The Washington Wizards beat the New York Knicks 114-96 on Wednesday night. Here are five takeaways from what went down...
1. The All-Star break may have come at a bad time for the Wizards, who are all of a sudden playing quite easily their best basketball of the season.
They ran away in the fourth quarter against the Knicks on Wednesday night to win their fifth game in seven tries. That makes them winners of seven of their last 12 games. They are ninth in the Eastern Conference, just one spot outside the playoff picture.
Taking over a week off now could affect their momentum. Those rooting for them to get a high draft pick might see that as a good thing.
2. Bradley Beal went into the break on a high note. He poured in 30 points to go along with two steals and a block. He shot 11-for-23 on the night.
That puts Beal at 29.1 points per game on the season, which ranks fifth in the NBA. Reminder he was not chosen as an All-Star.
Beal, by the way, produced a remarkable stat in this game. According to Elias, he became the 16th youngest player in NBA history to score 11,000 career points. Beal got there at 26 years and 229 days old. The youngest, of course, was LeBron James, who did it at 23.
Sixteenth, though, is no small feat. There have been a lot of great scorers in NBA history. Only 16 players puts Beal in an exclusive group.
3. This wasn't the prettiest game, as the two teams combined to shoot 13-for-53 (25.4%) from three. It also got chippy at times with two ejections.
Both Bobby Portis and Moe Wagner got tossed and in entertaining ways. Portis lost his cool when Shabazz Napier took a three-point shot after the whistle. He jumped up to goaltend, so Napier gave him a sarcastic thumbs-up. That must have set Portis off because he then threw the ball at the Wizards guard. To no one's surprise, he was quickly sent to the locker room.
The reason why Wagner exited wasn't nearly as funny. He just got two technicals, the least likely for using a magic word. But after he was tossed, he ran straight into the locker room.
Most guys just walk off the court and down the tunnel. For some reason, he was in a rush. Maybe he didn't want to hear it from Knicks fans.
4. When Jerome Robinson first got traded here, one stat in particular from his time with the L.A. Clippers stood out above all. He had the best defensive rating of any player on the team. The Clippers, of course, have some of the best defenders in the NBA with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
It by no means meant Robinson was the best defensive player on the Clippers. But it suggested something might be there and the Wizards can use any help they can get on that end of the floor.
So far through three games with the Wizards, Robinson's play has passed the eye test. He has quick feet on defense, is committing to putting pressure on the ball and isn't afraid of contact. The tools seem to be there for him to become a perimeter pest.
5. The Wizards don't play again until Feb. 21 when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers, which means they will have eight full days off before their next game.
There will be some Wizards in action this weekend, though, at All-Star weekend in Chicago. Rui Hachimura and Moe Wagner will be in the Rising Stars game on Friday night and then Davis Bertans will participate in the three-point contest on Saturday.
I will be in Chicago, along with Chris Miller, following the Wizards representatives around. So, look out for some interviews with those guys in the next few days.
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