Bradley Beal scores 41 but Russell Westbrook (46) and Thunder have final answer
Oklahoma Cityâs Russell Westbrook celebrates a dunk over Washingtonâs Marcin Gortat during the Thunderâs 121-112 win over the Wizards on Thursday night. (Sue Ogrocki/AP) January 25 at 11:05 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY â" Bradley Beal scored with skill â" and worked harder than any rebounder in a white jersey. He reached a very specific milestone in NBA history and played like someone worthy of being singled out by LeBron James for an all-star pick-up game.
And yet on Thursday night, Beal could only mumble his emotions following a familiar result.
âIâm pissed,â Beal said after the Washington Wizards fell, 121-112, to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
B efore the game, the league announced the all-star rosters and James had selected both John Wall and Beal to be his teammates. Then Beal proved he belonged among the best players in the game by scoring a team-best 41 points and grabbing a game-high 12 rebounds â" even more than the Thunderâs monster underneath the glass, Steven Adams. He showed the depth of his range while playing all but 2Â½ minutes. Beal shared the ball for seven assists and became the youngest player in NBA history to reach 780 career three-pointers (he sits at 782).
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This should have been enough to lead Washington (26-22). But too many mistakes and missed shots â" as well as too much Russell Westbrook â" kept the Wizards from achieving a statement win on the road.
âWe fought hard. We competed but it wasnât enough. Myself included,â Beal said. âI turned the ball over too much [five turnov ers]. I couldâve boxed out a few times, got some rebounds. I think the turnovers definitely hurt more than anything.â
Beal was guilty for five turnovers. The same for Wall (21 points, 12 assists), and the team committed 23 giveaways leading to 36 points for the Thunder. When the Wizards werenât tossing away possessions, they struggled to contain Westbrook.
An angry Westbrook, veins popping from his neck, dunked then howled and silenced every Wizards rally in the second half. Westbrook scored a game-high 46 points, including 21 of his teamâs 38 in the fourth quarter.
âHeâs one of the best players in the league,â said Wizards Coach Scott Brooks, who had an up-close view of his former player destroying his current team. âAnd itâs going to be like that for the next number of years. He competes. He puts them in a position to win. He reads the game.â
Before the game, Brooks noticed similarities between the teams.
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While Washington has struggled against teams with losing records, Oklahoma City â" with star power in Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony â" also has its share of shaky losses. By Dec. 1, the Thunder languished with an 8-12 record. Since then, the Thunder has experienced an awakening, improving to 28-20 with its sixth straight win.
Any similarities between the teams ended after tip-off. Westbrook found Adams for a lob pass and dunk on the first play. When Washington tried to duplicate with an interior play, Wallâs pass to center Marcin Gortat was picked off.
This started a choppy stretch for the Wizards as they missed their first six shots and couldnât move the ball freely around Oklahoma Cityâs length and defensive pressure. At halftime, Washington made only 35.7 percent from the floor and trailed 54-40.
Washington recovered by the third quarter with an 11-0 run to come within st riking distance. Although the Wizards found their offensive rhythm and challenged the Thunder with far greater ferocity, they still could not get over the hump.
As the Wizards trailed 69-68 with almost three minutes to play in the third quarter, Wall had a chance to give his team its first lead but instead turned timid. After Wall missed an open midrange look in front of Anthony, the Wizards cleaned up the miss. The ball swung his way again but Wall tried sharing it and lost the possession in the crowded paint. Oklahoma City responded with an angry layup from Westbrook, then a three-pointer by Anthony.
In the fourth quarter, the Wizards again cut the lead to a manageable deficit â" 88-85 after Wall hit a three-pointer â" but again, Westbrook pushed back. His tomahawk slam energized the crowd, forced the Wizards to call a timeout and punctuated a 21-point personal scoring binge in the fourth quarter. Washington did not come within one-possession again.
The Wiza rds trailed the entire way and lost their second straight game.
âIâm upset. I think everybody is upset and frustrated but weâre still a team,â Beal said. âWeâre still together. We keep our heads high.â
The Cavaliers are broken. They should make all four of these trades to get on track.
Cavaliers, Wizards may need to clear the air, but meetings wonât fix why they stink now
Wizards like Wall and Beal just fine, thank you very much. They just want to win.
Source: Google News US Sports | Netizen 24 United States