NBA Wrap February 23rd
BEAL, WESTBROOK PUSH ROLLING WIZARDS OVER LAKERS IN OVERTIME
There have been glimpses of the devastating combination of Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook in full flight.
On this night, the two were unstoppable and suddenly are the rolling Wizards.
Beal scored 33 points dishing out 6 assists, while Westbrook had 32 points, 14 rebounds and 9 assists as the red-hot Washington Wizards won its fifth consecutive game defeating the Los Angeles Lakers 127-124 in overtime.
Washington have beaten the Boston Celtics, Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets and the Portland Trailblazers, now the Lakers during this current winning streak – teams who are expected to be in the playoffs except the Rockets.
LeBron again led the Lakers with 31 points, 9 rebounds and 13 assists, while Montrezl Harrell had a productive outing of the bench scoring 26 points, pulling down 9 rebounds for the purple and gold – now losers of four of five.
The frantic contest came down to two Lakers chances to tie the game and force a second overtime. James after securing the Westbrook missed free throw strode down the other end letting fly from the Staples Centre court sticker where it clanked into the side rim. Still the Lakers had another opportunity when a soaring Kuzma came in to secure the offensive rebound scurrying back to the corner letting go of a desperation three pointer only to land an air ball signalling the end to a manic sequence.
The Lakers after an highly contested opening frame began to build a sizeable behind the strong play of Harrell inside. The Wizards though as done during their winning streak did not concede trimming the deficit to 8 (53-45) on a Garrison Matthews three with 3:36 left in the opening half.
The purple and gold restored order in the third pushing the lead back out to 15 (75-60) with 6:29 left behind James’ triple. Washington fought back buckling down on the Lakers defensively going on a 20-11 run to end the quarter to only trail by six (86-80).
The momentum created from the midway through the third carried over to the fourth as a powerful Rui Hachimura dunk gave the Wizards its first lead since the opening stanza. When Westbrook converted a pair of free throws Washington had gone on a 24-11 run to lead by seven with 4:19 remaining.
The Champions came charging back as LeBron willed the team helped by three pivotal made triples from Kuzma, Caruso and Caldwell-Pope to tie the contest at 111. On the team’s final possession, LeBron drove hard to the hoop making the layup and was fouled.
With the golden moment to give the Lakers the lead, James missed the free throw. Beal missed on a step back triple as the game headed into the extra frame.
Washington are back at Staples Centre to take on the Los Angeles Clippers. Next for the Lakers are the League’s hottest team: the Utah Jazz.
In other results around the Association:
Coby White had 24 points, while All-Star Zach LaVine scored 14 of his 21 points in a decisive third quarter as the Chicago Bulls handed the Houston Rockets its eighth consecutive loss winning 120-100.
Second-year pro Duncan Robinson knocked down six triples scoring 22 points, while Kendrick Nunn had 20 points and 9 assists as the Miami Heat ended a long seven-game Western trip by powering past the Oklahoma City Thunder 108-94.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led OKC with 27 points and 5 assists, who were held to 17 final quarter points.
Tim Hardaway had his range going from deep hitting seven threes in a 29 point outing, while Luka Doncic finished with 21 points and 5 assists as the Dallas Mavericks were hardly challenged by the Memphis Grizzlies winning 102-92.
Ja Morant had a team-high 22 points and 9 assists for the Grizzlies.
Donovan Mitchell had 23 points and 8 assists as the Utah Jazz set a franchise record for most threes made with 28 pulling away from the Charlotte Hornets in the fourth quarter to win 132-110.
Aussie star Joe Ingles had 21 points, hitting seven threes – part of a Jazz second unit that combined for 66 points.
Devin Booker scored 34 points and the Phoenix Suns stamped out the Portland Trailblazers in a dominant third-term performance in a 132-100 rout.
Since a January 27 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder, Phoenix has won 12 of 14.
Blazers superstar Damian Lillard had 24 points and 7 assists.
By Juri Bilcich