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5 Takeaways from the Wizards' 138-132 win over the Spurs

5 Takeaways from the Wizards' 138-132 win over the Spurs

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards beat the San Antonio Spurs 138-132 on Wednesday night at Capital One Arena. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

The Wizards play the Hornets on Friday at 7 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Washington.

1. Maybe it's because he didn't shoot well early on, maybe it's because the Wizards have a losing record or because others around the league like James Harden and Luka Doncic have secured the national spotlight; but it feels like Bradley Beal's season so far has been overlooked.

The Wizards All-Star had another monster offensive game on Wednesday with 33 points on 14-of-24 shooting. He pushed his season average to 30.3 points per game, which most years gets you a scoring title.

Against the Spurs, Beal was slow to get going with six points in the first half before he erupted for 21 in the third quarter alone, making all nine of his shots. The Spurs have had major problems with perimeter defense this season and it was only a matter of time before he broke out.

Beal has proven in recent years when John Wall has been injured that he can get buckets no matter the opponent, and no matter if his outside shots are falling. But what he's doing this year seems to be on a different level, as he is far and away the best shot creator on the team. 

For others to score, the ball has to move. But for him, the surrounding elements do not matter. He's like one of those life-proof phone cases. No matter water, extreme heat or hard falls; it's going to work. 

2. By now everyone knows the Wizards struggle defensively, but it may be surprising to some that the Spurs have similar issues given their history. But they came into this match-up with the fourth-worst defensive rating in the NBA, not far off from the Wizards who are second from the bottom.

That predictably led to a high-scoring game between the teams. Both teams eclipsed 130 points and the halftime score was 69-63 in favor of the Spurs with both teams shooting 59 percent or better from the field.

For the full game, both teams shot over 50 percent. The Wizards made 18 threes and the Spurs made 12 of them.

It is still relatively early in the season, so there is a chance the Wizards get at least slightly better on defense. But right now it looks like this is the new reality for them: great offense and absolutely dreadful defense.

It could end up looking a lot like the Denver Nuggets of the 1980s and early 1990s. They once led the NBA in offensive rating and were dead-last in defensive rating, back in 1981-82, and they made the playoffs.

3. This season is all about learning and for Troy Brown Jr. that has meant some 'throw him into the fire' moments on defense. His first game included a match-up with James Harden and in this one he was deployed to guard DeMar DeRozan for much of the night.

Brown had mixed results against DeRozan, who ended up with 31 points on 9-for-13 from the field, but there were some good moments where Brown stayed in front of him and gave him fits. In the first quarter, DeRozan tried dribbling to his left and right after facing up in the midrange and Brown anticipated each move to force a turnover.

Much of the focus for young players is on offense, as that is stuff that sells and it's usually the side of the court where guys find earlier success. But don't forget that Brown's defensive ceiling is quite high with his size, basketball IQ and length (he has a 6-foot-10 wingspan).

The Wizards don't have many players on their roster who profile as good defenders, but Brown has the potential to be one. Having him cut his teeth against the best wings and guards on opposing teams is a good way to get that process going.

4. Speaking of Brown, the Wizards chose him in the 2018 draft over Spurs guard Lonnie Walker IV, who was taken three spots later at 18th overall. The Wizards considered Walker carefully, but ended up going with Brown and so far that has decently for them.

At least Brown is playing for the Wizards, because Walker can't even say that. He did not appear in Wednesday's game and has only played a total of 40 minutes this season.

Basically, he is in Gregg Popovich's dog house and, according to those who cover the team, it is partly because of effort. Walker hasn't been trying hard enough for Popovich's taste and especially on the defensive end.

No one should be written off after basically one season, and the Spurs have a knack for developing players, but so far it looks like the Wizards made the right choice by not going with Walker, who offers intriguing upside because of his athleticism and smarts.

5. If only Davis Bertans could play against the Spurs more often. He lit up his former team in the Wizards' third game of the season for 23 points and he did it again on Wednesday.

Bertans poured in 21 points on 7-for-11 shooting and 4-for-7 from three. Two of his three highest scoring games as a Wizard have come against the Spurs.

Ish Smith isn't a former Spurs player, but he also had a huge night off the bench. He scored 21 points on 9-for-12 from the field in 24 minutes.


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Wizards post NBA's second-best shooting performance this season in 138-132 win over Spurs

Wizards post NBA's second-best shooting performance this season in 138-132 win over Spurs

If you weren't already convinced that the Wizards' offense is for real, Wednesday night should have provided enough proof for you. 

The Wizards play the Hornets on Friday at 7 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Washington.

Washington entered the game as the third-highest scoring offense and held the third-highest efficiency rating. Both of those rankings are bound to increase as they improve to 4-8 on the year. 

The Wizards finished with 138 points on 58.7 percent shooting, the second-best shooting performance of the season. The only team to do better was the Clippers, who posted an incredible 62.5 field goal percentage in a blowout win over the Warriors. 

Washington was led by, of course, Bradley Beal, who turned in another exceptional outing with 33 points on 14-24 shooting. But the bench came up big as well. Ish Smith and Davis Bertans each pitched in 21 points while Moe Wagner added 13 of his own. 

Wednesday marked the Wizards' second win in three games, and while their defense still has a lot of work to do if they hope to keep this momentum, their offense should be able to keep them in games all year long. 


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What Gregg Popovich told Scott Brooks after the Wizards traded for Davis Bertans

What Gregg Popovich told Scott Brooks after the Wizards traded for Davis Bertans

When the Spurs traded Davis Bertans to the Wizards for basically nothing this summer, Gregg Popovich could not have been happy about it. 

The Wizards play the Spurs on Wednesday at 7 p.m. EST on NBC Sports Washington.

The Spurs did it to free up cap space to sign Marcus Morris to a two-year, $20 million contract, but then Morris backed out of the agreement to sign a one-year, $15 million deal with the Knicks. 

So the Spurs were without one of Popovich's favorite players and had an empty spot to fill with Morris in New York. They ended up bringing on Trey Lyles, but Bertans has to feel like the one who got away for San Antonio.

In his first season with the Wizards, Bertans has been solid off the bench, averaging 11.7 points on 41.8 percent from three. The Wizards knew they were getting a shooter in Bertans, but Popovich told Scott Brooks that the big man was capable of much more. 

"[Popovich] is a good scout," Brooks said Wednesday. "He nailed it on [Bertans] when I talked to him over the summer. He said, '[Davis] is more than a shooter.'"

Just 11 games into the season, we've already seen Bertans' ability to handle the ball and create his own shot off the dribble. Last Friday in Minnesota, we even saw Bertans play as the ball handler in a pick and roll with fellow big man Moe Wagner. 

Not many teams can put two bigs in pick and roll situations, and for an already elite offense for the Wizards (3rd in Off. RTG), it adds a wrinkle that could give almost any defense nightmares. 

As Brooks continues to configure his rotations, Bertans' should continue to increase on the offensive end. Whether he can help the team's atrocious defense is yet to be seen, but the Wizards clearly got another steal in a trade with a team trying to offload salary.