WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards beat the Denver Nuggets 128-114 on Saturday night at Capital One Arena. Here are five takeaways from what went down...
1. Add the Denver Nuggets to the list.
The Wizards, though not an elite basketball team by any stretch, have made a habit of pulling off monumental upsets. They caught the Sixers in early December and just last week beat the Heat without Bradley Beal.
This time it was the Nuggets, who arrived in Washington with the second-best record in the Western Conference. And the Wizards did it again without Beal, by far their best player.
Given the injuries and opponent, the Heat was quite clearly their best win of the season at the time. Now that is up for debate.
2. Troy Brown Jr. had a rough night on Friday, going 3-for-10 from the field with a hideous -31 mark in the box score. On Saturday, he bounced back with one of the best games of his career.
Brown jumped all over Denver early to drop 18 points in the first half on 7-for-8 shooting. He finished with 25 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and a steal. He shot 10-for-12.
This has been the story of Brown's season so far. He looks great one night and then the next takes a step back. Consistency has been an issue for him, as it is for many young players.
3. Ish Smith is simply a joy to watch play basketball.
He may only be six feet tall, he may be a back-up point guard; but night after night he produces for the Wizards and seems to have no qualms with whatever they ask him to do. He pushes the pace and creates opportunities for others and plays solid defense.
This year, he is also shooting better than he ever has before. He entered Saturday's game with a career-high 37 percent clip from three.
Smith once again lit a spark off the bench for the Wizards, this time with a career-high 32 points on 15-for-24 shooting. He is so quick, that he can get separation against any defense, including one as tough and good as the Nuggets. He led the way towards a franchise-record 92 bench points.
The fact Smith just continues to churn out solid games is worth appreciating. Beyond Beal, he has arguably been their most reliable player this season.
4. Isaiah Thomas came back one night after getting ejected less than two minutes into the Wizards' loss to the Blazers and it seemed like he wanted to make up for it by taking a lot of shots and early. By the end of the first quarter, he was 1-for-7 from the field.
A cynic might say it was because getting bounced 90 seconds into a game hurt his scoring average. Maybe it was just how the game flowed in his eyes.
Either way, he never got into a rhythm and ended up with nine points on 2-for-9 from the field. He also, of course, didn't provide much resistance on defense.
In fact, this was one of those nights where the Wizards seemed to play a lot better with Smith on the floor than they did with Thomas. And it led to head coach Scott Brooks going away from Thomas in the second half. He only played 17 minutes compared to Smith's 34.
5. Beal missed his second straight game with right lower leg soreness. He has now been sidelined for four of the last five games overall after playing in 194 straight.
It wasn't all that unexpected he would miss this one. Brooks did explain the night before how Beal had a setback, that he wasn't sitting on Friday just to rest in the first game of a back-to-back.
It sounds like Beal could play on Monday against the Celtics, but now with no streak on the line and the Wizards become more and more realistic with their fate this season, there is no reason to push it. Might as well wait until he's truly 100 percent to bring him back.
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