WASHINGTON – Wizards coach Scott Brooks envisioned something like this when Washington acquired Russell Westbrook from Houston for John Wall and a draft pick.
It took more time than expected because of a nagging injury, but maybe things are starting to look up for the team with the worst record in the NBA.
At least for a night, they sure did.
Bradley Beal and Westbrook hit 3-pointers in a wild 3.8-second sequence in the final seconds to help the Wizards stun Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets 149-146 on Sunday night.
Westbrook had 41 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, and NBA scoring leader Beal had 37 points. In the fourth quarter, Beal had 22 points and Westbrook had 15. Durant, second in the NBA in scoring, also had 37 points.
“Russell willed this game,” Brooks said about Westbrook, who has only played in 10 of 16 games due to a quad injury. “This is what he does. He can do it every night. He doesn’t shoot the ball well every night but he doesn’t take nights out.”
With Washington down 146-141, Beal hit a 3-pointer with 8.1 seconds left. Garrison Matthews deflected Joe Harris’ inbounds pass to Westbrook and he made a 3 with 4.3 seconds left for a 147-146 lead.
“It was a dumb mistake on my part," Harris said about the inbounds pass that led to the go-ahead basket.
It was epic collapse from a team hoping to contend for an NBA title but the Nets did get a great look to force overtime.
Kyrie Irving found Timothe Luwawu-Carbarrot under the basket with 2.9 seconds left, but his layup attempt spun around the rim and failed to drop. Beal added two free throws with 0.7 seconds left as the Wizards broke a four-game losing streak and improved to a still NBA-worst 4-12.
“I couldn’t guard a stick today,” Irving said. “They were going right around me, and I was getting frustrated, but they kept attacking.”
Harris scored a career-high 30 points, and Irving had 26 for Brooklyn which led by as many as 18. The Nets had won four in a row.
James Harden sat out because of a thigh contusion, the first game he has missed since being traded from Houston to Brooklyn on Jan. 13.
“It’s not looking great defensively for our team, giving up that many points,” Durant said after Washington shot 51.9% for the game.
Westbrook has set season scoring highs in consecutive games. He entered the game averaging 18.9 points, his lowest output since his second season in 2009-10.
“That’s part of leadership,” Westbrook said about playing hard every time out on the court. “It’s a part of my responsibility as a leader to bring it every single night. I take pride in that because I don’t think that everybody does that in sports.”
The Wizards are 1-4 since resuming play after a 13-day layoff that included six postponements due to COVID-19 related issues.
Nets: Bruce Brown started with Harden out and finished with three points in 32 minutes and picked up a technical in the fourth quarter after some words with Westbrook. Westbrook also was called for a technical. ... Jeff Green scored a season-high 23 points, but Brooklyn fell to 8-3 when Green reaches double figures.
Wizards: Brooks picked up a technical in the first quarter. ... Beal had just 11 points in the first half. … Davis Bertans was 3 for 12 on 3-pointers and finished with 11 points…Washington’s bench outscored Brooklyn’s 50-41
Nets coach Steve Nash said Harden’s injury wasn’t too severe and that Sunday’s absence was precautionary with the hope that it’s just a one game scratch for the former MVP.
Harden missed out on facing Russell Westbrook for the first time since they were teammates in Houston last season. Harden, Westbrook and Durant were all teammates in Oklahoma City for three seasons from 2009-10 to 2011-12.
Westbrook has missed six games while trying to ease his way into the season but was also out while the Wizards team was unavailable due to COVID-19. Brooks is happy that Westbrook has been caution in his approach.
“I’m glad because he is an old man now,” Brooks joked about the 32-year-old guard. “He needs to be smarter.”
Nets: Host the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night.
Wizards: Host Portland on Tuesday night.
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