Heading into the break on a high note: Wizards Defeat Clippers in dramatic fashion
Washington- The Wizards played their final game before the All-Star Break against the Los Angeles Clippers. Coming off two straight losses, Washington was in a must-win-like scenario to get some confidence heading into the break. Washington previously lost to Los Angeles last week when their five-game win streak was snapped. The Wizards looked for revenge in a big way.
To start off the night, Los Angeles got off to a hot start in the first few minutes but was quickly cooled down. Washington started off slow, but that has been a common theme for this Wizards team. Kawhi Leonard picked up an early two fouls and only played four minutes in the first. Washington took advantage as they generated LA turnovers into points in transition. Washington took a three-point advantage after one.
Raul Neto continued his solid defensive play coming up with two fouls in the first half. Washington this season has proven to be dangerous in transition scoring the basketball. Los Angeles in the second got their act together. Once Leonard checked back in, he caught fire from the field. Leonard knocked down his first five shot attempts and provided his usual lock down defense. Los Angeles used a 8-0 run to regain the lead which they never gave up the rest of the half. Los Angeles led by as many as 13 before Washington cut into the lead before half. Washington trailed by seven at the break.
Beal and the Wizards put themselves in position to come back in this game. Beal had 17 points in the first half on 6/14 shooting. Westbrook added 12 and a few asissts. Washington’s bench was quiet in the first half however.
At the beginning of the second half, Rui Hachimura came out of the break on a mission. A quick 7-0 run by Rui himself put the Wizards only down by three early into the third. Washington had picked up their team defense and the Clippers looked flustered. Washington had taken the lead following four straight stops by the defense. The individual defense by guards like Beal and Westbrook looked phenomenal.
Los Angeles in the third was flat out silent offensively. LA had only 6 points in the half through the first seven minutes of the quarter. Washington was starting to take advantage building a small lead. However, Lou Williams began to pick it up for the Clippers as they evened up the score just moments after the Wizards went up six.
Los Angeles greatly struggled from three in the third, shooting only 2/10 from beyond the arc. Washington was also getting free points from multiple defensive three-second violation calls on the Clippers. The Clippers pushed back ahead by five late in the third. Two straight threes’ for the Wizards quickly ended that for LA. Bertans finished an unbelievable alley-oop score at the buzzer to send the game to the final quarter all tied up at 87.
Both teams got off to a fast start in the fourth. With Kawhi on the bench with four fouls, Washington looked to force the issue on the Clippers. Bertans took a shot to the face on a block attempt and left for the locker room quickly. Washington now was missing their sharp shooting small forward in a close contest.
With Beal resting, Los Angeles was able to gain a small advantage as the Wizards offense struggled to generate open shots. Clippers reserve Terrance Mann once again was terrorizing the Wizards on both ends of the floor. Mann knocked down a three to give the Clips a 4 point lead with 8 minutes to go.
As the game got into the final stretch, neither team could breakout and sustain a lead. Patrick Beverley hit two straight three pointers but Westbrook answered both times with scores to keep the game tied up. Westbrook however struggled from the line tonight. A lot of points were left at the line by the Wizards guard.
Bertans came back into the game and helped out in a big way. With 4 minutes to go, Bertans knocked down a trey to cut the Clippers lead to one. Moments later, Mo Wagner hit a corner three to give the Wizards the lead. Beal then knocked down a jumper to extend the Wiz lead to four. Washington used an 10-0 run to give the Wizards a six point lead with 1:36 to go.
As the Wizards attempted to close out the game, Leonard was called for an offensive foul after his elbow collided with Beal’s face. The foul provided a much needed stop for the Wizards defense. The Clippers offensive fell apart in the end, and were held without a field goal since there were over four minutes left in the game. It wasn’t until 40 second remaining when Nicholas Batum ended the drought.
While holding a six point lead, Beal was called for a foul on Batum’s three point shot, rewarding him three free-throws. Mistakes like these can’t become habit for Wizards trying to close out games. The Clippers to chose to continue to foul Westbrook due to his struggles at the line. Westbrook made one of two, but Leonard quickly answered with a three to make it a one point game with 14.8 left. Beal knocked down two big foul shots to give them another three point lead with 10 ticks to go.
Westbrook’s 7/15 from the line left the Wizards in a situation they should not have been in late in the game. On the ensuing play, Bertans gave a foul going for a steal and was nearly called a flagrant foul. That would have been a gut punch for the Wizards. Hachimura, with a one-point lead, was sent to the line. Rui missed the second, but Westbrook came up with an offensive rebound that ran the clock out and gave the Wizards a wild 119-117 win.
Washington got their revenge over the Clippers in a dramatic fashion. Westbrook even with his struggles at the line was still a major reason for the win tonight. Westbrook notched his 11th triple-double of the season with that game-winning offensive rebound. NBA leading scorer Beal added 33 for the Wizards. This game was one of the defensive effort from the Wizards. Good team defense leads to Wizards wins. It’s as simple as that.
Washington now heads into the break with a much needed confidence booster over a strong western conference team in the Clippers. Hopefully the Wizards will use this rest to their advantage and continue their winning ways when they return. The east is wide open, the Wizards must take advantage.