Going into Thursday night’s game against the Utah Jazz, Bradley Beal was the holder of an NBA record, albeit a very undesirable one. Beal had suffered through 11 straight losses in games where he scored over 40 points, the longest such streak in NBA history. The previous record holder was actually former Wizard Walt Bellamy, who had 9 straight losses in 40 point games. He held the record for 49 years, so it could be a long time before someone else breaks it again.
Luckily for Beal, his fate took a turn for the better. The Wizards cruised to a 131-122 win against the Utah Jazz, the team with the current best record in the NBA, and Beal had a cool 32 points on just 24 shots. While winning by nine points usually doesn’t leave many doubts about who played better, the Jazz were able to close a gap that was much wider earlier in the game. The Wizards were up by 18 points at the conclusion of the first half. Perhaps even more strangely, Beal had just 13 points in the first half before lighting it up with 30 points in the second half.
What a half.
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) March 19, 2021
Russell Westbrook had his 13th triple-double for the Wizards this season and inched his way closer to Darrell Walker’s all-time record of 15 triple-doubles in a Wizards uniform. It took Walker 283 games, while Westbrook has played just 33 games in Washington. There is little doubt that Westbrook will surpass Walker before the season is over.
While Westbrook was up to his usual stat-stuffing, notching 35 points, 13 assists and 15 rebounds on 12-23 shooting, he was also getting into it with the competition.. It all started when Jazz All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell picked up Westbrook full-court to start the game. Then, it appeared as though Mitchell was trash talking him, a decision he very shortly came to regret. Westbrook proceeded to go on an absolute tear, scoring 11 points in the first six-and-a-half minutes of the game.
It appeared Donovan Mitchell started talking trash to Russell Westbrook on the Wizards' first or second possession. Russ opened the game with 11p-4r-2a in 6:34 minutes of action.
— Zach Rosen (@ZacharySRosen) March 18, 2021
Westbrook had another huge night against an elite team the Wizards were not expected to beat, similar to their second matchup against the Brooklyn Nets earlier season. He even added a dunk on former DPOY Rudy Gobert for good measure. For reference, Gobert is 7’1 with a 7’9 wingspan and is currently averaging 2.9 blocks per game. It harkens back to a comment that Westbrook made last year when a reporter asked him about the challenge of being defended by Gobert.
Russell Westbrook just had a big dunk with Rudy Gobert going for the block. If you recall, Russ said this last year after dunking on Gobert… https://t.co/03ih7wgkxK
— Chase Hughes (@ChaseHughesNBCS) March 18, 2021
While big games from the team’s two stars gave Wizards’ fans a lot to celebrate, power forward Davis Bertans had to leave the game late in the first quarter and did not return. The injury report lists it as ‘right calf tightness’ and it is not clear if he will be able to play on Sunday against the Brooklyn Nets. Bertans has struggled to stay healthy this season and has not played as well as expected when he has been on the court. Hopefully, the team’s medical staff can get him straightened out and back into form sooner rather than later, the Wizards desperately need his shooting to help them make a playoff push in the back half of the season.
Overall, this was an incredible game for the Wizards and hopefully can be the catalyst for a win streak in the near future. They have proven time and time again that they are capable of beating elite teams when firing on all cylinders and clearly have the talent to be a playoff team. Maybe this win will finally provide head coach Scott Brooks with the insight he needs to right the ship. Here’s to hoping this game is a good omen for things to come.
All stats courtesy of Pro Basketball Reference and ESPN