The Washington Wizards lost to the Orlando Magic 120-113 on Sunday night. Here are five takeaways from what went down...
The Wizards have a major problem in the fourth quarter. For the third straight game as they open the 2020-21 season, the Wizards played good enough to win through three quarters, only to fall apart late on both ends of the floor.
This time it was in devastating fashion, as they lost for the second straight night against the Orlando Magic to get swept in a back-to-back. They are now 0-3 on the season.
Losing two to the Magic could come back and bite the Wizards, who are hoping to be competing for a playoff spot in just a few months. Orlando got the eight-seed last year and is off to a 3-0 start this season.
The Wizards led by 17 after three, only to be outscored 43-19 in the fourth. Through three games, they are allowing an average of 40.3 points in the fourth quarter.
As for why they are playing so poorly in the fourth, clearly there has been terrible execution. But NBC Sports Washington color analyst Drew Gooden had an interesting theory on the broadcast that maybe guys aren't in good enough condition if they are fading late.
In the final minutes of this game, we saw Nikola Vucevic push Thomas Bryant around on his way to the rim. Markelle Fultz drove past Raul Neto like he wasn't even there. Davis Bertans and Bradley Beal both missed shots they thought they were fouled on.
The final result was just a truly terrible loss.
Beal had another big night.
Though they lost, Beal put on a show for much of the night. He had 29 points, seven assists and five rebounds, with a perfect 9-for-9 night at the free throw line. He didn't shoot well overall, going 10-of-29 from the field, but still put on a master class in dissecting an NBA defense.
Evan Fournier and the Orlando Magic were hopeless in stopping him. He casually dropped in shots from all over the floor, using stepbacks, crossovers and hesitation moves to create separation whenever he wanted it.
The problem, of course, is that he and the Wizards didn't get the win. Surely, Beal will look back at a few fourth-quarter plays and wish he had them back.
Neto stepped up
With Russell Westbrook out due to rest, the Wizards bumped Neto into the starting lineup despite the fact he is technically their third point guard. Head coach Scott Brooks likes to do that to keep other players in their roles, in this case, Ish Smith as the leader of the second unit.
Neto took advantage of the opportunity with 22 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals. He finished two points short of his career-high.
Neto shot a solid 10-of-17 from the field. He has a quick first step and a knack for avoiding shot-blockers around the basket, finishing with both hands.
Neto has a growing sample size of impressive play, going back to the start of training camp. At this point, Brooks has no choice but to play him, even if Westbrook is in the lineup. Either way, the Wizards are in good shape when Westbrook has to sit out one game of back-to-backs. They have two more coming up in their next seven games.
2020 draft class has talent
This game featured a battle between the No. 9 pick, Deni Avdija, and the No. 15 pick, Cole Anthony, of the 2020 NBA Draft. Both are already showing promise very early in their careers and that has been a trend across the league in their draft class.
That's notable because this was yet another draft that got labeled a down year in terms of talent. That seems to be the consensus almost every summer, yet every draft produces stars.
Time will tell if this class has any league-changing superstars, but the talent is already on display. Top picks like Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman are balling out for the T'Wolves and Warriors. And there are plenty of later picks like Tyrese Haliburton of the Kings and Precious Achiuwa of the Heat who are flashing their potential.
Avdija and Anthony have already made an impact for their teams, the Wizards and the Magic. In this game, Avdija had nine points and nine rebounds, while Anthony had 12 points and seven boards.
Lopez' circus shot
Robin Lopez is known more for his defense and his rebounding, but he can be an occasional threat on offense, usually with an awkward-looking hook shot that seems to go in every time he tries it.
But in this game, he busted out a brand new move that was, well, interesting. Somehow, Lopez made an off-balance circus shot that likely made everyone who saw it live laugh.
Lopez happens to be a hilarious person off the court, as you may be able to tell by the few interviews he's done since joining the Wizards. Apparently, he can be funny on the court as well.