Bertans shoots unconsciously, Wizards win third straight
The Washington Wizards have won three games in a row. That’s now the first time the Wizards have won three straight since 2018. The Wizards finally no longer hold the longest drought for a three-game winning streak in the NBA. In a shortened season, The Wizards picked up a much needed win over a solid Nuggets team.
Washington got off to a slow start in the first and looked helpless on defense. Not much of a surprise here as the Wizards have struggled defensively this entire season so far. Nuggets center Nikola Jokic was off to a hot start and so were the Nuggets as they took a commanding 41-24 lead into the end of the first. It was only thanks to a Deni Avdija buzzer-beater from well beyond the arc that left the Wizards only down 17 opposed to 20.
To start the second quarter, Davis Bertans checked into the game. Bertans, who signed a 5-year 80 million dollar contract this offseason, was off to a career slow start shooting from beyond the arc. Bertans told reporters he was having “sleepless nights” thinking about the way he had been playing. However, Bertans can now sleep with greater ease after providing the Wizards with a much needed spark to get back into this game. Bertans knocked down his first two shots off the bench: Both being three pointers as the Wizards were slowly crawling back from their deficit. Bertans second quarter was exactly what the Wizards were expecting him to be when they re-signed him as he finished the half 5-5 all from three. “When those shots went down, they started looking for me even more, running more plays for me, and I took advantage of that,” Bertans said. “My shots are falling, and sometimes there’s not much the defense can do.” The Wizards took a 70-64 advantage into half after Alex Len beat the buzzer with a dunk off a crazy inbound pass from Westbrook.
Early in the second half, newly named All-Star game starter Bradley Beal started to heat up. Beal picked up two quick and ones as the Wizards were still holding a slight lead at this point. Jokic and the nuggets would not go out easy however, knocking down tough shots and keeping themselves just behind Washington. The Nuggets were hanging tough making it a five-point game heading into the final quarter. Bertans was 6 for 6 to this point having made all three pointers.
Westbrook gave the Wizards some breathing room knocking down two shots to start the fourth quarter. Westbrook finished with his seventh triple double already this season which ties Wizards franchise history for triple doubles by a player all time. Never the less, Bertans was keeping the Wizards in the lead with his remarkable night shooting. Bertans hit an astonishing career-high nine three pointer on 11 attempts. The Wizards led by 12 with five minutes to go in regulation.
The nuggets just simply wouldn’t go away and were quickly coming back into the game. Jamal Murray knocked down two three pointers off of Wizards turnovers and suddenly it was now a one-point game. Thankfully for Washington, their leader Beal was coming through for them down the stretch. Beal knocked down a tough running hook with 1:30 left to give Washington a three point lead. With it only being a one possession game, the Nuggets made the Wizards pay after Beal was stripped on his drive to the basket. Murray quickly pushed down the court and stepped back for a three pointer which he drilled to tie the game with 32 seconds left. With 30 seconds left in a tie game, the Wizards turned to the hot hand in Bertans to give them the lead. Bertans pulled up for a deep catch and shoot three and drew contact on the shot. Bertans was sent to line for three shots with 8.8 left in the game. Bertans remained clutch knocking down all three free throws. With five seconds left, Wizards coach Scott Brooks chose not to foul and hoped for a defensive stop to win the game. This proved costly for the Wizards when Jamal Murray hit a ridiculous game-tying three pointer nearly from the Wizards logo. The game was now tied at 128 with 2.2 seconds to go. Off the timeout, the Wizards turned to their number one guy in beal off the inbound. Beal drove and got fouled hard with 0.01 left to go! This sent Beal to the line now just needing one free throw to essentially be the game-winner for Washington. Beal knocked down both and no time was left for Denver. The Wizards won their third straight.
Denver coach Michael Malone was frustrated in his teams defense after the game. Malone told the media “Bertans killed us tonight,” Malone then went on to mention how Bertans is a guy who “is not supposed to get off 11 shots from deep.” Jokic also agreed about the team’s defense. “We were up 20,” Jokic said. “We can not have that many letups.” Bertans came through big for the Wizards and hopefully showed a sign of good things to come from their sharp-shooting sixth man. Beal finished with another nice night with 25 points and some big plays down the stretch. For the wizards, a tough road trip now lies ahead. If the Wizards can play the way they have been the past couple of nights, this team is on the verge of a major turn around. Washington travels to Portland to take on Lillard and the Trail Blazers Saturday Night. The season is short: The time to start winning is now.