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Bertans erupts for 32 in 114-107 loss to Hornets

Bertans erupts for 32 in 114-107 loss to Hornets

The Washington Wizards lost to the Charlotte Hornets 114-107 on Tuesday night. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

1. The more the losses pile up for the Wizards, the more games like they had on Tuesday night can be viewed through a different lens.

They lost, but they battled and showed some signs that their future is bright. And by losing, all they did is help their long-term cause in a very small way by improving their draft position.

Yes, it may be early to be thinking in those terms. But by now it's looking like the Wizards are going to fall far outside the playoff picture.

Maybe they turn things around, but in this retooling phase, it wouldn't be the worst thing if they show some fight and upside, but still end up with a good enough draft pick to land another future star.

After moving to 7-16 on the year with their sixth loss in their last seven games, that certainly looks like the course the Wizards are currently on.

2. Bradley Beal was held to 16 points and shot just 6-for-19 from the field and 0-for-7 from three. Over the past seven games, he has shot just 37.9 percent (53-for-140) from the field. That's not what we're used to seeing from the Wizards' All-Star. 

Beal, though, still made the highlight reel with one of his best plays of the season and one of the more vicious dunks of his career. Beal dunked all over Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on a play where he cut from near halfcourt and got a good feed from Moe Wagner.

 

Beal doesn't think of himself as a dunker, but he sure looked like one on that play. 

3. Davis Bertans, man. The Wizards have found something special in the Latvian Laser, who erupted once again, this time for a career-high 32 points. He shot 8-for-12 from three, setting a new career-high for makes.

The most amazing part of Bertans' night might be the fact he converted two four-point plays. Yes, you read that right.

Bertans became the first Wizards/Bullets player to make five threes or more in four straight games. No one can stop him right now.

The more Bertans plays like this, the more debates about his future are breaking out. The Wizards, as many have noted, will have to decide at the trade deadline whether to entertain what are likely to be numerous and substantial offers from playoff teams in search of shooting.

But if Bertans is this good in an expanded role, should the Wizards trade him? The arguments could evolve over the next few months, but at this moment I'm leaning towards they should keep him. One reason is what happened with Bojan Bogdanovic. They let him go in free agency and it blew up in their face when he blossomed into a better player than Otto Porter Jr., whom they gave a max contract, and Kelly Oubre Jr., whom they also kept.

Another reason is Wizards chairman Ted Leonsis' edict for the team's rebuild to not take long. If they want it to be quick, it makes a lot of sense to keep Bertans rather than trade him for a future asset. Plus, it's not like they are going to find another shooter like him. What he does is extremely rare.

4. Rui Hachimura has already proven he's more pro-ready than your average rookie, specifically with his ability to score in the midrange. But he has some gaps in his game he will need to fill out over time and one of them is his passing.

Hachimura only averaged 1.5 assists per game in college and is at only 1.7 per game so far as a rookie. Beyond the numbers, he doesn't pass the eye test as a guy who makes plays for others as a distributor.

Hachimura had a few nice dimes in this one, though. He threaded the needle on a pass to Beal in the first quarter on a play that ended in a foul. And he dropped a deft pass from the high post to set up Ian Mahinmi for a layup.

Hachimra has the ball in his hands enough where he has the opportunity to make a difference with his passing. Tuesday's game suggested he is improving in that area of the game.

5. Early on in this game it was easy to tell how Beal had made an adjustment in dealing with the referees. He had blasted them after Sunday's loss to the Clippers and was facing a Hornets team that came into the match-up allowing the second-fewest free throws of any team.

So, Beal made a point to open a dialogue with the refs early and often. Before he shot a free throw in the first quarter, he had a lengthy exchange with a referee, likely in attempt to explain his reasoning.

As analyst Glenn Consor noted on the NBC Sports Washington broadcast, star players can have an impact on officiating by developing a relationship with referees. Beal is a two-time All-Star, so he has some clout. Given how frustrated he's been with not getting calls, it can't hurt to try something new.

That said, Beal only got five free throw attempts on Tuesday, below his season average of 7.2 per game.

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Middleton outduels Beal as Bucks bury Wizards

Middleton outduels Beal as Bucks bury Wizards

The Washington Wizards lost to the Milwaukee Bucks 151-131 on the road on Tuesday night. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

1. The Milwaukee Bucks may appear from afar like a one-man show; Giannis Antetokounmpo and a supporting cast of good, but nowhere near great players. On Tuesday night, the Wizards got to see the Bucks without their MVP, as he sat with a shoulder injury. Turns out they are still very, very good.

Milwaukee led by as many as 32 points and won by 20 as they demolished the Wizards for much of the night with the exception of some isolated second-half runs.The Wizards would end up cutting the lead to seven midway through the third quarter, but overall they were no match for the league's best team.

The Wizards fell to 15-31 on the season, while the Bucks improved to 41-6. That puts them on pace for 72 wins, which would tie the 1995-96 Bulls for the second-best regular season record of all-time.

2. We know the Wizards aren't a good defensive team. In fact, they might be the worst defense in today's game and are arguably one of the worst in league history.

But it was still shocking to see what the Bucks did to them in the first half of this game. Milwaukee made history in several ways by scoring 88 points by the break.

Those 88 points were the most ever allowed by a Wizards/Bullets team in any half. They were the seventh-most scored in a first half in NBA history. And they were the 20th-most scored by any team in any half.

The Bucks actually broke their own record against the Wizards. Last February, they scored 85 points in the first half against Washington, which at the time was the most ever scored against the franchise in a first half. At least that time they had Antetokounmpo.

This, by the way, was the sixth time this season the Wizards have allowed 140 points or more. That is the most 140-point games allowed by a team in a single season since the 1990-91 Nuggets. 

That Denver team had 24 such games, so well ahead of the Wizards' pace. But this is only Game 46 of 82 for Washington, so don't sell them short.

3. The reason why the Bucks were able do that without Antetokounmpo was because their second- and third-best players, Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe, stepped up and played like All-Stars. Middleton may very well be in the annual showcase next month.

Middleton had a career-high 51 points, 28 of which came in the first half. He went 7-for-10 from three.

Bledsoe added 32 points, including 22 in the first half. He was 11-for-20 from the field. He also had 10 assists and six rebounds, as he bullied the Wizards - even their big men - on the boards.

4. The Wizards were able to stick around and make it interesting because Bradley Beal also put in an All-Star performance. He dropped a season-high 47 points with six assists in 38 minutes.

It was Beal's sixth 40-point game of the season. Only James Harden (16) and Trae Young (8) have more. Beal now has 18 career 40-point games, third in franchise history behind Gilbert Arenas (28) and Walt Bellamy (23). 

5. It wasn't of the Antetokounmpo caliber, but there was a pregame injury update for the Wizards that is worth noting. Backup guard Jordan McRae wasn't able to go due to a sprained right ankle.

McRae rolled his ankle on Sunday against the Hawks and it is apparently more serious than his previous ankle injury, the one to his left ankle, that he suffered on Jan. 17 against the Raptors. That one appeared to be very severe at the time, yet he was able to play in their next game.

It is unclear how long McRae will be out, but the Wizards are expected to get rookie Rui Hachimura back, perhaps within the next week.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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Wizards fail to contain Khris Middleton and fall to league-leading Bucks by 20

Wizards fail to contain Khris Middleton and fall to league-leading Bucks by 20

The Bucks didn't have Giannis Antetokounmpo, but it didn't really matter in the end as the Bucks downed the Wizards 151-131 Tuesday night in Milwaukee. 

The Wizards trailed by as many as 32 in this one, and were down 25 at the half, but as we've learned with this team, they never truly go away. And they always give us a few moments worth watching again. 

Here are some of the best moments from Washington's loss at Fiserv Forum. 

Kobe Bryant tribute

Tuesday was the Bucks' first game since Kobe Bryant passed away Sunday in a helicopter crash so after they won the tip, they took a 24-second violation to honor the late NBA legend.

The Wizards already participated in a similar tribute against the Hawks but took an eight-second violation on the following play regardless. 

The entire sports world was gutted by Bryant's tragic death, and as we continue to see tributes dedicated to him every day, it shows just how far his reach was as a global icon. 

Beal posterizes Lopez

As we stated before, the Wizards were down by as many as 32 points and faced a 25-point halftime deficit. They were able to get things close at the end of the third quarter and into the fourth, and much of the credit should go to Beal's loud poster dunk over Brook Lopez. 

Beal was so pumped up after this slam that he got a technical foul for taunting Lopez after the play. Beal secured a career-high sixth 40-point game of the year and went shot-for-shot with Khris Middleton throughout the second half. 

Middleton just couldn't miss. At all. 

Thomas Bryant draws the Wizards close

There was a time that the Wizards nearly clawed their way into a one-possession game with the NBA's best team. Thanks to Beal's heroics of course, but also Thomas Bryant's finishing inside. 

Bryant had a double-double in the game in what was his best game since coming back from injury. 

Interestingly enough, he played his best at the center spot and not power forward. Scott Brooks has been starting Bryant next to Ian Mahinmi and it's resulted in clunky offense and embarrassingly bad defense for the Wizards. 

After this game, Brooks may want to think about changing up the starting five. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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