Recap: Wizards score 63 bench points, beat Sixers 117-98 in Beal's return

FINAL: WIZARDS 117 | SIXERS 98

BOX SCORE | PHOTOS | HIGHLIGHTS

With Bradley Beal back in the lineup and another double-double from Kyle Kuzma, the Wizards defeated the Sixers 117-98 on Monday afternoon at Capital One Arena. In beating a Philadelphia team that had won nine of its last 10 games, Washington is now on a run of its own, winning four of its last five dating back to January 9.

Kuzma finished the day with 15 points and 16 rebounds, his 10th double-double in the last 13 games and his fourth game this season with at least 15 rebounds.

“This was one of our better wins of the season,” Kuzma said postgame. “It felt great…Any time you can play a game and get everybody in – reserves, everybody that works hard every single day that you may not know…that’s a great sign.”

Shortly before tip, the team announced that Beal, who had missed the last three games due the NBA’s health and safety protocols, would make his return to the lineup. It marked the first time all season Washington played without a single player on the injury report. Beal made an instant impact, starting the day 3-4 (.750) from the field and scoring seven of the team’s first 15 points and finished with 13 points, five rebounds, six assists and was plus-20 in 33 minutes.

Washington relied heavily on its bolstered depth, outscoring the Sixers 63-27 in bench points. Montrezl Harrell (18 points, seven rebounds), Thomas Bryant (15 points, five rebounds), Corey Kispert (11 points) and Rui Hachimura (11 points) led the way for the reserves. Harrell has now shot over 60.0% from the field in each of the last four games.

While Beal’s presence – and the recent returns of Bryant and Hachimura – provided some sense of normalcy to the rotation, the team’s shorthandedness on the sideline continued. With Wes Unseld Jr. already in health and safety protocols, Pat Delany, who served as acting head coach during the Wizards’ game on Saturday night, entered protocols on Monday morning. Joseph Blair, who won a G League title as head coach of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in 2019 and spent the previous two seasons as an assistant coach with the Sixers and Timberwolves, became the third coach to lead the team in the last three games.

An 11-2 Wizards run to start the game was sparked by an alley-oop from Kuzma to Daniel Gafford on Washington’s first offensive possession of the game – opening one of the team’s best offensive quarters of the season. The Wizards shot 15-24 (.625) from the field and 3-6 (.500) from 3-point range on their way to 38 first-quarter points. Washington was steady in the second quarter, using a quick run mid-way through the frame to take its first double-digit lead of the night. The highlight of the night came with 4:31 left in the first half when Kuzma drove and finished a one-hand dunk over Joel Embiid.

Embiid’s failed attempt at a block on Kuzma was an outlier amidst an otherwise dominant performance. He finished with a game-high 32 points on 10-20 (.500) overall and 3-4 (.750) from beyond the arc – and challenged the Washington frontcourt all night. Gafford picked up three fouls in the first 5:29 of the game and his fourth in the first minute of the second half. Embiid scored his 30th point of the night with 2:35 left in the third quarter on a trailing 3-pointer in transition. At that point, no other Sixers player had more than eight points.

After the Sixers cut the lead to seven points late in the third quarter, Kispert knocked down his second triple of the night to put the Wizards back up 10. The Wizards, playing most of the fourth quarter in the bonus, managed to keep the Sixers at a distance for the remainder of the game. A beautiful display of passing from Beal to Kuzma to Harrell for an and-one dunk that put Washington up by 17 with just over five minutes left in the game – a lead that grew to as many as 25 in the closing minutes.

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