The Washington Wizards lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves 135-130 in overtime on Saturday night. Here are five observations from the game...
1. Two road games in two days resulted in two tight losses when the team cannot afford any setbacks.
There were moments of excitement for sure. The Wizards led by 15 points in the first half and 11 at halftime. When the shots stopped falling during a late-game stretch and the Timberwolves crawled into a 118-14 lead with 14 seconds remaining, Bradley Beal uncorked his latest star turn.
He finished with 36 points including the Wizards' final 14 of regulation with a step back, game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer to force the extra period tied 121-121. The Timberwolves would play the final 8.3 seconds of the fourth plus overtime without Karl-Anthony Towns, who obliterated the Wizards for 40 points and 16 rebounds before leaving with a right knee injury, provided additional hope. Alas, nope.
Minnesota (31-35) took control with an 8-2 run fueled partly by two of Washington's 18 turnovers. Derrick Rose had 29 points with a pull-up jumper during the decisive stretch.
Beal added 10 rebounds and nine assists for the Wizards (27-39), who fell 4 ½ games behind the Miami Heat for the eighth and final playoff berth.
Washington starts a five-game homestand Monday against Sacramento.
2. The roller coaster ride with Trevor Ariza's 3-point attempts continues. Saturday's work was certainly more peak than valley, finishing 7 of 11 from distance including one closing the first half.
BUZZER BEATER 🚨🚨🚨
Wiz end the first half up 71-60 pic.twitter.com/VL435sYIv2
— NBC Sports Wizards (@NBCSWizards) March 10, 2019
Those dips though lurk. Here's Ariza's last 10 games from beyond the arc: 3-6, 3-9, 2-7, 0-4, 3-8, 0-5, 3-6, 3-6, 0-4, 7-11.
That's 31 percent before Saturday's showing, a percentage in line with his overall 36 games stretch with the Wizards this season. The career 35 percent shooter from beyond the arc entered Saturday shooting 31.2 percent since joining Washington in December.
Ariza's 3-and-D reputation is worthy, but he's one of those shooters best suited when set up rather than creating his own opportunity. The Wizards made the deal with the Suns thinking Ariza would be the latest wing benefitting from the point guard's passing.
We know how that turned out – and that Wall won't be available until deep into next season. That's something to keep in mind as Washington ponders how much to offer the free agent forward this summer. Nights like Saturday remind all the upside when the shots are falling for the 3-and-D forward.
3. Projecting a Beal comeback after a 4 of 21 showing in Friday's 112-111 loss at Charlotte made for a good wager. Though his perimeter shot remained wonky for a second consecutive game (2 of 10 at Minnesota and 3 of 16 in the two games), Beal showed why he's in the All-NBA discussion with his fourth-quarter flourish.
While there are no moral victories in the NBA, it remains notable the fight Washington continues to show over the last two months with Beal's drive steering the effort.
Overall Beal shot 13 of 25 from the field.
4. As the rebounding battle goes, so goes the Wizards.
That proved true once again in as Washington fell to 8-27 on the road. Minnesota finished with a 56-50 advantage on the glass overall and 19-10 on the offensive glass. Taj Gibson had 15 points and 13 rebounds. His putback with 68 seconds remaining gave the Timberwolves a 129-125 lead.
Portis had 15 points in the first quarter.
5. Whatever Dramamine is left over from reading those Ariza shooting stats should be used when watching Jabari Parker.
Let's start with the good. Parker's scoring traits pop and not just because he hit 6 of 9 from the field for 15 points including 12 in the first half. Parker sank 3 of 5 from beyond the arc and grabbed eight rebounds. There are no doubts he can get numbers in the league.
Unfortunately, some of those stats Saturday involved turnovers. He had five at Minnesota. It's not just the number – he is averaging 3.7 over the last seven games – but the decision-making behind the miscues. His ball handling and passing remain erratic.
If the Wizards are looking for points when assembling a team this summer, re-signing Parker after declining his $20 million team option could happen. If the focus involves building a steady group, maybe not.
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