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.
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