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5 Takeaways from the Wizards' 137-116 win vs. the Timberwolves

5 Takeaways from the Wizards' 137-116 win vs. the Timberwolves

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. 


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WATCH: Rui Hachimura throws down a vicious dunk and lets the Heat know it

WATCH: Rui Hachimura throws down a vicious dunk and lets the Heat know it

Rui Hachimura is one of the more soft-spoken players on the Wizards, but you wouldn't be able to collect that from his highlight dunk Friday night in Miami. 

Early in the second quarter while the Wizards were riding the momentum from their win over Philadelphia the night before, Hachimura threw down a loud one-handed slam to give them a 12-point lead. 

Then he let out a scream to let the entire arena know what they just witnessed. 

Hachimura has struggled most of the year with finishing through contact inside. Over the last two weeks, he's had the two best games of his career against the Clippers (30 points) and Sixers (27) due in large part to the rookie playing with more physicality offensively. 

The Wizards have to like what they've seen out of Hachimura already this season, and these kinds of incremental growths are all you can really ask for from a first-round pick. 

Hachimura seemed to hit a wall two weeks ago, but he adjusted tried playing with more physicality and it's paying off for him. 


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Jimmy Butler dominates as Wizards' valiant effort in Miami falls short

Jimmy Butler dominates as Wizards' valiant effort in Miami falls short

It would've been easy for the Wizards to rest on the excitement of Thursday night's win over the Sixers and phone it in against the Heat before a Friday night in Miami. 

But they didn't, and while they didn't come up with the win, the Wizards showed resolve and grit against one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. 

Here are the top takeaways from the 112-103 loss. 

Wizards forced to use their depth

Coming into the game the Wizards were already down CJ Miles, Jordan McRae and Thomas Bryant with long-term injuries, but then Ian Mahinmi was scratched so he didn't have to play a back-to-back and Isaiah Thomas was ruled out with the same calf injury that kept him on the sidelines against Philly. 

So Scott Brooks reached deep down his bench and deployed some lineup combinations he's rarely had to go with this year. Moe Wagner and Ish Smith got the start alongside Bradley Beal Isaac Bonga and Rui Hachimura while Davis Bertans, Troy Brown and Chris Chiozza were his top reserves. 

At one point, the Wizards fielding a lineup of Chiozza-Brown-Bertans-Bonga-Schofield. Per Cleaning the Glass, those five players have yet to share the court together this season. 

But the Wizards played well. They weren't flat on the second night of a back-to-back, which many would have expected coming off such a great win at home the night before, and they matched the intensity of a consistently hard-playing Heat team for most of the game. 

That's a sign of good culture, which is something the franchise has prioritized in a rebuilding year. I'd be excited to see how they handle the Clippers at home after getting their doors blown off in LA not too long ago. 

Bertans' trade value keeps growing

Davis Bertans showed out on the big stage against the Sixers Thursday and continued his hot streak from deep in Miami. He finished with 19 points, going 5-13 from three, and it's clear defenses are insanely worried about him coming off screens. 

With an expiring $7 million deal, Bertans is a prime trade target for contenders who need bench scoring and floor spacing. 

Before the year it would have been blasphemous for the Wizards to get a first-round pick for Bertans, but now? I'd be surprised if they don't get at least one for him if they wish to deal him. 

An elite uniform night

It's "City Edition" season in the NBA and the Wizards and Heat brought it Friday night. 

The Wizards went with the "Stars and Stripes" for the second night in a row, while the Heat sported another iteration of their famous "Miami Vice" jerseys. 

I move for both uniform combinations to be made permanent additions for years to come. 

Rui Hachimura vs Herro and Nunn

This game featured three of the best rookies the game has had to offer in Rui Hachimura, Tyler Herro and Kendrick Nunn. Herro turned in the best game by a healthy margin with 22 points, but Hachimura proved he's at a similar level as those two standouts. 

The ninth overall pick turned in another solid line with 14 points, six rebounds and a loud dunk

Hachimura seemed to hit a wall two weeks ago but is now back to showing key improvements in every game. 

The Wizards have to be thrilled with what they've seen so far out of the rookie and it's exciting to think about his upside on both ends of the floor running alongside Beal and John Wall. 

No answers for Bam Adebayo

Bam Adebayo may be one of the most versatile centers in NBA history. 

He has unreal foot speed and instincts on defense that allows him to guard just about everyone on the floor, and his ball-handling on offense is unprecedented for such a young big man. 

On Friday, the Wizards' shaky paint defense had next to no answers for Adebayo, who ended up with 24 points and 13 rebounds on 10-16 shooting. 

The good news for the Wizards is there aren't many players like Adebayo in the league today, but at some point, they're going to have to figure out how to defend the paint.