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Takeaways from the Wizards' double-digit loss to Spurs

Takeaways from the Wizards' double-digit loss to Spurs

This game wouldn’t come down to a game-winning shot like Bradley Beal had last season to beat the San Antonio Spurs at Verizon Center on Saturday.  

Kawhi Leonard (19 points), LaMarcus Aldridge (22 points) and Tony Parker (18 points) got the Spurs out to a good start, and reserves such as Patty Mills (13 points) and Jonathan Simmons (15 points) slammed the door on any Wizards comeback attempts in front of 17,066.

Bradley Beal (25 points, 6 rebounds), John Wall (21 points, 5 assists) and Otto Porter (14 points, 8 rebounds) paced the Wizards (5-10) who had their two-game winning streak ended with the 112-100 loss.

--Beal got up 13 shots in the first half and was able to get a lot of open looks that missed. During a crucial stretch of the third quarter, however, he missed an open three as did Tomas Satornasky which led to a five-point burst – a three by Mills and a dunk from Simmons – to push the deficit to 83-69 with 2:14.

-- Markieff Morris (12 points) lost his cool in the third quarter as he was ejected at 7:30. Morris received two fouls in a short span just as he had in the first quarter to send him to the bench early. He had what appeared to be harsh works before Ken Mauer assessed him two technical that sent him to the locker room. Morris played just 18 minutes.

-- Trey Burke entered with the game out of reach in the fourth quarter but looked more comfortable in the offense playing off the ball with Wall. He made three of his first six shots finding soft spots in the defense.

-- Porter fell short of posting his fifth double-double of the season. In three seasons before this, Porter had a total of five. His other five, all coming in 2015-16, happened in a span of 186 games. He was put on Aldridge midway through the fourth quarter but the Spurs just attacked the matchup because Porter was undersized.

--Ian Mahinmi made his season season debut at 4:34 of the first quarter, entering for Gortat and playing eight minutes of the first half. Mahinmi didn’t take a shot but made his presence felt with a stifling (and legal) screen of Kyle Anderson that knocked him almost senseless. Mahinmi, who was set to play limited minutes in his first action since having left knee surgery Oct. 15 to clean out loose cartilage, played a total of 15 minutes with his only point coming on a made free throw. He said he’s hopeful he’ll be able to play without restrictions if he doesn’t have any swelling post-game. The Wizards will be off Sunday after this back-to-back.

-- The stark contrast between the benches, and why the Spurs have had the start they’ve had to the season compared to the Wizards, was clear after two quarters. Mills had eight points, Simmons had seven and David Lee was a spark with four. Their reserves had 21 points by halftime. The Wizards had just five as they trailed 54-44. After three quarters, the edge was 30-8.

[RELATED: Defenses loading up on Beal opens floor for Otto Porter]

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Rui Hachimura's learning curve can be seen on offense late in games

Rui Hachimura's learning curve can be seen on offense late in games

WASHINGTON -- Wizards forward Rui Hachimura has translated so smoothly to the NBA level that it is easy to forget he is still just a rookie with only 31 games under his belt. For a reminder of his inexperience, just look at the fourth quarter.

Hachimura tends to start games hot on the offensive end, like he did on Friday in the Wizards' loss to the Cavaliers when he had eight points by the end of the first quarter. But he scored only nine points after that and went scoreless through seven minutes in the fourth.

That has been a consistent theme for him this season. He averages 4.8 points in the first quarter shooting 48.4 percent from the field, 4.0 points in the second shooting 57 percent and then 4.3 points on 47.9 percent in the third. In the fourth quarter those numbers plummet to 1.9 points on average and 33.3 percent shooting.

Basically, Hachimura often comes out on fire but then slows down considerably once opponents make midgame changes. Against the Cavs, Hachimura said it was because they disrupted passing lanes.

"They are an NBA team. They just adjusted. They didn't want me to catch the ball. They didn't let me just catch the ball. I think that's why," he said.

The Wizards have seen teams switch defensive match-ups midgame to counter Hachimura. Sometimes taking away his midrange jumper will be prioritized. The Cavs seemed to find success playing Hachimura more physically in the second half, bumping him away from his comfort zones.

Over time, Hachimura can improve his ability to sustain scoring throughout games simply by becoming more versatile. The more consistent he becomes at making three-point shots and creating off the dribble, the more difficult it will be for teams to stop him. As long as he keeps improving, he will reach a point where he can stay ahead of the defense with a multitude of counters.

Developing a more reliable outside game and more dribble combinations will take some time. For now, Hachimura believes the key to him keeping up his scoring pace involves working with his teammates, particularly star shooting guard Bradley Beal.

"I just gotta connect more with Brad. Brad is the one everybody is trying to guard. Screens and pick-and-rolls with him, that kind of stuff will help me," Hachimura said.

Hachimura's game against the Cavaliers reflected how the team played overall. After scoring 41 points in the first quarter, they managed only 42 in the second half. They blew a 16-point lead and lost, 113-108.

So, he wasn't alone. And those rooting for Hachimura to round out his game should feel good about his odds. He has a relentless work ethic and is often staying after practice to go over film with player development coach Dave Adkins.

Hachimura is perceptive and driven to improve. In order to take the next step as a scorer, he will have to get better at closing games.

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Tristan Thompson calls Bradley Beal one of the best shooting guards in the league

Tristan Thompson calls Bradley Beal one of the best shooting guards in the league

Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson spoke with reporters after the team's victory over the Wizards Friday night, praising Bradley Beal, who was snubbed from All-Star consideration this season despite averaging nearly 30 points-per-game.

The Cavaliers held the Wizards to just 21 points in the fourth quarter, and Thompson said their main focus was neutralizing Beal.

"The Wizards are really good offensively when they are making their runs," Thompson said postgame. "Bradley Beal is an All-Star in our league. One of the top-three two-guards in our league right now, so we were just trying to make it tough for him."

Beal finished the night with 26 points, but struggled from the floor. Beal shot 9-for-28 from the floor and the Cavaliers' stingy defense was clearly a factor.

Beal and the Wizards will have a chance to get back on track on Sunday night at Capital One Arena when they host the Chicago Bulls for the final time this season.

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