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.
The B in Brad stands for BOUNCE‼️ pic.twitter.com/tiogAyfGUa— NBC Sports Wizards (@NBCSWizards) December 11, 2019
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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