The most important Washington Wizards player in Capital One Arena for Saturday night’s 128-112 win wasn’t even on the court. Thomas Bryant was back on the bench after surgery to repair a torn ACL suffered in early January. His presence was the perfect complement to a Washington team that, since Valentine’s Day, has the second-best record in the NBA (7–1).
The Wizards started the game in fine form, going 5–5 from the field. Moritz Wagner added two threes but was forced out in five minutes after picking up two fouls. Alex Len did well in relief, putting up four points, three rebounds and two blocks. Despite a mid-quarter 9–0 run that gave the Wolves a 21–16 lead, Washington kept pace by forcing Minnesota into sticky situations and finishing their free throws. After the first, the Wizards trailed 29–27.
As the second got underway, Russell Westbrook led the offense with 10 points. Westbrook, who picked up his tenth triple-doubles on the season, had 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. As he’s done all season, Garrison Mathews served as the team’s energy guy, finishing the frame with four points, three rebounds and a slew of hustle plays. And with the home team needing to close out the first half, they turned to their all-star; Bradley Beal scored nine of his 13 first-half points in the final 4:38.
Minnesota came out of the break firing, to the tune of two threes, to reclaim the lead. Beal, though, wasn’t having any of it — number three imposed his will with 10 points, a steal and two assists. A 9–0 run put the Wizards up by five and forced a Minnesota timeout. The stoppage, however, did nothing to slow Beal’s momentum — he had another seven points, one rebound, two assists and drew a charge. The former Gator’s 17 third-quarter points — 34 on the night — plus Davis Bertans’ four threes — en route to 19 — helped the Wizards take a 98–81 lead into the break.
Bradley Beal now has 20 games this season with 30+ points in 28 games played, only the fifth player since 2000 to do so in his first 30 games of the season (Harden, Iverson, Anthony, James).#WizWolves | @RealDealBeal23 pic.twitter.com/ryaxVIenwN— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) February 28, 2021
The beginning of the fourth treated viewers to nifty passing between Westbrook (19 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists), Raul Neto and Mathews (18 points, nine rebounds). Minnesota kept pace through Naz Reid, who had 17 points in 18 minutes off the bench. The only sour note was Neto leaving the game early with what would later be diagnosed as a left knee contusion, further slashing the Wizards’ guard depth — Ish Smith is out with a quad injury. Two late threes by Anthony Edwards (21 points, six rebounds) made the final minutes nervier than they should have been, but the Wizards took care of business for win seven of the last eight.
Karl-Anthony Town led the visitors with 23 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.