Washington Wizards v Denver Nuggets
Orlando, FL - JULY 22: Rui Hachimura #8 of the Washington Wizards shoots the ball against the Denver Nuggets during a scrimmage on July 22, 2020 at HP Field House at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida.
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Wizards drop first scrimmage, 89-82, to Nuggets as Hachimura scores 18

FINAL: Wizards 82 | Nuggets 89

BOX SCORE | HIGHLIGHTS

SCORING LEADERS

Washington: Rui Hachimura (18), Troy Brown Jr. (12), Ish Smith (10)

Denver: Troy Daniels (22), Bol Bol (16), Nikola Jokic (16)

SUMMARY

In their first game action since March 10, the Wizards were defeated by the Nuggets, 89-82, on Wednesday at HP Field House in Orlando. The matchup, which was played with 10-minute quarters, marked the first of three scrimmages for each team leading up to their eight seeding games on the Disney campus.

After trailing by as many as 13 points mid-way through the second quarter, Washington went on a 15-5 run just before halftime. The Wizards then held within single digits for the entirety of the third quarter before tying the game at 68 with 7:40 left in the game. Down again, this time by eight with just over four minutes left, the Wizards went on a 9-1 in less than two minutes, led by five points from Troy Brown Jr. A pair of Troy Daniels threes in the final 2:09, however, put the Nuggets ahead again – this time for good. The Wizards were outrebounded, 47-37, but passed the ball well as a team, recording 22 assists on 31 made baskets.

THREE THINGS TO KNOW

Rui leads the way for Washington

With the Wizards shorthanded, Rui Hachimura went into the league’s restart knowing he would be shouldering more of a load for the team on both ends of the court. On Wednesday, Hachimura stepped into that larger role for the first time, leading the team in minutes (26), points (18), rebounds (9), field goal attempts (14) and free throw attempts (6). The rookie started early, scoring the first points of the game on a pull-up jumper just 16 seconds in. Hachimura saw most of his action in the first and third quarters, playing 16 of his 26 minutes and scoring 15 of his 18 points in that time, and hitting his lone 3-pointer with just under seven minutes left in the third quarter.

Breaking down the Wizards’ shot distribution

With no Bradley Beal or Davis Bertans in Orlando, one of the biggest questions Washington will face over the next month is who will replace the shots taken by their top two scorers. Against the Nuggets, Hachimura (14), Troy Brown Jr. (13) and Jerome Robinson (11) led Wizards in field goal attempts. Hachimura, as noted above, played well, hitting 6-14 (.429) from the field, 1-2 (.50.0) from deep and 5-6 (.833) from the free throw line. Brown Jr., who also recorded six rebounds and five assists on the night, was 4-6 (.667) from inside the arc, including a pair of dunks and a difficult driving floater, but made just 1-7 (.143) from 3-point range. Robinson scored seven points on 3-11 (.273) from the field in 20 minutes off the bench. Overall, Washington’s shot distribution was well-balanced. Of the 12 players that saw action, 11 attempted at least four field goals.

First look at the new arena atmosphere

Wednesday’s scrimmages – for the Wizards and across the league – marked the debut of the NBA’s new-look in-arena layout. With no fans in attendance, the atmosphere had to come from somewhere. Massive screens and a DJ, both of which were tailored to create a subtle home-court look and feel for the one team (on Wednesday, it was Denver), were easy to notice. The court featured a simple, clean design with an NBA logo at center court and “BLACK LIVES MATTER” on the playing surface just below the scorers table. The NBC Sports Washington broadcast, called remotely from Washington, D.C. by Justin Kutcher, Glenn Consor and Chris Miller, was seamless and matched the flow of the game. Though impossible to the replicate the energy of 18,000 screaming fans, the NBA managed to create an environment that was visually appealing but didn’t get in the way of the actual basketball being played.

IN QUOTES

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks

“I thought we played extremely hard. I thought we played together. I thought the ball was moving. Defensively, we were battling. They had a couple of funky lineups out there with all their bigs because a lot of their guys are not here. The thing we didn’t do, we didn’t make shots. I thought we had a lot of great looks and we had a chance to take the lead quite a few times down the stretch when we made that little run and we missed a couple open threes, but overall, I’m very pleased with out energy and our effort and our teamwork. It was just great to be out here playing basketball again. It’s great to be playing against another team also.”

“I thought (Rui) was good. He was obviously aggressive, but he got good shots. He gets to his spots. I love this about his game. He gets to his spots and he gets on balance and he takes the shot. Those are very high percentage shots. He needs to keep doing that. There are going to be games where he doesn’t have the high-end shots. I like the way he played tonight…He just has a good feel for the game for being a young player in the league.”

HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT

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