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Recap: Westbrook's historic night leads Wizards to 154-141 win over Pacers
FINAL: Wizards 154 | Pacers 141
Wizards: Rui Hachimura (27), Bradley Beal (26), Daniel Gafford (15)
Pacers: Caris LeVert (33), Domantas Sabonis (32), three players (15)
In a matchup with significant playoff implications, the Wizards won 154-141 against the Pacers on Monday night at Capital One Arena. The 154-point performance was the fifth-highest scoring performance in team history and moved Washington within 0.5 games of Indiana for ninth in the Eastern Conference. Russell Westbrook became the first player in NBA history with multiple games with 20-plus rebounds and 20-plus assists, totaling 14 points, 21 boards and 14 assists. Rui Hachimura scored 27 points to lead the Wizards. Washington and Indiana will meet again on Saturday, May 8 to conclude the season series.
After falling behind by five less than two minutes into the game, the Wizards went on a 16-4 run to take a seven-point lead. Bradley Beal, who finished with 26 points, and Alex Len did most of the scoring in a fast-paced first quarter, combining for 18 points on 7-9 (.777) shooting. Washington led 36-31 after one, scoring 22 of their 36 points in the paint. The fast pace continued into the second quarter. The Wizards led by as many as eight points in the opening minutes of the second quarter, but a quick run capped by an Edmond Sumner three pulled the Pacers within two. From that point, neither team managed much separation until a 14-2 run put Washington up 76-60 with just over two minutes left in the first half. The Wizards’ backcourt was the driving force behind the run. Beal scored on a pull-up 3-pointer to put Washington up nine and caught a three-quarter-court pass from Westbrook for an alley-oop layup on the following possession. Raul Neto then went on to score or assist on nine of the Wizards’ next 11 points to help the team take an 82-66 lead into halftime.
The Wizards continued to pour on the offense coming out of halftime, putting up another 40-point quarter, their second of the night. Nine different Wizards scored in the third, led by eight points from Hachimura and seven from Ish Smith. While Washington’s defense struggled to get stops all night, they made enough plays to keep Indiana at bay for the entire second half, highlighted Westbrook blocking Doug McDermott at the rim and corralling his own rebound mid-way through the third quarter. The Wizards led by as many as 23 in the third quarter and never fewer than 12 in the second half overall.
THREE THINGS TO KNOW
Wizards break season, all-time records in high-scoring affair
From the opening tip, the Wizards and Pacers, who each entered the game ranking top-five in pace, were flying up and down the court. According the NBA.com, it was the fastest-paced game in the NBA since October 2017. As both teams dialed up the offensive aggression, records began to fall. Washington set season highs in points (154), field goals made (63), field goal percentage (61.2), points in the paint (96) and fast break points (30). What stood above all, however, was the Wizards’ passing. Washington recorded 50 assists, setting a new franchise record and blowing by its previous record of 45. The Wizards are the first team since 1990 and the 10th team ever to register 50 assists in a game.
Westbrook’s historic night moves him within three of triple-double record
Westbrook’s 14-point, 21-rebound and 24-assist performance on Monday night was just the third in league history with at least 20 rebounds and 20 assists in the same game. The only prior two instances: Westbrook in 2019 and Wilt Chamberlain in 1968. His 24 assists tie both the Wizards’ franchise record and his own career high. He entered the night leading the NBA in total assists (627) and assists per game (11.0).
Westbrook’s triple-double was his 32nd of the season and 178th of his career, putting him three away from tying Oscar Robertson for the most in NBA history with seven games left in the regular season. He’s now recorded triple-doubles in 18 of his last 22 games and double-doubles in 29 straight, the longest active streak in the NBA and the longest such streak of his career.
The fast-paced nature of the game was perfectly suited for Westbrook, who entered the game with the fastest individual pace rating among qualifying players this season (106.96). Westbrook set the tone for the Wizards from the opening tip, most noticeably on a sequence in the first minute of the game in which grabbed three offensive rebounds and eventually set up a Len dunk. By halftime, he’d already totaled eight points, 12 rebounds and 14 assists – and sealed the triple-double with a layup just 1:37 into the third quarter.
After totaling 35 points, 14 rebounds and 21 assists in the Wizards’ meeting with the Pacers on March, Westbrook is now averaging 24.5 points, 17.5 rebounds and 22.5 assists against Indiana this season.
Balanced effort from the Wizards’ bigs
After the Wizards’ loss to the Mavericks on Saturday night, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said that while the team has leaned heavily on a three-center rotation for most of the season, nothing regarding the frontcourt rotation was set in stone. Minutes would have to be earned and would continue to vary based on performance.
Monday night, against a Pacers team that went small with starting center Myles Turner out of the lineup, all three Wizards centers took advantage of their time, each playing between 15-17 minutes. Alex Len, who started, but played only five minutes in Washington loss in Dallas, bounced back strong in the early going against Indiana. Len played the first 4:33 of the game, scoring nine of the Wizards’ first 13 points. Gafford made all seven of his field goals, finished third on the team in scoring with 15 points and registered his sixth three-block game since joining the Wizards. Lopez put forth an efficient performance, scoring 11 points in 15:45. The center trio combined for 38 points on 16-18 (.888) shooting.
NEXT UP: Wizards at Bucks / Wednesday, May 5 / 8:00 P.M. / Fiserv Forum
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT