Wizards

Wizards

WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards lost to the Sacramento Kings 113-106 on Sunday night at Capital One Arena. Here are five takeaways from what went down...

1. The Wizards' recipe for wins this season is predicated on them scoring lots of points because their defense isn't good enough to be an equalizer. Their offense was merely average in Sunday's loss to the Kings, and it proved to be their downfall.

The Wizards did score 106 points, which at a glance is still a good amount, but for this team that technically constitutes a bad night. Keep in mind they had scored 120 points or more the last five straight games, their longest such streak since 1978. That was also the last year they won an NBA title, interestingly enough.

The streak, however, is now over in part because the Wizards committed 17 turnovers, which the Kings turned into 17 points on the other end. The Wizards still made 13 threes and shot 38.2 percent from long range, but it wasn't enough.

2. Part of why the Wizards' offense wasn't the juggernaut we had seen in recent games is that Bradley Beal was off. After scoring 30 points or more in five straight games, he was held to 20 in this one.

Beal was harassed all night by the Kings' defense and was limited to 18 field goal attempts. He shot 8-for-18 from the field, good for a solid 44.4 percentage, but forcing the ball out of his hands proved to be an effective strategy for Sacramento when many teams have failed trying to do just that.

 

The key number for Beal might be his 41 minutes played. He logged 42 minutes on Friday night, and this was the first game of a stretch with three more games in four nights.

3. Troy Brown Jr. had another rough night offensively. He had zero points and missed all of his six shots.

Brown has a knack for plays that look good until they don't. He will make a crafty move to get separation only to turn the ball over in a frustrating way or miss badly with his shot.

Against the Kings, he had a step on his defender in the first quarter, only to airball a floater. In the third quarter, he made a nice move to his right and missed a contested layup he should have been able to finish.

Head coach Scott Brooks has been using a fluid late-game rotation where he will end games with guys who have the hot hand. That has left Brown out of the fourth-quarter mix quite often recently. He sat late in the Kings in favor of Jordan McRae, who also got the minutes late against the Hornets on Friday night.

Brown only played 15 minutes. Ideally, he would play more given how important his development is for the Wizards, but it's hard to blame Brooks for going away from him in this one.

4. One of the biggest reasons why the Wizards have been one of the best offensive teams in basketball this season is because of their ball movement. For the most part, the ball doesn't stick with any player and the unselfishness leads to open looks.

Though the Wizards didn't score as much as they have in recent games, those traits were on display against the Kings. The Wizards, who lead the NBA in assists, had a series of extra passes to find open shots that you just didn't see them do as often in recent years with other players in the mix.

In the first half, Moe Wagner could have gone up with a layup when charging into the lane, but instead threw the ball to his left to find Ish Smith for an open three that he knocked down.

Beal also had some nice assists to Thomas Bryant on plays where he drove and could have taken the shot himself. On one midway through the second quarter, Beal drew a double-team at the baseline and swung a bounce pass around a defender to set up an easy dunk for Bryant.

Beal is the Wizards' best player and no one would fault him if he took 25-to-30 shots per night. When he makes the extra pass, it sets a tone for everyone else. 

5. The Wizards caught the Kings at a good time due to injuries, but couldn't capitalize. They were missing star point guard De'Aaron Fox as well as 2018 second overall pick, Marvin Bagley III. Two-time former Wizard Trevor Ariza was also not with the team due to personal reasons.

 

The difference between the Kings with and without Fox is particularly noticeable as he is one of the fastest players in the NBA, a gifted passer and reliable scorer. With him last season they ranked fifth in pace, but this year are 28th, averaging over five fewer possessions per game. 

They have a roster built to capitalize on his speed and his departure changes everything. It's not unlike the Wizards and John Wall, though this year's offensive numbers for Washington have shown they don't need him to score as much as they used to. The Wizards, in fact, are sixth in pace this season. Having Smith certainly helps that cause.

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