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Takeaways from Wizards' loss to Minnesota Timberwolves to end road trip

Takeaways from Wizards' loss to Minnesota Timberwolves to end road trip

The table was set perfectly for the Wizards to chance at 5-0 on a road trip for the first time in franchise history. They trailed by 21 for the second game in a row.

The Wizards (41-25), after erasing an 11-point deficit to beat the Phoenix Suns, a 15-point deficit to the Sacramento Kings and 21 to the Portland Trail Blazers, lost 119-104 to end a five-game winning streak at Target Center on Monday night.

John Wall (27 points, five assists) led Washington but it still had trouble getting stops as the Timberwolves shot 45-for-86, or 52.3%, including 10-for-21 from three-point range (47.6%).

Karl-Anthony Towns (39 points, 13 rebounds) led all scorers as Minnesota (28-38) never trailed. Five other players had double figures, with Ricky Rubio (22 points, career-high 19 assists) setting the table. Nemanja Bjelica (16 points, 10 rebounds) sparked the second unit.

A lob to Markieff Morris (11 points, seven rebounds) cut the deficit to 102-96 in the fourth quarter but Towns was too much down the stretch. He made a three-pointer and then two free throws to push the lead back to double digits and seal it.

Andrew Wiggins (15 points) had 41 points in their first meeting but was held relatively in check as he shot 5-for-15. 

Bradley Beal (20 points, seven rebounds), Otto Porter (11 points, six rebounds) and Bojan Bogdanovic (12 points) rounded out Washington’s effort. Marcin Gortat (seven points, four rebounds) was limited to 23 minutes of action.

[RELATED: Wall hits circus shot from the ground vs. Wolves]

--Wall got the whistles. He went out of his way to create contact and he was able to get to the foul line and shoot 14-for-19. In the previous game, he was 10 of 12. 

--The Wizards couldn’t turn any of the Timberwolves’ early turnovers into points. They only had three off their first 11. During one, Beal had a breakaway dunk but missed it in the third quarter. In the end,they had just nine points off 15 giveaways from Minnesota. 

--Porter passed on at least two potentially good looks from three on catch-and-shoots. He opted to put the ball on the floor to attack the defender but wasn’t as successful. The NBA's leading three-point shooter only went 5-for-12 overall and only took three threes. The Timberwolves have had the league's best defense since the All-Star break in points per game allowed and field-goal percentage.

--Beal’s minutes were restricted to 33 in Portland despite that being an overtime game. He logged 38 tonight but only shot 3-for-11 from three-point range.

--Ian Mahinmi (five points, seven rebounds) defended Towns when the Wizards made their runs, but he’s not used to defending a big who shoots threes. He hesitated on a closeout late in the fourth that produced a three for Towns and a 105-97 lead. Mahinmi fouled out with 3:24 left after 21 minutes of play. Towns' next three, with Mahinmi off the floor, stretched the lead to 110-98.

--Bogdanovic and Beal were 4-for-17 shooting threes, and as a team they were 7-for-26. Overall, Bogdanovic and Beal shot 10-for-31 which is why the offense couldn't overcome the deficit. Still, the Wizards broke 100 points for the 32nd time in 33 games.

[RELATED: Film study: Anatomy of Wizards' about-face]

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Beal makes his case in win over Cavs

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Beal makes his case in win over Cavs

The Washington Wizards beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 124-112 on Thursday night. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

1. Just before tip-off, the NBA announced it's 2019-20 All-Star starters and not included in the Eastern Conference backcourt was Bradley Beal. Boston's Kemba Walker and Atlanta's Trae Young instead got the honors.

Whether Beal knew that fact when he took the floor or not, he put in a performance against the Cavs that should add to his case for being a reserve. The two-time All-Star followed up a 38-point gem against the Heat with 36 points against Cleveland just one night later. He also had eight assists and shot 15-for-22 (68.2%) from the field and 4-for-8 from three.

Beal now has the fourth-most 30-point games in the NBA since the start of last season with 40 of them. Only James Harden (86) Gianiis (54) and Damian Lillard (45) have more.

This 30-point game helped the Wizards bounce back from a loss the night before in Miami. Washington is now 15-29 on the season and 5-5 in their last 10 games.

2. In his previous six games since returning from a quad injury, Davis Bertans had put up some solid numbers and shown flashes. Against the Cavs, though, he did what we saw him to much more often a few months ago when he was healthy.

Bertans not only lit a spark off the bench, but he did so in microwave fashion. He had 14 of his 17 points in the first half, including three consecutive threes in the second quarter to force a timeout as the Wizards' lead grew to 14. That marked a big turnaround after Washington trailed by as many as 12 in the first quarter.

Bertans helped lead a monster effort from the Wizards' bench as a whole. They outscored the Cavs' second unit, 59-34. The Wizards are second in the NBA in bench scoring and that is despite all of the injuries they have dealt with in recent months. Now that they are nearly whole, the bench is becoming even stronger.

 

3. The Thomas Bryant situation is getting more interesting as each game passes. He has now been back six games and has been kept between roughly between 12 and 21 minutes a night. He played 17 minutes against the Cavs and contributed nine points and three rebounds.

Bryant is a big man coming off a foot injury, so the Wizards have incentive to play it safe and maintain a minutes restriction. But it has now been nearly two weeks since he came back.

Is it as simple as a minutes limit or is Ian Mahinmi's improved play having a domino effect on Bryant? The more Bryant plays limited minutes, the more that could become evident, if this is indeed performance based. 

Mahinmi, by the way, had seven points, seven rebounds and played strong defense, helping the Wizards to hold Tristan Thompson to six points and three rebounds.

4. Much like last week when the Wizards saw the Pistons and Andre Drummond, watching this game was reminder that Kevin Love is reportedly available in trades. That begs the natural question of where he would fit, if he gets dealt soon, like before the Feb. 6 deadline.

Some might argue the Wizards as an option, given their best players are guards and Love would technically complement them well. Given his age and contract, however, it would probably be too much of a risk for the Wizards.

The Blazers seem like they could use him and the Raptors could also be interesting. He would also fit well with the Rockets, though they probably don't have enough trade assets to get him.

What about the Timberwolves? They have disappointed this year and need to find Karl-Anthony Towns some help. Love wouldn't be joining a contender, as he probably hopes to, but it could be an interesting story if he goes back to the team he started with. And him and Towns would be a tough duo to stop given how well they rebound and stretch the floor.

Speaking of Love, he had the viral moment of the night when he pretended to resuscitate Beal. 

5. Backup center Anzejs Pasecniks was back in the mix after missing two games due to a left ankle injury. And not only was he available, he actually got some burn.

Pasecniks played 15 minutes and scored four points to go along with three rebounds. So, even with Bryant and Bertans back from injury, and Johnathan Williams III still getting minutes, Pasecniks maintains a role in the rotation.

That could change once other players come back. Moe Wagner, in particular, will probably take minutes away from him at the backup center spot. But Pasecniks still hanging around in the rotation is a testament to him and the way he has played. No one predicted he would play this much of a factor this season.

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Bradley Beal among elite company with 40th 30-point game over last two seasons

Bradley Beal among elite company with 40th 30-point game over last two seasons

Bradley Beal secured his 40th three-point outing since the start of last season Thursday night with an efficient 36 points on 15-of-22 shooting. He surpassed Paul George for the fourth-most 30-point games over the last two seasons and now trails only Damian Lillard, Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden. 

The Wizards have not been a good team over the last two seasons, but for Beal to be in the company of two MVP's shows just how much he's grown as the leader of this team. 

The updated leaderboard for this elite scoring class now goes as follows:

Harden: 86
Antetokounmpo: 54
Lillard: 45
Beal: 40

Beal has tallied 15 30-point games this season while no other Wizard has more than one. He's well on pace to get more than 25, which was last season's total, and he's doing it on inferior shooting numbers.

 

Beal's shooting percentage (45.2 percent) is his worst mark since 2015-16, and he's never shot below 35 percent from three, let alone the 31.6 percent clip he has now. 

He's certainly had more opportunity to play with the ball in his hands given all the time John Wall has missed over the last two seasons, but it takes a special type of offensive player to score 30 points as many times as the likes of Lillard, Harden and Antetokounmpo. 

It'll be difficult to catch Harden and Antetokounmpo since they're on a different level as scorers. If Beal can stay hot through a light schedule right before the All-Star break, there's no reason to think he can't pass Lillard on this list. 

That's assuming Lillard doesn't score 30 over the next two weeks, which most likely won't happen. 

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