The Wizards snapped their three-game losing streak Friday night with a 137-116 win over the Timberwolves on the road.
It was a battle between two All-NBA talents in Karl-Anthony Towns and Bradley Beal, and boy did they put on a show for everyone who saw it. Beal ended up getting the best of Towns by dropping 44 for the second straight game.
This was the type of game the Wizards can build upon as they travel to Orlando on Sunday against a struggling offense. Here are your takeaways from Washington's big win with Kirk Cousins in attendance.
Bradley Beal is a bad man
Beal is on track to blow his career scoring average out of the water and has played well enough so far this season to earn an All-NBA selection. The Wizards' offense may as well finish in the top 10 when all is said and done, and Beal's elite offensive repertoire has been the driving force behind it. On Friday night, Beal went 15-22 from the floor in another magical night offensively.
The scary part is his shooting percentages are uncharacteristically low to start the year. Beal entered this game averaging 28 points while shooting 43 percent from the floor and 32 percent from three. Beal is an excellent shooter. Those splits are bound to improve. Once his efficiency goes up, we could be looking at a 30-point performance every single night.
The Wizards are clearly in a rebuild and will have plenty of frustrating moments this year, but Beal has been a treat to watch and there's no reason to expect him to slow down any time soon.
This offense is for real
The main reason for Washington's poor start to the season is clearly their defense, as we'll talk about later on. But after entering their matchup with Minnesota with the sixth-best efficiency in the NBA, it's becoming clearer that the Wizards are legit on offense.
They put up 133 points against a strong Boston defense on Wednesday and followed it up with hanging 137 on the Timberwolves. Beal had another exceptional night, Moe Wagner looked good on both ends and Thomas Bryant was strong with his finishes inside.
Washington just has a plethora of players who can create good looks for themselves and are aggressive in looking for their offense. As Rui Hachimura improves and learns where his spots are on the floor, the ceiling for this group raises dramatically.
That defense though.
Moe Wagner needs more minutes
Wagner became the NBA's leader in charges drawn by taking three in the first half Friday night. One of the few bright spots on defense for the Wizards this season has been Wagner, and he was clearly getting under Karl-Anthony Towns' skin in this one. He also set a new career-high in points with 30, going 13-15 from the floor and 4-4 from three.
Wagner is the first Wizards player to come off the bench to score 30 points and grab 15 rebounds since Cliff Robinson did it in 1985.
When Wagner came off the bench, the Wizards got an immediate boost in energy on both ends of the floor. Tonight the stat sheet backed up his impact, but he consistently makes a difference in the game by doing the little things. Averaging roughly 18 minutes per game entering tonight, it may be time to increase Wagner's role on this team.
Tale of two halves defensively
You couldn't have realistically expected the Wizards to lock down Towns and the Timberwolves, but the first half was UGLY. Their activity and ball pressure were decent to start, but as soon as their intensity waned, Minnesota started hitting open shots and scored 73 first-half points.
Beal was clearly frustrated with his team's effort during his halftime interview. Washington's offense is for real, but if this team is going to do anything this season they have to give a better effort on the other end.
In the second half, they held the Timberwolves to 43 points, which was the same total Washington gave up in the second quarter alone.
Obviously this team has a lot of work to do defensively, but to turn it around against a good offensive team on the road like that can be something to build on for Scott Brooks' squad.
Karl-Anthony Towns dominant in Wiggins' absence
With Andrew Wiggins missing Friday's game to deal with a death in his family, Towns went berzerk on the Wizards' frontcourt. Wagner had his moments frustrating the big man, but Towns still put up 36 points on 13-18 shooting.
Last time the Wizards played Minnesota it was Wiggins who torched them in a blowout win. It was Towns who had a big night this time around but Beal outdueled the big man to give Washington it's third win of the year.
MORE WIZARDS NEWS:
- Beal's mindset on Wizards rebuild: How he went to Ray Allen for advice
- Two different stories: Wizards offense and defense on opposite ends of the efficiency spectrum
- Rui's impact: Marc Spears sees Hachimura's impact stretching farther than the court