Wizards beat Pacers in OT to leap them for 9th place in East originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The Washington Wizards beat the Indiana Pacers 133-132 in overtime on Saturday night. Here are five observations from what went down...
Move into 9th
Saturday's game between the Wizards and Pacers may have been a preview of the first round of the play-in tournament, at least in terms of the teams that played. Because the Wizards won, that matchup is now more likely to take place in Washington than Indiana, if both get that far.
The Wizards leapt the Pacers to take over the ninth spot in the East. That puts them in position to host the first play-in round. Their magic number to clinch a spot is now only two.
This night, though, was all about Russell Westbrook, to the degree he overshadowed a 50-point effort by Bradley Beal. Westbrook tied the all-time triple-doubles record, plus hit the go-ahead free throws in overtime and blocked a shot at the buzzer to seal the win.
Westbrook often says he will do whatever it takes to help his team win. On this night, he literally did everything.
Westbrook tied Oscar
Westbrook got his record-tying triple-double so quickly on Saturday night, it was like he wanted to get it over with. By halftime he had 15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, meaning all he needed was three boards and three dimes in the second half to tie Oscar Robertson's all-time record.
He got there late in the third quarter, as an assist to Beal completed the task. Westbrook now has 181 triple-doubles in the regular season, same as Robertson who has held the record since 1974. Westbrook will have four chances to pass him by the end of this season, beginning with two games in Atlanta. The Wizards' final two games are at home.
Westbrook ended up with 33 points, 19 rebounds, 15 assists and two blocks in this one.
Beal got hot
It is going to be difficult for Beal to catch Stephen Curry and regain the scoring lead by the end of the season, but he's doing his best. After scoring 28 points in his last game, a low number for him, he bounced back in a big way with 50 points against Indiana. He shot 19-for-31.
Beal had 26 points by halftime, as he came out swinging and getting all sorts of difficult shots to fall. In the second quarter, he lunged forward trying to draw a foul and banked in the shot, seemingly by accident. It was one of those nights for him where everything worked.
Beal left with injury
Though he put up monster numbers, Beal had to leave in the third quarter for a brief period due to a right ankle injury. He left with 28 points and came back to score 22 more. It was the fifth time in Beal's career he's scored at least 50 points. He's now the 21st player in NBA history to have at least five 50-point games.
Beal, though, would exit the game again late in the fourth quarter, nearly doubling over in pain on the sideline. He held a towel over his head as teammates patted him on the back for encouragement. Exactly how severe the injury is, we should find out more postgame, but the fact Beal could not even be on the floor for the closing stretch of regulation and overtime signals it must be pretty painful.
The Wizards got one of their best players back against Indiana, as Rui Hachimura returned from a two-game absence due to an illness that was not Covid-related. The second-year forward had a solid game with 13 points and six rebounds. Whatever the illness was, it didn't sap him of his strength, as one of his best plays was a tough basket in between two defenders on an up-and-under move. He also had a block on Damantas Sabonis, an All-Star big man.
Getting Hachimura back was a good sign and especially considering there are four more games left in the regular season after this one. That should be enough time for him to get into rhythm before the play-in tournament begins. If the Wizards are to qualify, he will step into an important role as arguably their third-most important player.