The Washington Wizards came into Sunday 3-12 on the season, battling myriad issues on and off the court, and with the Brooklyn Nets in town, even without James Harden, it seemed unlikely a reprieve was on the way.
However, despite falling behind by as many as 18 in the first quarter, Washington battled their way back into the game and their energy was able to bring Bradley Beal out of his first half funk, as the NBA’s leading scorer put up 37 in what was the most stunning win of the season in the NBA. While Beal erupted in the fourth, it was Russell Westbrook who led the way for Washington, as he always enjoys squaring off with Kevin Durant and went off for a season-high 41 points, along with 10 rebounds, and eight assists.
Those two played a pivotal role in the most improbable sequence any game has seen this season, as the final 10 seconds were truly outrageous. Beal got things started with a deep pull-up three with the Wizards down 5 and 7.6 seconds to play. Then, on the inbounds pass, Garrison Mathews got a steal, stayed inbounds, and found Russell Westbrook who hit a rare three-pointer to take a 147-146 lead.
BEAL AND WESTBROOK.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) February 1, 2021
From there, the Nets had their own chance to get a game-winner of their own, and after Westbrook tipped the initial inbounds play out on the baseline, Brooklyn was able to get Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot wide open at the basket for a layup that, somehow, didn’t go down.
THE ENDING OF NETS-WIZARDS WAS WILD. pic.twitter.com/yL6jVRLIfw
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 1, 2021
Beal would hit a pair of free throws to give Washington a 149-146 lead and, with no timeouts, Brooklyn’s only hope was a Kevin Durant heave at the buzzer that went begging.
It was a truly astounding game, as Westbrook and Beal combined for 78 points, despite Beal being completely disinterested for much of the first half. The Nets had four players score 23 or more in the game, led by 37 points from Kevin Durant and 30 from Joe Harris, but as has been the case often for Brooklyn, they simply couldn’t play enough defense to run away with what should’ve been a rather easy victory.
Full credit to the Wizards who played incredibly hard, at least on offense, all night, led by Westbrook’s energy which got Beal involved and saw some solid contributions from much of the rest of the roster. The 149-146 final isn’t even the highest Wizards score in the last two seasons, as the Rockets beat them 159-158 in October 2019, but is representative of exactly where these two teams are at. It’s a big win for Washington that can hopefully give them a much-needed morale boost, while Brooklyn will be devastated to give that game away and has real questions on the defensive end of the floor.