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Bertans, Hachimura and Wagner represent Wizards at All-Star Weekend
As the NBA’s best gathered for All-Star Weekend in Chicago, Davis Bertans, Rui Hachimura and Mortiz Wagner were on hand to represent the Wizards. Bertans participated in the 3-Point Contest on All-Star Saturday Night while Hachimura and Wagner took part in Friday night’s Rising Stars Challenge.
Bertans, who has developed into one of the league’s most dangerous long-range shooters, put on a show Saturday night. The “Latvian Laser” was one of three shooters to advance to the second and final round after a 26-point first round that ended with Bertans hitting 10-of-11 shots, including the newly added MTN DEW Zone bonus ball plus his entire money ball rack. Bertans totaled 22 points in the final round to take home third place as Sacramento’s Buddy Hield went on to capture the win.
“It was fun being a part of it,” Bertans said. “I think every single guy wanted to win, but only one guy can. At least I got in the finals instead of dropping out in the first round. The All-Star experience ends in one minute, and it was fun. I enjoyed it and it was definitely an experience for the next time I’m here.”
LATVIAN LASER— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) February 16, 2020
Friday night, Hachimura and Wagner combined to score 30 points for Team World in the Rising Stars Challenge, which featured a collection of the league’s best first- and second-year players. Team World came up short, falling 151-131 to Team USA.
Hachimura started and scored on four dunks in the first quarter, helping Team World jump out to an early lead. He went on to finish with 14 points. Wagner scored 16 points, most of which came in the second half.
“I’m not going to lie, I’m a little upset that I lost,” Wagner said with a laugh after the game. “It’s weird, you have competitive spirit and go hard and then all of a sudden you give up an easy lay-up but with this type of game, you have to give it up and you have to be satisfied with it. It’s weird, but it’s fun.”
Hachimura shared that same sentiment: “I don’t like to lose.”
It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that Hachimura and Wagner got to share the court together – and the duo made the most of it. With just under nine minutes to go in the game, the Wizards’ bigs each scored on put-back dunks on consecutive possessions.
While both expressed with smiles their dissatisfaction with losing, each recognized the true spirit of the weekend: putting on a show for their fans, connecting with fellow players around the league, representing the Wizards and, as international players, representing for their home countries.
“It was fun to play with those guys,” Hachimura said. “Especially Moe [Wagner] and my college teammate (Brandon Clarke).”
“There aren’t a lot of Germans in this league and to be a part of this wave of young players and to be able to be here is special, Wagner said. “I’m very happy. It’s cool to experience.”
“What I’ve really realized these last two days is that (the NBA is) really a fraternity…it’s just awesome,” Wagner said. “To learn from the Raptors coaches, to see what they do, to see how they approach stuff, the terminology, how they do shootaround and all that and to see what the other players do – it’s truly a privilege to experience that.”
Bertans, who said he would “definitely” participate in the 3-Point Contest again in the future, said before the competition that the true highlight was getting to spend time with his family and watching his daughter “having a blast” throughout the weekend. Bertans even brought her along during his warm-up session:
Bertans, Hachimura and Wagner – and the rest of the Wizards roster – now get a chance for some rest. Washington begins its second half of the season Friday, February 21 against the Cavaliers (14-40) at 7:00 P.M. at Capital One Arena.