WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards lost to the Milwaukee Bucks 137-134 in overtime on Monday night at Capital One Arena. Here are five takeaways from what went down...
1. There were technically two All-Stars on the floor at Capital One Arena on Monday night and Bradley Beal was not one of them, yet down the stretch when the Bucks and Wizards traded blows possession after possession, it was Beal who raised his game the highest to force overtime.
The Wizards ultimately lost, even though reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo fouled out with 1:36 in regulation, but it shouldn't take away from what was a masterful performance by Beal, the best game of his decorated career. Beal dropped a career-high 55 points, one night after setting a career-high of 53 against the Bulls. Amazingly, the Wizards lost both games.
Beal is just the third player in NBA history to score 53 points or more in consecutive games. The other two are Wilt Chamberlain and James Harden.
Just getting the Wizards to overtime in this game was a remarkable feat. Beal scored 22 of the Wizards' final 24 points to force the extra period, which ended on a Troy Brown Jr. missed three.
Maybe the Wizards can bounce back on Wednesday when they are playing the Nets and not a team that is on pace to be one of the best in NBA history. But the net result was a third straight loss, as the Wizards continue to trend in the wrong direction coming out of the All-Star break.
2. Any time the Bucks are the opponent, the biggest question is who will guard Antetokounmpo. Not only is he the MVP, he also presents an extremely unique match-up from a size and speed perspective.
Rookie Rui Hachimura drew that assignment on Monday and didn't do all that bad, considering. He didn't stop Antetokounmpo often, but he was able to slow him on a few occasions and even force some misses and turnovers.
Antetokounmpo ended up with 22 points and 14 rebounds, which is below his usual output. Foul trouble contributed, but he also had to work a little harder for his points.
Antetokounmpo still mixed in some truly incredible plays, of course. Like, in the first quarter when he drove left past Hachimura and finished with a double-clutch reverse layup in traffic, an absurdly athletic play for a guy his size.
But just getting that match-up says something about what the Wizards think of Hachimura's defensive ceiling. They showed some trust in him that he could at least have some level of success in the NBA's best player.
It is always interesting to watch those types of duels when a rookie guards someone of Antetokounmpo's caliber. It's interesting because you know they are facing the most difficult defensive assignment of their lives and there is really only so much preparation that can be done by watching film and reading the scouting report.
3. Hachimura acquitted himself well on defense, considering the match-up. But he had some trouble on the offensive end while guarded by Antetokounmpo, a perennial defensive player of the year candidate.
We are used to seeing Hachimura get off to hot scoring starts, but he never really got going against the Bucks. It was a rare occasion where he had little impact on the Wizards' offense.
Hachimura finished with 12 points, going 4-for-12 from the field.
4. This game nearly got out of hand in the second half as Milwaukee built a 20-point lead, but Shabazz Napier kept the Wizards in it almost all by himself. He went off for 27 points in the game, 18 of which came in the second half.
Napier had nine points in the third quarter, then 11 in the fourth. He shot 10-for-17 overall for the game and 3-for-7 from three.
Brooks said before the game the coaching staff has discussed putting Napier in the starting lineup over Ish Smith, in part because they like Smith's role in the second unit. Napier's performance against the Bucks further helped his cause.
5. The Wizards had to play the Bucks without two of their best players, including their second-leading scorer, Davis Bertans. He sat out due to right knee soreness, a new injury for him that wasn't revealed until early Monday by a tweet from the team. He is considered day-to-day.
Center Thomas Bryant was also sidelined due to rest in a back-to-back. Since he just came back from rehabbing his right foot, and is still on a minutes restriction, the Wizards decided to hold him out in the second of their two games.
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