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5 takeaways from Wizards' failed comeback attempt against Cavs

5 takeaways from Wizards' failed comeback attempt against Cavs

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers 113-100 on Friday night at Capital One Arena. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

1. With so many new players and a fresh start for the franchise, it is only fair to give the 2019-20 Wizards some time before we draw conclusions, before we make our judgments on what they are capable of this season and what they will be once the dust settles. Friday night, though, was one of those games that suggests it could be a long year for them.

They were at home and playing one of the worst teams in the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers, yet the Wizards got worked in the first half. They trailed by as many as 21 points and, though they made things interesting in the second half, still lost by double digits.

It was an ugly performance for the Wizards all-around. They had 19 turnovers and shot 7-for-31 from three. Keep in mind the Cavs are absolutely dreadful on defense.

2. Consistency has eluded Rui Hachimura in recent games, but against the Cavs he was in peak form. He scored 21 points on 10-for-13 shooting and added seven rebounds.

Hachimura's best qualities shined through against Cleveland. One one play, he charged in to make a midrange shot after getting Collin Sexton to bite on a pass fake. He then scored on backdoor cut down the baseline on the next play and not long after that powered through contact from Larry Nance Jr. and Cedi Osman for a strong take at the rim.

Hachimura had eight points in the final 2:04 of the first half and had 15 at the break. All in all, it was a really nice game and it came after a zero-point dud his last time out.

Hachimura, though, had some rookie moments. One of them was a defensive play against Kevin Love who baited him on a pump fake into fouling him on a three-point shot.

The defense may take time, but Hachimura's offensive game is already an asset for the Wizards.

3. Head coach Scott Brooks made a change to the starting lineup for this one, removing Isaac Bonga and putting Troy Brown Jr. in at the three. That move has apparently knocked Bonga out of the rotation entirely, as Brown's back-up was C.J. Miles and Bonga didn't play at all.

Brown didn't have his best game. He scored three points and shot 1-for-8. He had three turnovers.

One thing Brown needs to get better at is his skillset around the rim. There were two occasions against the Cavs where he got an offensive rebound (something he's excellent at) and then got blocked trying to put a shot back up. 

Brown only played 19 minutes as Brooks went away from him. That is going to be something to watch all year, it seems. Though he didn't start on Wednesday against Indiana, the same thing happened.

4. Hachimura wasn't the only rookie who impressed in this game. Darius Garland, the Cavaliers' fifth overall pick, had 15 points and six assists. And 30th overall pick Kevin Porter Jr. added 13 points in 21 minutes.

The Wizards were interested in Porter in the pre-draft process, but he ended up falling well outside their range. He also backed out of a pre-draft workout they had scheduled.

5. The Wizards wasted no time promoting Isaiah Thomas to the starting lineup, but through three games with him starting it's fair to wonder if he is best suited to coming off the bench. The numbers weren't terrible in this one - he had 11 points and five assists - but Thomas' faults become more apparent when he's going up against starters rather than reserves.

For one, Thomas' defensive limitations are easier to mask when he's guarding back-up point guards. He had real trouble keeping up with Collin Sexton or Garland, who got away from him too easily and sometimes even without screens.

Thomas' ability to play off the ball is also a question and that's more of a problem when he's in the starting lineup because Bradley Beal (20 points, nine assists) is the main focus of the offense. On the bench, Thomas can play his more natural role and help a unit that needs shot creation.

It doesn't seem like a move Brooks would make anytime soon, but it will be interesting to see if it ever comes to it, where Thomas goes back to being a bench player.

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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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Bradley Beal sees a young John Wall in the Grizzlies rookie sensation Ja Morant

Bradley Beal sees a young John Wall in the Grizzlies rookie sensation Ja Morant

WASHINGTON -- It is not often you see a rookie find initial success in the NBA to the degree Grizzlies point guard Ja Morant has, already with borderline All-Star numbers at the age of 20. And oftentimes, opponents are careful throwing out player comparisons for guys his age, wanting to see more before they anoint anyone.

Morant, though, is a different case and questions from media members at Wizards practice this week as the team gets set to face him for the first time naturally led to parallels to great players. On Thursday, Brooks brought up unprompted how much Morant reminds him of Russell Westbrook, his former player in Oklahoma City.

And on Friday, Bradley Beal invoked a teammate of his when breaking down what makes Morant so good.

"He loves to get up and down. He's really fast with the ball. It reminds you of John [Wall] in a lot of ways. He plays with his pace," Beal said.

Through 19 games this season, Morant is averaging 18.7 points, 6.4 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He is shooting 42.2 percent from three on 2.2 attempts.

The threes have been surprising to most, as he shot a relatively modest 36.3 percent his final year in college at Murray State. But also surprising maybe just how lethal he has been at attacking the rim.

Sure, that was a big part of his game in college. But this is the NBA where athletes are much bigger and stronger. And he isn't the biggest guy either, weighing in at 175 pounds according to Basketball-Reference.

But despite lacking in size, he has shown an ability to finish through contact rarely seen from any player.

"I think he has a no-fear type of mentality. So, you have to respect his aggressiveness," Beal said. "He'll get respect from a lot of players in the league, a lot of refs in the league because of his aggressiveness and... with all the posters he has. So, he's an assassin. You gotta respect his game."

Beal likely won't draw the defensive assignment on Morant. That will probably go to Ish Smith and back-up point guard Chris Chiozza, who is with the team while Isaiah Thomas recovers from a left calf injury.

Beal knows it is going to be tough for the whole Wizards team to contain Morant. He said the trick will be trying to stay in front of him, though he knows that is easier said than done.

Really, Morant is such a unique player that the Wizards can only gameplan and prepare so much until they actually experience facing him for the first time.

"He's gonna be a handful," Beal said.

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