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Wizards beat another elite team without Bradley Beal

Wizards beat another elite team without Bradley Beal

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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Another 40-point game from Bradley Beal not enough as Wizards fall to Jazz

Another 40-point game from Bradley Beal not enough as Wizards fall to Jazz

The Washington Wizards lost to the Utah Jazz 129-119 on Friday night. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

1. Only one spot in the standings separates the Wizards from the playoff picture, but it sure doesn't seem like it at the moment.

With their loss to the Jazz on Friday night, the Wizards have dropped four of five coming out of the All-Star break. They have lost nine straight games to the Jazz going back to 2016.

If the Wizards are going to figure it out soon, they will have to do so on the road. Their loss to Utah kicked off a four-game West Coast road swing.

The Wizards are now 21-37 on the season. That puts them on pace for 30 wins.

2. Within the context of this week, 30 points on Wednesday against the Nets qualified as an off-night for Bradley Beal. On Friday, he was back to his early-week form with 42 points, including 23 in the first half alone.

Beal also added 10 assists, five rebounds and two steals. He shot 17-for-33 overall and 6-for-15 from long range.

This was Beal's 10th 40-point game of the year, which is two off the franchise record for a single season. The problem is the Wizards are 1-9 in those games.

This was Beal's 17th straight 25-point game, which is tied for the longest streak ever in Wizards/Bullets history. He tied Walt Bellamy, who set the record in the 1961-62 season.

3. Some day years from now, when Rui Hachimura is asked if he remembers his 'welcome to the NBA' moment, he's probably going to answer with what Donovan Mitchell did to him in the first half on Friday night.

Mitchell threw down one of the more vicious poster dunks you will see, and it all happened in the halfcourt. Mitchell is just a different type of dunker and he got Hachimura at the perfect time with a jump off two feet.

 

On one hand, good for Hachimura for meeting him at the rim. But, man, that was ugly.

4. That moment aside, Hachimura had a solid night in the box score. He poured in 15 points on 6-for-10 shooting and added seven rebounds and three steals.

Hachimura's consistency scoring the ball already as a rookie continues to impress. This was his 35th career game and his 26th with double-figure points and his 18th with 15 points or more.

But also consistent is Hachimura's trajectory as a scorer. It was another game where he started off hot, then cooled down to disappear late.

5. It appears that Troy Brown Jr.'s decrease in minutes on Wednesday was not a one-time thing. He again took a backseat to Jerome Robinson, who played 22 minutes compared to Brown's 18.

Head coach Scott Brooks explained the move on Wednesday by saying "minutes are going to be competitive" now that the team is healthy. Robinson has evidently been showing Brooks more in recent games.

The best guess is that it involves defense. Robinson has been more impressive on that end than he has been on offense. He is a physical perimeter defender and the Wizards can use more of that.

One play in the first half demonstrated that well. He checked Jordan Clarkson at the three-point line and trailed him off the dribble to the baseline where he stuffed him to force a jumpball. It was the type of contest we haven't seen enough of from the Wizards this season.

Brown, though, has a chance to respond and he was more aggressive attacking the rim against the Jazz. That is a good sign.

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Justin Bieber's new No. 1 album features production from ex-Wizard JaVale McGee

Justin Bieber's new No. 1 album features production from ex-Wizard JaVale McGee

Former Wizard Javale McGee has a well-known reputation in the NBA for his emphatic dunks, and his name is cemented in NBA history with two championships. Now McGee can add a No. 1 album to his list of accomplishments.

McGee, who currently is helping the Los Angeles Lakers maintain the best record in the Western Conference, was listed as a contributor on the song "Available" on Justin Bieber's new hit album “Changes.” 

McGee took advantage of constantly being on the road during his career and began networking with major players in the music industry, before meeting Jason "Poo Bear" Boyd, one of Bieber's producers in 2013.

"I was in the studio with Poo Bear around November of last year," McGee told the New York Times in an article published Friday. "I didn’t know who I was making music for. I was playing some songs and samples and he stopped on this one sample that I had made. He looped it, put it in the computer and we just started writing to it. We ended up writing the whole song, but there were no drums or anything." 

McGee said a few months later when he was speaking with Boyd, he was notified that he was on the album. 

"It was amazing," McGee said. "Justin Bieber is one of the, if not the, top artists out there. So to be able to keep working and produce something for an artist like that is amazing."

Another slam-dunk.

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