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Recap: Wizards close first half with dramatic 119-117 win over Clippers
FINAL: Wizards 119 | Clippers 117
Wizards: Bradley Beal (33), Russell Westbrook (27), Moe Wagner (12)
Clippers: Kawhi Leonard (22), Patrick Beverley (17), Lou Williams (16)
The Wizards defeated the Clippers 119-117 in dramatic fashion on Thursday night at Capital One Arena in the teams’ first half finale. Bradley Beal scored a game-high 33 points while Russell Westbrook totaled 27 points, nine rebounds and 11 assists. Kawhi Leonard led the way for L.A., scoring 22 points. Clippers All-Star wing Paul George was ruled out just before the game due to dizziness. With the win, Washington snaps a two-game losing streak and splits the season series with Los Angeles.
The back-and-forth affair came down to the final seconds. After Leonard knocked down a 3-pointer to cut the lead to one with 15 seconds left on the clock, the teams traded free throws on the ensuing three possessions. With seven seconds in the game, after making the first of two free throws to put the Wizards up two, Rui Hachimura missed the second, but Westbrook shot in from the baseline to deflect the ball toward Beal to seal the win the for the Wizards.
“Russ has a knack for doing the out-of-nowhere plays,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said postgame. “He was on the left side above the 3-point line, it looks like he knew that the ball was going to be off and he raced in there and went underneath the entire defense in a split second and got all the way to the ball, was able to deflect it, and then Brad was able to gobble it up and prevent (Los Angeles) from having a chance. Those are the plays that only a handful of guys in the league (can make).”
Leonard scored the first points of the game for the Clippers and helped the team jump out to an early seven-point lead, but picked up his second foul less than five minutes into the game and sat for the remainder of the quarter. With Leonard on the bench, Washington went on a 13-2 run to take a four-point lead of their own. Washington led 25-22 after a first quarter in which both offenses struggled from the field. Westbrook scored his 10th point of the night on a jumper in the second quarter, surpassing Bullets legend Walt Bellamy for 42nd place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
After attempting 10 3-pointers in the first quarter, Washington took just two in the second, missing both, but shot 12-24 (.500) from the field. Beal scored 11 of his 17 first half points in the second quarter and helped lead a 9-0 Wizards run to close the first half that cut L.A.’s lead from 16 to seven.
Washington kept up the momentum to start the second half, taking a 64-63 lead three minutes into the third quarter on a driving layup by Beal and extended the lead to five points just a few minutes later. In the final seconds of the third quarter, Westbrook found Davis Bertans cutting along the baseline for an alley-oop dunk to tie the game at 87 heading into the fourth quarter. Neither team managed much of an advantage until the final minutes of the game. With the Wizards down one with just under four minutes to go, Westbrook assisted on three consecutive Wizards baskets, sparking an 11-2 run that thrust Washington into control of the game. Leonard and Nicolas Batum, however, each hit 3-pointers in the final 41 seconds of the game, forcing the Wizards have to knock down a series of key free throws to seal the win.
THREE THINGS TO KNOW
Wizards ride game-changing 28-7 run in second and third quarters
The Wizards changed the complexion of the entire game with a 28-7 run between the second and third quarters, turning a 16-point deficit late in the second quarter to a five-point lead mid-way through the third. Down 61-45 with 1:18 left in the first half, Beal knocked down a pair of free throws to get the run started. Wagner scored on an and-one hook shot in the final minute of the second quarter and knocked down the ensuing free throw. After scoring a season-high 21 points against the Clippers last week, Wagner didn’t match those same totals, but finished with a plus-26 rating in just 19 minutes of action. Beal scored 11 of the Wizards’ 28 points in the run, including a cutting layup in the final second of the first half. Westbrook knocked down a difficult pull-up bank shot to cap the run, giving Washington a 73-68 lead. In that time, the Wizards shot 7-10 (.700) from the field and held the Clippers to 2-13 (.150) shooting as a team.
Turnovers key to Wizards’ win
After committing a season-high 22 turnovers against the Grizzlies on Tuesday, Washington turned the ball over just nine times against the Clippers. Westbrook and Beal, who combined for 14 of Washington’s turnovers against the Grizzlies, combined for just two on Thursday night. On the other end, the Wizards’ defense forced 19 turnovers, the fifth-most by a Washington opponent this season. Leonard and Lou Williams each committed four while Batum and Patrick Beverley each committed three. The Wizards turned those 19 turnovers into 27 points.
Clippers lean on bench with George unavailable
With George out of the lineup and Leonard in early foul trouble, the Clippers had to turn elsewhere for early offense. Reggie Jackson, coming off a season-high 25 points against Boston on Tuesday, started the night 3-3 (1.000) from the field and scored seven points in the first. Leonard returned to the court and took back over in the second, scoring 12 points on 5-6 (.833) from the field and 1-2 (.500) from 3-point range to help the Clippers’ lead reach 16. As the game wore on, Los Angeles relied more on its bench, which entered the game ranked fourth in the league in scoring, averaging 39.9 points per game. The Clippers’ reserves combined for 57 points on 18-36 (.500) from the field.
NEXT UP: Wizards at Grizzlies / Wednesday, March 10 / 8:00 P.M. / FedEx Forum
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT