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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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Wizards fall flat in battle with young Grizzlies

Wizards fall flat in battle with young Grizzlies

The Washington Wizards lost to the Memphis Grizzlies 128-111 on Saturday night. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

1. It was just over a week ago the Wizards had their best win of the season against the Sixers. Saturday night was one of their worst.

They went into Memphis to play an emerging, but struggling team and got their you-know-whats handed to them. The Wizards jumped out to a 13-6 lead in the first, then lost the momentum and never got it back.

By halftime the Wizards were down 15. That deficit grew to 24 in the second half.

The Wizards ended up losing by 17, but it wasn't as close as the score would suggest. It was Washington's seventh loss in eight games.

Maybe it was the three-day layoff. Perhaps they weren't sharp. Whatever the reason, that was a bad one.

2. As this game went on, it became very obvious that Memphis' gameplan was to make sure Davis Bertans didn't beat them. They swarmed the Latvian Laser on the perimeter and guarded him well beyond the three-point line.

Bertans was held to nine points on 2-for-9 shooting and 1-for-6 from three. His one three was a quick release shot from about 27 feet out. Soon after that, the defense was picking him up at halfcourt.

 

This type of treatment was inevitable for Bertans, who has been the biggest surprise of the Wizards' season so far. He has turned into one of the league's best three-point shooters and the second-best scorer on the team. Teams now know it.

3. Rui Hachimura's college teammate stole the show in this one. Brandon Clarke, who played last year with Hachimura at Gonzaga, put on an impressive scoring display highlighted by a series of vicious dunks. He measured a max vertical of 40 1/2 inches and used every inch of it to dunk all over the Wizards.

He had 19 points in the first half, including an alley-oop where his head was level with the rim and a poster dunk on the fastbreak that nearly ended Ian Mahinmi's career.

 

Clarke had 25 points on 11-for-14 shooting with four rebounds. Coming out of the draft, he was considered a good defensive player but too old (he's 23) and too raw offensively without a three-point shot.

So far, he's looking like a major steal at the 21st overall pick. 

4. The Grizzlies might not be good, but they are fun to watch and have a nice young core with Clarke alongside Jaren Jackson Jr. and Morant. Jackson is a unicorn at 6-foot-11 with the ability to drive coast-to-coast and hit threes. Morant is a force of nature, able to play well above the rim despite being 6-foot-3.

Morant nearly pulled off one of the most disrespectful plays in basketball on Bradley Beal. He tried to pull a "Michael Jordan on Ron Mercer" by snatching the ball off the glass with two hands. But he clipped the rim and was called for goaltending. Still, it was impressive because of how high he got in the air.

Memphis has an exciting young team. They might contend for a playoff spot next year with a good offseason. If they were in the East, they could really make some noise.

5. The Wizards were without several key regulars once again. Isaiah Thomas missed his fifth straight game with a left calf strain and Moe Wagner was out with his left ankle sprain after playing in the past four games.

They did get back Garrison Mathews, though. The two-way guard played in his first game since Oct. 25 after sitting out due to a stress reaction in his right leg. It was Mathews' third professional game, but he made his first shot - a corner three. It happened to come in his home state of Tennessee. 

Mathews might actually get some minutes in the next few weeks because he is the second-best shooting guard on the roster with Jordan McRae out due to a finger injury.

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Wizards release statement on the passing of John Wall's mother

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Wizards release statement on the passing of John Wall's mother

The Washington Wizards announced the passing of John Wall's mother, Frances Pulley on Friday. 

Wall's mother had been battling cancer before her passing. She was 58. 

In a statement on Twitter, the Wizards said, "Sending thoughts and love for John Wall and his family after the passing of his mother, Frances Pulley. She will forever be a part of our #DCFamily."

Zach Leonsis, the senior vice president of strategic initiatives at Monumental Sports & Entertainment, also released a statement

"Thinking of @JohnWall and his family right now. Keeping you guys in our prayers. So terribly sorry for your loss and know that she will be remembered forever. #DCFamily

Wall's Kentucky coach, John Calipari also expressed his condolences for his former star: 

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