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Wizards finally grab a win with roster back to full strength

Wizards finally grab a win with roster back to full strength

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards beat the Detroit Pistons 106-100 on Martin Luther King Jr. Day at Capital One Arena. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

1. After beating Nuggets and Celtics despite missing half their roster due to injuries not that long ago, logic would suggest the Wizards could take it up a notch and maybe start winning more consistently once they got healthy. It took a few games, but they got one on Monday against the Pistons.

The Wizards ran away in the fourth quarter to snap a three-game losing streak and beat Detroit for the third time this season. They closed the season series between the teams with a 3-1 record.

Ian Mahinmi helped lead the way offensively, because of course he did. Mahinmi had 21 points, shot 9-for-10 and added seven rebounds, three steals, two blocks and he made a three-pointer. That was all in 23 minutes, which is just absurd.

He even got a standing ovation from Wizards fans when he fouled out in the fourth quarter, and it's not the first time that has happened this season. What a time to be alive.

The Wizards opened the second half of the season with a victory and now stand 14-28 on the year.

2. Bradley Beal might be close to fully back. Though this was his fourth game since returning from injury, the first three saw him play on a minutes limit and they featured some uneven shooting performances.

On Monday, though, he played 34 minutes, close to his season average of 35.5. And he poured in 29 points on 10-for-21 shooting with six assists.

Beal also made some history. In the third quarter, Beal passed Wes Unseld to move into fourth place for career points on the Wizards/Bullets all-time list. The only three ahead of him are Elvin Hayes, Jeff Malone and John Wall.

If he continues his usual pace, Beal should pass Wall by the end of the season and could overtake Malone not long after. All of this is a reminder that Beal is already one of the best players in franchise history. If he sticks around, as he has indicated he will by signing a contract extension, he will likely have his jersey up in the rafters someday.

3. Beal's backup, Jordan McRae, played in this one just two days after suffering what appeared at the time to be a serious ankle injury. The fact McRae was even able to practice on Sunday was surprising.

McRae was solid, at times providing his usual spark on offense. He had seven points and eight rebounds in 25 minutes.

Garrison Mathews appeared to get lucky with his own ankle injury earlier this month and McRae really dodged a bullet. It goes to show that it's tough to gauge the severity of an injury when they happen. Some times it's much worse than we realize, but often times it's not nearly as bad as it looks.

4. It looks like the experiment with Thomas Bryant playing power forward alongside Mahinmi may be over with. Head coach Scott Brooks rolled with that combo in his starting lineup for back-to-back games before putting Bryant back on the bench.

Isaac Bonga ended up getting the start instead of Bryant, who played a lot of backup center. Maybe it had something to do with Andre Drummond being on the Pistons, but the Wizards had been outscored by 16 points on average in their previous three games and a change was warranted.

Complicating matters already was the fact Bryant is on a minutes restriction. Brooks is dealing with three players on minutes limits in Bryant, Beal and Davis Bertans. Bryant has been on the most strict at between 15 and 20 minutes a night. Brooks admitted before Monday's game that it's a difficult task building a rotation with all of those factors.

Back to Drummond. Watching him compete against the Wizards amid trade rumors brings up the obvious question of whether he would fit in Washington. It was a topic of conversation among Wizards and Pistons beat writers before the game.

On one hand, Drummond would help the Wizards with one of their biggest weaknesses, which is rebounding. And he would technically be the best third piece Beal and Wall have ever played with. But I'd have to lean no due to the money he will likely make on his next contract (he's a free agent this summer) because the Wizards can't afford to overpay anyone, or pay big money to a good but not great player, with Wall's money on the books. 

They are likely better off waiting for a better player becoming available in trade talks, someone more multi-dimensional.

5. McRae was in, but Anzejs Pasecniks was out with a sprained left ankle. That is a new injury for Pasecniks, which he apparently sustained on Sunday at practice.

The Wizards have enough depth now with their roster mostly healthy to compensate. And with the players they now have, Pasecniks wouldn't play much anyways.

But it's still something to monitor, as he could be useful as a backup center as long as Moe Wagner remains out with his ankle issue.

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Wizards vs. Nets: time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Wizards vs. Nets: time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Wizards enter Wednesday's matchup with the Nets having lost three straight games since the All-Star break, but not all losses are created equal.

First, they fell at home to the struggling Cavaliers, followed by a road loss to the also-struggling Bulls. Then, they took the Bucks, the best team in basketball, to overtime in a thrilling 137-134 loss Monday night.

The real story, though, is the recent play of Bradley Beal. The Wizards' star has scored at least 25 points in 15 straight games, the second-longest streak in team history. 

More importantly, he dropped 53 and 55 points in back-to-back nights Sunday and Monday. He's the first NBA player to reach 50 points in back-to-back losses in more than 50 years, and he has the most combined points in back-to-back games in franchise history.

The biggest question Wednesday night will be what he has in store for a follow up. Here is everything you need to know.

WIZARDS vs. NETS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards vs. Brooklyn Nets

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington D.C.

When: Wednesday, February 26, 2020, at 7:00 p.m.

TV Channel: Wizards vs. Nets will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Wizards vs. Nets on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the MyTeams App.

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM

WIZARDS vs. NETS TV SCHEDULE

6:00 PM: Wizards Outsiders

6:30 PM: Wizards Pregame Live

7:00 PM: Wizards vs. Nets

9:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live

10:00 PM: DC Sports Live

10:30 PM: Wizards Talk

WIZARDS vs. NETS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Bradley Beal, Wizards (30.1 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 6.0 APG): Beal has scored 53 and 55 points in his last two games, the first player in franchise history to score at least 50 in back-to-back nights. What will he do for an encore?

Spencer Dinwiddie, Nets (20.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 6.7 APG):  With Kyrie Irving out for the season, Dinwiddie is the Nets' leading scorer and assist man. He will be charged with going toe-to-toe with the scorching hot Beal.

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Bradley Beal's brilliance is worth appreciating, no matter the games ending in losses

Bradley Beal's brilliance is worth appreciating, no matter the games ending in losses

WASHINGTON -- You don't often see emotions mixed in basketball to the degree they were for Bradley Beal on Monday night. After his team fell just short against the Milwaukee Bucks in overtime, he described the game as simultaneously "terrible" and "the most fun [he's] ever played in."

That is a bizarre range of extremes. But it also makes perfect sense if you either watched the game or took a glance at where Beal's recent surge has placed in NBA history.

Take for instance the fact Beal scored 55 points, a career-high, one night after setting a career-high with 53 points against the Bulls. He became the first player since Wilt Chamberlain in 1962, 58 years ago, to have 53 points or more in consecutive games and lose both of them.

Two losses in two games, but 108 points scored. That will certainly leave you conflicted.

Also look at the way the game transpired. Beal scored 22 of the Wizards' final 24 points in regulation to force overtime. It was a miracle effort against a Bucks team currently on pace for the third-most regular season wins in NBA history. The 20-35 Wizards even forcing an extra period against this team and after trailing by 20 points was impressive in its own right.

Still, they lost. And that left Beal talking out both sides of his mouth.

"I'm a winner, so you can throw those 55 out with the last 53," Beal said seconds before adding: "We showed some resilience. In our head, we're viewing this as a first round match-up if we get [to the playoffs]. This is kind of our message to them."

Really though, no matter the result, this was arguably the best game of Beal's career and not just because of the point total. You could build a case for other games of his, ones where he had triple-doubles or that actually resulted in Wizards wins. But scoring 22 of his team's 24 points in a span of about seven minutes to will them to overtime was a next-level takeover. 

And Beal happened to have this night with the reigning MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and fellow All-Star Khris Middleton on the court. Beal, of course, was not a 2020 All-Star and this was yet another moment that made people say he should have been one.

"He’s an All-Star," guard Shabazz Napier said. "We expect that."

Beal was not an All-Star, though. And the more he plays like this, the more he does indeed make it seem ludicrous he wasn't one. After these last two games, for example, he is now averaging 30.1 points per game, the most in the Eastern Conference. Only James Harden (35.3) is averaging more this season.

Speaking of Harden and Chamberlain, Beal joined them as one of only three players in NBA history to score 53 points or more in consecutive games. He is the first to drop 50 on back-to-back nights since Kobe Bryant in 2007. Those are some of the very best scorers of all-time.

So, maybe Beal's name wasn't included with Middleton and Kyle Lowry and Ben Simmons, and the other Eastern Conference All-Star reserves. For now, he will just have to settle with Chamberlain, Bryant and Harden instead.

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