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Wizards struggle on both ends of the floor in 121-106 loss to Pacers

Wizards struggle on both ends of the floor in 121-106 loss to Pacers

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.

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Pelicans' star rookie Zion Williamson out vs. Wizards

Pelicans' star rookie Zion Williamson out vs. Wizards

The Wizards will have to wait until next year to face Zion Williamson for the first time.

The Pelicans' star rookie will sit out on Friday night as the Wizards face New Orleans at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. Williamson is resting on the second night of a back-to-back. The Pelicans played the Kings on Thursday night.

The Wizards also missed Williamson last July in the Summer League after he suffered a knee injury in his first game in Las Vegas. They also had one of their games this season against the Pelicans cancelled due to the NBA's long hiatus because of the coronavirus outbreak.

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Someday, the Wizards will see Williamson and when they do, it will be interesting to watch him match up with Rui Hachimura, who was in the same draft class and plays the same position. Williamson was the No. 1 overall pick and Hachimura was picked ninth.

RELATED: HOW YOUNG PHENOMS HAVE FARED AGAINST WIZARDS

For now, the Wizards will battle a Pelicans team headlined by Brandon Ingram, Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball.

Stay connected to the Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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How to watch Wizards vs. Pelicans

How to watch Wizards vs. Pelicans

In their fifth game inside the NBA's Disney bubble, the Washington Wizards will get their first look at New Orleans Pelicans rookie phenom Zion Williamson. The question is how much will Williamson play?

After losing, 107-98, to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday, the Wizards (24-44) dropped to 0-4 in bubble play, severely hurting their playoffs, as well as their lottery odds. While not officially eliminated from the playoff picture, they now trail the Orlando Magic (32-37) by 7.5 games for the final spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Pelicans (29-39) have their own ground to make up as trail the Memphis Grizzlies (32-37) by 2.5 games for the final spot in the Western Conference with four other teams between them. With fierce competition for the final few playoff spots, will the Pelicans be willing to increase Williamson's playing minutes

Friday's broadcast will be a special one, as five-time Wizards All-Star John Wall will join Justin and Glenn on the broadcast. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.
 

WIZARDS vs. PELICANS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Wizards vs. New Orleans Pelicans

Where: Visa Athletic Center, Orlando, Fla.

When: Friday, August 7, 8 p.m. ET

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

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

Radio: Wizards Radio Network, 1500 AM


WIZARDS vs. PELICANS TV SCHEDULE

7:00 PM: Wizards Pregame Live (LIVE) (NBCSW)

8:00 PM: Wizards at Pelicans (LIVE) (NBCSW)

10:30 PM: Wizards Postgame Live (LIVE) (NBCSW)

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WIZARDS VS. PELICANS WHAT TO WATCH

The Wizards will likely have their hands full with former No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson. Despite only playing in 23 games this season, Williamson is averaging 22.4 points and 6.2 rebounds in just 27.9 minutes. The minutes will be the thing to watch as the Pelicans have kept a watchful eye on their superstar's workload.

Despite competing in the NBA bubble without their three top players John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Davis Bertans, the Wizards have been remained competitive despite their record. Thomas Bryant's performance, particularly his recent defensive play, is an example of how the Wizards' bubble experience will likely be measured on the growth and development of its young players.

RELATED: REDRAFTING THE 2003 NBA DRAFT


WIZARDS VS. PELICANS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Thomas Bryant, C, Wizards (12.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 1.9 apg): There's no denying Thomas Bryant's physical skill set. In Wednesday's matchup against 76ers center Joel Embiid, Bryant held The Process to just 3-of-11 shooting. Bryant will need to continue his defensive momentum on Friday against a Pelicans team averaging 115.8 points per game, good for fifth-best in the NBA.

Zion Williamson, PF, Pelicans (22.4 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 2.1 apg): This one is easy. If the Pelicans are going to make noise in the Disney bubble, it;ll have to be Zion Williamson leading the way. On Thursday against the Kings, Williamson recorded 24 points on 12 shots in 21 minutes. That kind of efficiency is not something you see often, especially by a rookie.

Stay connected to the Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

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