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Wizards' loss to the Cavaliers could come back to bite them in playoff chase

Wizards' loss to the Cavaliers could come back to bite them in playoff chase

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers 113-108 on Friday night at Capital One Arena. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

1. The current course for the Washington Wizards has them on pace to threaten for a playoff spot, yet fall just short. If that ends up happening, they will look back at a game like Friday's and wish they could have it back.

Washington led by 16 points in the first half, but couldn't sustain their offense in the second half as Cleveland dominated the fourth quarter by a score of 31-21. It was an ugly end for the Wizards in a game that started out so well for them.

The Wizards went super cold in the second half with only 42 points. They had 41 points in the first quarter alone.

The Wizards started the second part of the season, now with the All-Star break behind them, on a sour note. That was after they entered the break winners of five of seven.

2. Rui Hachimura has a knack for starting hot on offense. He came out blazing once again with nine points in his first four minutes of action, including a three from the top of the key and a strong, two-handed putback slam.

But Hachimura also has a tendency to slow down offensively in games after those hot starts. It happened again in this one, as had only two points in the second quarter and six in the second half to finish with 17.

Hachimura continues to develop and round out his offensive repertoire with an increasingly respectable three-point shot and an emerging skill set off the dribble. But he is going to need to diversify his game further to counter defenses and sustain his scoring pace once opponents make adjustments.

3. They may only rank 20th in the league in total rebounding, but it is still a major strength for the Cavs who at the trade deadline added Andre Drummond to their frontcourt which already included Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson. That No. 20 ranking was skewed by Love's injuries early this season and now they have Drummond, arguably the best rebounder in the NBA.

The Wizards are one of the worst teams in the league at cleaning the glass, but they held their overall, winning the category 61-58. In the second half, though, the Cavs tightened their grip and got timely rebounds when they needed them most. It was a major reason why they pulled out the victory.

Tristan Thompson was a killer on the glass in the fourth quarter and ended up with 11 rebounds to go along with 10 points. Drummond had 12 points and 12 boards. Love, interestingly enough, only had one rebound. 

4. Speaking of Drummond, he must be pretty tired of Bradley Beal by now. If you recall, Beal went viral early this season when he crossed Drummond out of his shoes. Okay, maybe there was a slight push-off, but social media didn't care.

Well, Beal got Drummond again and this time it was with a vicious dunk. Beal caught Drummond alone under the rim in the third quarter and threw down one of the best dunks of his career.

That woke the crowd up at Capital One Arena after an uneventful first three quarters and it must have taught Drummond a lesson. Not long after, he had another chance to defend Beal at the rim and quickly got out of the way to clear the path for a dunk. It was what they like to call a 'business decision.'

Beal, by the way, finished with 26 points. That, however, was skewed by the fact he shot 32.1 percent from the field and 1-for-10 for three.

5. The Wizards had basically their full roster healthy coming out of the All-Star break, but it was close to being a very different story. Both Thomas Bryant and Ian Mahinmi were listed as questionable on the injury report before head coach Scott Brooks revealed pregame they would be available.

Both of them had the same injury, right foot soreness. We knew about Bryant's, as he missed the final four games before the break with his foot issue, which has been a recurring problem for him this year. Mahinmi's, though, was a surprise when it first popped up in the game notes.

Bryant came back on a minutes limit and was held to 16 minutes in this one. It bears watching how each of them are handled on Sunday and Monday as the Wizards play a back-to-back.

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This date in Wizards history: Kobe Bryant scores 55 in last matchup with Michael Jordan

This date in Wizards history: Kobe Bryant scores 55 in last matchup with Michael Jordan

With the NBA season suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Wizards, or any team for that matter, are currently unable to make their mark on the NBA history books. 

So on this day, March 28th, we roll the clocks back 17 years to a major moment in not only Wizards history, but in NBA history as well. The final meeting between Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. 

2003 was Jordan's second season in Washington and his last in a legendary 15-year career where he won six championships, five MVPs, 10 scoring titles and nine All-Defensive selections.

If anyone came close to being the next MJ, it was Bryant. By their final meeting, the 24-year-old prodigy already had three titles and more than enough reason to put on a show against his idol. 

Bryant went for 55 points against the Wizards, scoring 42 in the first half. He went 15-for-29 from the field and made 9-of-13 from three. Safe to say, Bryant was on a mission following a one-point loss to the Wizards earlier that season. 

He scored an inefficient 27 points on 8-21 shooting and was outplayed by a 40-year-old Jordan. According to Gilbert Arenas, Jordan told Bryant he would never fill his shoes following the loss. In true Bryant fashion, he held onto that moment, apparently didn't talk to his teammates for two weeks leading up to the rematch and took it all out on the Wizards. 

Jordan didn't have a bad game by any stretch. He still scored 23 points on 10-20 shooting to go along with four assists, but he was simply no match for Bryant. 

The Wizards would go on to finish 37-45 miss out on the playoffs and take Jarvis Hayes with the 10th overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft.

The Lakers went for the first run of four-straight titles since Bill Russell's Celtics but fell short in the Western Conference Semifinals to Tim Duncan and the Spurs. They'd return to the Finals the following year only to lose to the Pistons. After that, Shaquille O'Neal was traded to Miami and the Lakers didn't win a championship for another five years. 

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Bradley Beal hits game-winning three to lift Wizards over Bucks in 2K simulation

Bradley Beal hits game-winning three to lift Wizards over Bucks in 2K simulation

In perhaps the most exciting 2K simulation yet, the Wizards were able to get their third straight win while getting revenge on the Bucks with a thrilling 80-79 win. 

Bradley Beal was the hero in this one, drilling a game-winning three with just 2.1 seconds left on the clock.

The Bucks, both real and virtual, might want to rethink how they guard Beal. He's torched them in every possible setting this season. He finished with 28 points and shot 12/28 from the field, scoring 12 points in the fourth quarter alone. Stop me if you've heard this song before. 

A game of runs

This game was all over the place, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. 

The Bucks started the game with an 8-0 lead, which was then followed by an 11-2 run by Washington. Then in the second, Milwaukee went on 12-2 run, only to be answered with a 7-0 run by the Wizards thanks to Troy Brown Jr. 

The Wizards led by four points at the end of the first half, but then the Bucks used a 15-6 run in the third to build a lead going into the final frame. 

The fourth quarter featured four lead changes in just eight minutes of play, with the Bucks leading by five with 1:20 left in the game. That was, of course, until the Wizards went on an 11-5 run to end the game. 

A back-and-forth contest in the way you'd least expect, but at least it made for some entertaining hoops. 

Wizards overcome Giannis

In consecutive 2K simulation against the Wizards, Giannis Antetokounmpo has been an absolute monster. 

On Friday night, the reigning MVP went off for 38 points and 14 rebounds and shot 16-for-21 from the floor. Once again, he was impossible to keep out of the paint and the Wizards' front line, like every other team in the NBA, didn't have much of an answer for him. 

Still, the Wizards were able to overcome such a performance this time, mostly thanks to Eric Bledsoe.

The Bucks point guard had a terrible shooting night, going 2-12 from the field for a measly seven points. He even had a chance to redeem himself at the final buzzer, but his potential game-winning shot rolled right off the rim as the final buzzer sounded. 

Other parting thoughts

Before Beal hit the game-winner, Jerome Robinson had the highlight of the night with a no-look pass to Thomas Bryant for a dunk. Since the 2K version of Scott Brooks swapped Robinson for Brown in the starting lineup, both players have played really well in their new roles. 

Brown had 12 points in 14 minutes, while Robinson had 13 of his own to go along with a few impressive dunks. 

Something interesting happened during the second quarter. The 2K broadcast crew consisting of Kevin Harlan, Greg Anthony and Chris Webber mentioned how there has always been a rift between Beal and teammate John Wall. Beal denied the idea in-game, which goes right along with how he's addressed the situation in real life. Just an interesting moment in the first half.

Bryant continues to be an exceptional shot-blocker in a video-game setting. He had several impressive swats against the Celtics earlier in the week, and he did so again Friday in Milwaukee. 

Now, winners of three straight, the 2K Wizards will have their work cut out for them Saturday as they'll play host to LeBron James and the Lakers at virtual Capital One Arena. 

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