4 takeaways from the Washington Wizards’ loss to the Grizzlies

Washington Wizards Bradley Beal Ja Morant (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
Washington Wizards Bradley Beal Ja Morant (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Despite leading for the majority of the contest, the Washington Wizards fell flat in the 4th against the Memphis Grizzlies, losing 106-99.

With under a minute to play in regulation, the Washington Wizards were looking for one final surge to propel themselves to victory. Their hopes were shattered, however, after rookie sensation Ja Morant heaved a bomb from WAY downtown to ice the game for his Memphis Grizzlies.

In what was an ugly, slug it out type of game for both squads, Washington controlled the tempo for over three quarters of action, but couldn’t seal the deal and stifle a young Memphis team that shot an abysmal 15% from three-point territory.

Despite the loss, there were a few positives amongst the obvious negatives for this Washington Wizards team. Here are 4 takeaways from Sunday’s loss to the Grizzlies.

1. The Wizards’ bench does their part

Finishing with 51 points, the Washington Wizards’ bench imposed their will on the Grizzlies, especially in the first half. Davis Bertans hit 3 threes, newly acquired point guard Shabazz Napier contributed 6 assists, and Moritz Wagner put up a near double double, all off the bench.

Although it wasn’t enough to secure a victory, a solid contribution from the bench is a great sign for a Wizards team which is hovering right outside of playoff contention. Bradley Beal is good for at LEAST 25 a night, but if the Wizards want to sustain success in the long-term, a capable bench is a requirement.

As John Wall and Thomas Bryant continue to heal from their respective injuries, more bench players are receiving quality minutes on the floor, experience that will suit them well for when they come off the bench when the stars get back to full health.

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2. Rui Hachimura starts off hot, but cools off in the second half

In just the first 3 minutes of the first quarter, rookie Rui Hachimura had 6 of the Wizards’ first 8 points, and was attacking the basket aggressively. However, Hachimura’s hot start didn’t last long.

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Hachimura had just 6 more points the rest of the night, finishing with 12 points, 11 rebounds, and 1 assist in 25 minutes played. Despite the double double, the talented rookie Hachimura was basically a non-factor for the majority of the contest.

After starting off 4-for-6 from the field in the first half, Rui went 1-for-7 in the second, scoring only 2 points the rest of the night. If the Washington Wizards are to stay in contention with talented teams in the future, Rui is going to need to be that star the Wizards drafted him to be.

Yes, he’s coming off of a nasty groin injury and he’s only a rookie, but Wizards fans know Rui’s potential. He’s in the rising stars challenge for a reason.

Hachimura has shown glimpses of that superstar potential, but he needs to be consistent in both halves of the game in order to fully live up to the standards that the Wizards require of him.

3. Moritz Wagner showed why he’s a Rising Star

When the rosters for the NBA Rising Stars Challenge were released, some Wizards fans were somewhat surprised to see Mo Wagner’s name on the World list. Obviously, Wagner is a talented young player, but he just returned from a 25-game hiatus due to an ankle injury.

Well, on Sunday night, Wagner was a force to be reckoned with. In just 24 minutes played off the bench, Wagner finished with 19 points on 7-11 shooting, with 9 rebounds and 2 assists.

In a game filled with shooting struggles from both teams, Wagner was a constant. If anyone doubted Wagner’s credibility as a Rising Star this season, his performance on Sunday night proved them wrong.

As the season progresses, Wagner’s growth as a young talent off the bench will be something to watch for, as he has the potential to become a big difference maker on this young Wizards team.

4. Wizards struggle on the glass

Grizzlies center Jonas Valanciunas finished with 18 rebounds on the night. Need I say more? The Washington Wizards were thoroughly out-rebounded by the Grizzlies, who dominated both sides of the glass.

In total, three Grizzlies players finished with double-digit rebounds, in comparison to the Wizards’ one.

With center Thomas Bryant out, Washington relied mostly on their forwards underneath the basket to grab rebounds, and due to the depth and talent the Grizzlies have in their front court, this decision ultimately spelled doom for the Wizards.

Now, obviously, this poor performance on the glass isn’t totally representative of their entire season. However, this issue was clearly at the forefront of post game talk, and will continue to be something to keep an eye on as the season moves forward.

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