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Still rediscovering his feel, Isaiah Thomas has 'one of the worst games of my career' vs Nuggets

Still rediscovering his feel, Isaiah Thomas has 'one of the worst games of my career' vs Nuggets

It took a long time for Isaiah Thomas to get back to full health following his hip surgery a year ago. While he may be 100 percent physically for the Wizards, it's taking time for him to find his groove within the game. 

Great players don't just wake up with an elite feel and natural instinct for the game. That's developed over time by playing in game after game against the best players in the world. When players miss as much time as Thomas has, it doesn't come back to them all at once. 

That means good games at times, like Thomas had against Boston a few weeks ago (18 pts 7-14 FG), and that also means some rough outings like Tuesday night in Denver (3 pts, 1-8 FG).

“One of the worst games I played, for sure, individually," Thomas said after the game.

He's spot on with his assessment. According to StatMuse, Thomas had an effective field goal percentage of 12.5 percent, marking the second-worst shooting performance of his career to date. With the way he's tailored his game to the perimeter more this season, he'll need to hit his jumpers and get his teammates involved to counteract his defensive shortcomings. 

"Physically I'm good," Thomas said. "The game man, it's going to take me a while to get my actual feel and rhythm back. Some games, I play really good, some games like tonight I just don't have it. But the feel, that's the last part of it coming together for me."

Gordon Hayward experienced a similar journey last season in Boston. after missing a full season with a fractured ankle, Hayward struggled with consistency throughout the year he returned. Once he got his confidence and feel back this season, he started playing the best basketball of his career.

Unfortunately, another injury will keep him out another few weeks, but Thomas can look to Hayward as a barometer for his road back to stardom. 

Thomas and the Wizards won't have to wait to get back on track. They visit the Suns on the second leg of a back-to-back, and if they're going to get a win out of this road trip, it might have to be Wednesday with their next two coming against the Lakers and Clippers. 

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Wizards lose emotional game to Hawks in wake of Kobe Bryant's death

Wizards lose emotional game to Hawks in wake of Kobe Bryant's death

The Washington Wizards lost to the Atlanta Hawks 152-133 on Sunday night. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

1. For some reason that may or may not be explained at a later date, the Washington Wizards and Atlanta Hawks played a basketball game on Sunday just hours after the shocking death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant.

Maybe the NBA found it fitting to honor his legacy by allowing basketball, his lifelong love, to proceed as normal. Maybe there were just too many moving pieces for commissioner Adam Silver and the league to coordinate in postponing or cancelling the eight total games that were scheduled on Sunday.

But it just felt really strange to watch two teams play a game that not only seemed inconsequential in light of the day's events, but will likely have no bearing on the playoff picture once the season is over. And it was clear to all those watching Sunday's games how difficult it was for players to operate as if everything was normal.

It was already a tragic day and games like the one the Wizards played added an awkward element that seemed unnecessary in the grand scheme of things. The result of the game, a Wizards' loss, seems meaningless.

2. Though a lot of the players probably would have preferred to not play, they ultimately did and both teams paid tribute to Bryant before and during the game.

There was a moment of silence at the arena as players and coaches held back tears. Then, once the game started, the Hawks held the ball for an eight-second violation and then the Wizards did the same for a 24-second shot clock violation.

It is amazing, really, how amazing it is that rulebook coincidence exists. Two clock violations in the NBA happen to be the jersey numbers he wore as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.

3. Trae Young went further than that by wearing a No. 8 jersey to begin the game. He then switched to his usual, No. 11 uniform once the game began.

Young then proceeded to light up the Wizards for 45 points and 14 assists. He had 21 and 10 by halftime.

Young had previously had a very tough time against the Wizards. Through five career games against Washington, he was averaging just 13.4 points while shooting 30.8 percent from the field, both his lowest numbers against any team.

This time, though, Young finally broke through. At least for now, that monkey is off his back.

4. One Wizards player who was tasked with guarding Young was Isaac Bonga, but it didn't last long as Bonga left the game in the second quarter with a fractured tooth. He did not return.

Bonga was hurt on a collision with Young at midcourt when both were going for a loose ball. Bonga dove for the ball and was on his chest on the floor when Young collided with the back of his head, which caused Bonga's face to slam downward.

Unless there are concussion symptoms, this doesn't seem like the type of injury that will keep Bonga out long. It was, however, likely pretty painful.

In addition to Bonga, Jordan McRae also exited with an injury. He re-aggravated his right ankle in the second half and did not return.

5. It would have been really interesting to see Wizards rookie Rui Hachimura play in this game. He is still roughly a week or two away from returning from a groin injury and could only watch as two players who were drafted in the same class and play the same position had impressive games against the Wizards.

De'Andre Hunter, the fourth overall pick out of the University of Virginia, had 25 points on 8-for-11 shooting. And Cam Reddish, who was picked 10th overall and right behind Hachimura out of Duke University, added 13 points.

Hachimura, 21, has so far been better than both of them, but both Hunter and Reddish seem to have turned a corner lately. In this particular game, they were solid and helped Atlanta pull away for the victory.

It may take years before we know which teams got which draft picks right. But as of now it looks like all three have potential to be very good NBA players.

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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Every way the Wizards and Hawks paid tribute to Kobe Bryant

Every way the Wizards and Hawks paid tribute to Kobe Bryant

Basketball was secondary on Sunday after Kobe Bryant was killed in a helicopter crash outside Los Angeles. 

The Wizards and Hawks had a game to play, but it was clear everyone's thoughts were with Bryant and his family. Atlanta ended up winning the game easily thanks to a dominant performance by Trae Young, but that was far from important at the end of the day. 

We usually bring you the best moments from the game, but this time we'll pivot to everything the Wizards and Hawks did to honor Bryant. 

Jerseys and shoes

Emotions were high before the game. Bryant was one of the most popular players in NBA history, so there was no surprise when a bunch of fans had his jersey on and players were wearing his shoe. 


Brooks talks Kobe

Scott Brooks met with the media before the game and gave a heartfelt statement about Bryant while fighting back tears. 

Brooks never coached Kobe, but he spent years competing against him and clearly developed a deep respect for his game and the kind of person Bryant was. 

Kobe chants

Then the crowd held a moment of silence for Bryant, which was followed swiftly by "Kobe!" chants for several moments. 


A pair of violations

Off the opening tip, Trae Young caught the ball in the backcourt and held it there until he was assessed an eight-second violation. 

Trae Young also wore a No. 8 jersey for the first possession in honor of his favorite player. 

On the following play, the Wizards took a 24-second violation, paying tribute to Bryant's two jersey numbers, 8 and 24. 

The Wizards will have Monday to recollect themselves after a trying day before having to play the Bucks on Tuesday night in Milwaukee. Meanwhile, everyone's thoughts are with Bryant's family as they deal with this tragic loss. 

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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