• Neil Dalal

Wizards lose their identity in final exhibition against Lakers

The Washington Wizards went 0-3 in NBA bubble exhibition play, but that is not all that important. They faced off against the top three teams in the Western Conference and were competitive in each game. On Monday afternoon against the Los Angeles Lakers without LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kyle Kuzma, and Dwight Howard, the Wizards took a step back in their development with a poor defensive showing. Through 3 quarters, the Lakers put up 106 points and the Wizards could not overcome a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit.

This is a narrative that has haunted Washington in the past, but Scott Brooks does not think that is happening based on what he has seen in July since the team starting training camp in D.C. The outside world has only seen three exhibition games to know if that is true or not. As a self-proclaimed leader of this Wizards roster, Troy Brown Jr. took responsibility for the team not bringing the highest level of intensity.

"We had a quickness struggle tonight, we weren't ready to start the game," Brooks said. "We've been great for almost three weeks, but tonight we didn't get better. We got to be ready to compete every minute we're on the floor and I don't think we did that tonight."

There was one silver lining. An increasingly aggressive Rui Hachimura had a highlight play in the second quarter. Following up his missed shot with a strong offensive rebound battling JaVale McGee, knocking the 7-footer to the ground, Hachimura threw down a one-handed dunk that got his teammates off the bench. Early in his rookie season that now feels very long ago, both Bradley Beal and John Wall told Hachimura he couldn't finish with layups in the NBA, but to finish with dunks. The coaching staff and the rest of his teammates have continued to encourage the forward to be even more aggressive. Hachimura wants to apply that to rebounding, transition offense, and finishing around the rim since he has gotten stronger.

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