My heart has been twisted a million times the last five months by the Washington Wizards. I honestly wanted them to go for the top pick in this year’s NBA Draft not long ago. But this team had other plans, in a good way.
The Wizards just accomplished what seemed to be impossible a few weeks ago. They didn’t just make the play-in tournament. Washington (34-38) clinched the No. 8 seed with a 115-110 win over the Charlotte Hornets (33-39) at home on Sunday afternoon.
And like most Wizards games, this game was about as heart-wrenching as it could be. When the game began, Washington allowed the Hornets to race to a quick lead. After a 36-22 stinging first quarter, we could have kissed the No. 8 seed goodbye!
Like the Wizards of January 2021, they allowed the Hornets to make seven three pointers to nearly make this a blowout.
But Washington made a strong comeback in the second, outscoring Charlotte 30-20. So the Wizards were down 56-52 and I felt cautiously optimistic.
At halftime, unlike most games, while the Wizards were holding the Hornets to sub 40 percent shooting, the two Washington players who were having bad games were Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook who shot a combined 4-of-19 from the field.
RoLo, Rui, Davis, and Gafford are 14/23 from the field. Russ and Beal are 4/19. It’s going to be on the guards to turn it around! They’re still in this game!— Bullets Forever (@BulletsForever) May 16, 2021
The second half seemed a lot like first. The Wizards would spot Charlotte and they were down 90-79 after the third quarter. But Washington would make a comeback to stay in striking distance.
And then some!
Russell Westbrook led the Wizards with 23 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists for his 38th triple double of the season, his 184th overall. Bradley Beal came back from a hamstring injury and added 25 points. Robin Lopez came off the bench, scoring 18 points on 9-of-11 shooting.
For the Hornets, Terry Rozier led with 122 points and seven players scored in double figures. With the loss, the Hornets fell to the 10th seed in the East.
The Wizards are now headed to the postseason where they will play the No. 7 Boston Celtics on the road this Tuesday. While they could lose in the play-in tournament and end up in the lottery, playing in an elimination game after the regular season is playoff basketball to me.