The Washington Wizards lost to the Indiana Pacers 121-106 on Wednesday night. Here are five takeaways from what went down...
1. As refreshing as it has been to watch the upstart Wizards give honest efforts and play with energy so far this season, the reality is that it's difficult to win in the NBA with young players and especially on the road. Reality set in on Wednesday night, as they were no match for a Pacers team missing three of their best players.
The Wizards had no answer for the Pacers' vaunted defense. Washington shot 38.9 percent from the field and committed 17 turnovers. Indiana turned those miscues into 26 points on the other end.
The veteran, defensive-minded Pacers basically just played clean basketball and allowed the Wizards to beat themselves. Washington did exactly that and now head back home with a 2-5 record, having lost four of their last five games.
2. We have seen a significant shift in Bradley Beal's stat lines already this season that reflects an adjustment on his part. After averaging 7.8 assists per game in his first four outings, he has only dished 12 of them total in the last three. Though he had five assists on Wednesday, he didn't get his first until the final minute of the first half.
In the first few games of the season, it seemed like Beal was making sure he set up others first before looking for his own shot. But in recent games, he has been more aggressive trying to get himself into a shooting rhythm early. That change may be a response to his efficiency numbers being down from his career norms.
Beal ended up with 30 points against the Pacers, but had another bad shooting night from long range. He went 1-for-12 from three and is now shooting just 28.8 percent from the perimeter on the year.
3. Now that C.J. Miles is in the mix after his injury recovery, the shooting potential of the Wizards' second unit is starting to show. Miles is a veteran, professional three-point shooter and Davis Bertans is even better. Then, you have Moe Wagner, who can get hot from long range.
Those three went a combined 8-for-16 from three. Wagner hit two, while Miles and Bertans each made three.
That's your small forward, power forward and center and they can all shoot. Ish Smith is perfect to run with them, too, with his speed and ability to penetrate.
The Wizards' starting lineup does not stack up favorably across the NBA, but their bench unit could be an asset to help them get back in games or grow leads.
4. Shooting could be a real strength for the Wizards' second unit, but defense is not. They got cooked all night be a Pacers' bench that was depleted by the injuries to their starting lineup. With Victor Oladipo, Jeremy Lamb and Myles Turner all missing, others stepped up to fill the void and score at will on the Wizards all night.
Goga Bitadze, the 18th overall pick in last June's draft, had 13 points in 20 minutes, just casually scoring over and over in the midrange and around the rim.
Doug McDermott lit up Washington for 19 points off the bench, including 17 in the first half alone. The Wizards offered no resistance to his outside shooting, as he went 4-for-6 from three.
The bench led the way for the Pacers in the first half, but in the second half their starters got going. All five of their starters reached double figures, including Aaron Holiday who had 18 and T.J. Warren who had 21. Malcolm Brogdon had 12 points and 13 assists.
5. While Rui Hachimura had a bounceback performance against the Pistons on Monday, he laid an egg on Wednesday in Indiana. The Wizards rookie was held to zero points on 0-for-5 shooting, though he did have eight rebounds.
The Pacers have one of the best defensive systems in the league. They play disciplined team defense and have physical big men that can make things tough in the midrange and around the basket. Those are the areas Hachimura does the most damage and open shots just weren't there for him against the Pacers.
Hachimura was so off that head coach Scott Brooks went away from him entirely in the second half, instead relying on Miles and Bertans as his forwards.
MORE WIZARDS NEWS: