Extra players have little impact in Wizards loss to Hawks originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The Washington Wizards lost to the Atlanta Hawks 116-100 on Friday night. Here are five takeaways from what went down...
This season has been nothing short of a nightmare for the Wizards so far, with injuries, a widespread outbreak of the coronavirus and a lot of losing. Even with more players back in the mix, the losing continued on Friday night.
Once again, the Wizards were overmatched by an opponent, this time losing to the Atlanta Hawks in a game they trailed by 23. Through four games since returning from their 13-day layoff, the Wizards have rarely looked like a competitive NBA team. Even with the built-in excuses, it's inexcusable how they have played.
Granted, they are clearly feeling the effects of their time off. That is evident by the fact their four worst scoring performances of the season have been in the last four games, all of which they have lost.
The Wizards are now 3-12 on the season. That gives them the worst win percentage in the NBA. This is not a good situation, all-around.
Key guys returned
The Wizards got a few guys back from the NBA's COVID-19 protocol for this one, including Rui Hachimura and Davis Bertans. Unfortunately, they didn't make much of an impact at all. Hachimura topped out at nine points on 3-for-9 shooting, while Bertans had one point and shot 0-for-7.
They just didn't look like they were up to speed yet, perhaps a combination of conditioning and timing. Each missed a series of shots on the front of the rim, which always suggests a player's legs aren't in shape.
Moe Wagner was also back off the protocol list but appeared headed for a DNP until Robin Lopez was ejected in the third quarter. That may mean Wagner has been replaced as the No. 2 center by the recently signed Alex Len.
Westbrook looked better
Despite the loss, Russell Westbrook had arguably his best game with the Wizards and generally looked quicker and more engaged. Right off the bat, he was aggressive attacking the rim instead of settling for long twos and he even made three shots from long range. He had a season-high 26 points (8-18 FG) to go along with six rebounds and four assists.
Westbrook looked more assertive in this game, just as he did late in Tuesday's loss to the Rockets. That night, it seemed like John Wall talking trash to him lit a spark. The same thing may have happened in this game, as he got into a back-and-forth with Rajon Rondo baiting Westbrook into two technicals and a fourth-quarter ejection. If you recall, Rondo's brother was ejected from a game in the Orlando bubble for heckling Westbrook.
Westbrook's quad injury has been a storyline this season, so maybe it's just getting healthier. But if it has anything to do with him being motivated by opponents, that would be odd given Westbrook's reputation as a relentless competitor who always goes 100 miles per hour. Traditionally, he hasn't needed help to find that extra gear.
Beal looks frustrated
While the whole basketball world is wondering how Bradley Beal feels about all this losing, his body language in the last four games has told us plenty. The guy just looks beaten down by what has been an extremely difficult season, both in terms of their record and, of course, the unusual circumstances of the coronavirus.
Beal has still put up numbers - he had 26 points in this one - but he does not seem to be having fun out there. This looks different than the usual version of him when he's playing well and the rest of the team isn't. Clearly, all of it is weighing heavily on him.
More help on the way
The Wizards expect to have three more players coming off the Covid-19 protocol list next game: Deni Avdija, Troy Brown Jr. and Ish Smith. That will give them essentially all of their players back, as only Thomas Bryant will be missing, as he is out for the year with an ACL injury.
The more players the Wizards get back, the fewer excuses they will have to point to if the losing continues and that will naturally put some pressure on head coach Scott Brooks. It was understandable when they lost while missing a bunch of their best players, but now they should have enough to win some games.