As evidenced by the Brooklyn Nets’ decision to rest James Harden, they clearly didn’t think they needed all three of their stars to defeat the Washington Wizards. But they were wrong. In a display of one high-octane offense taking on another, the Wizards managed to pull off an improbable 149–146 win against one of the hottest teams in the league.
Early threes from Kevin Durant and Joe Harris, who hit a career-high eight threes en route to 30 points, forced a timeout from Wizards Coach Scott Brooks. Despite the timeout, the Nets would continue to scorch the basket from deep, and after Harris hit another three to put his side up 14, Brooks was forced to call yet another timeout. And it wasn't Brooklyn’s starters — Jeff Green added 23 points off the bench.
Looking for a spark off the bench, Brooks called upon veteran guard Ish Smith (13 points, seven assists), who injected instant energy with a shifty layup and a smooth two. The Wizards surrendered 38 points in the first, a metric that would foreshadow the high-scoring nature of the match. A 15–7 run capped the first, along with an off-balanced Davis Bertans three, he would finish the game 3–12 from downtown and 11 points, and had the Wizards trailing 38–28 at the break.
At the beginning of the second, it was Nets head coach Steve Nash calling timeouts after his side allowed a Smith jumper and a Moe Wagner steal-plus-emphasis-dunk. Even with Bradley Beal failing to even attempt a field goal until the 8:07 mark of the second, the Wizards saw contributions across the board — in eight minutes, Wagner, who finished with 17 points and five rebounds, put up eight points, two boards and one steal.
Russell Westbrook, who, a night after notching a season-high 26 points, cruised to 41 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, did all he could to counterbalance paltry shooting from behind the arc (The Wizards were 3-of-18 from three at the half).
The third quarter was characterized by back-and-forth scoring, as both teams played fast and sloppy. It was a familiar script: when Brooklyn pushed the lead to 10, Brooks called for a break. Then there was Westbrook missing a three, grabbing his own rebound and finding Wagner, who hit a jumper as time expired. The Wizards trailed 108–101 after three.
With the deficit shrinking and the clock ticking, the stars — Durant (37 points, seven rebounds and six assists) and Kyrie Irving (26 points, eight assists) — were not looking to pass late in the game. Between Westbrook and Beal, who had 24 points in the second half and 37 altogether, the Wizards were more than happy to step into the ring with Brooklyn’s bruisers.
With 12 seconds remaining, and the Wizards down by five, Beal sped up the court and hit a long three. With seven seconds left, Garrison Mathews stole the inbound pass, dished it to Westbrook who hit his biggest three of the season, putting the Wizards up one.!
BEAL AND WESTBROOK.— NBA TV (@NBATV) February 1, 2021
After Brooklyn missed what would have been the game-winning layup and the Wizards claimed their fourth win of the season, Westbrook was giddy in his postgame interview. “We just wanted to win,” he said with a beaming smile.