builds. He is more assertive attacking the rim and plays defense with energy and aggression.
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