New York: Sunday, June 06, 2021
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New York: Sunday, June 06, 2021
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(4 is just watching the pictures)

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Bradley Beal returns as Wizards storm back to grab eighth seed against Hornets

Bradley Beal limped, grimaced and slogged up and down the courtroom Sunday. The Washington Wizards star clearly was nonetheless battling by way of the hamstring harm that sidelined him for 3 video games. 

But to Beal, there wasn’t a lot of a query that he’d be on the market. Not with a lot on the road in Washington’s common season finale. 

“Ultimately, I just couldn’t let them down,” Beal mentioned. 

Beal and the Wizards pulled out a dramatic come-from-behind 115-110 victory Sunday over Charlotte Hornets, storming back within the fourth quarter to safe the eighth seed within the Eastern Conference. As a outcome, Washington will now play the seventh-seeded Boston Celtics at 9 p.m. Tuesday within the NBA’s play-in event.  The Hornets completed as the tenth seed.

Washington trailed by 11 initially of the fourth, and erased a 16-point deficit total. The Wizards did so behind Beal’s game-high 25 factors and co-star Russell Westbrook’s 184th profession triple-double (23 factors, 15 rebounds and 10 assists).  Washington additionally acquired big contributions from position gamers in guard Ish Smith (14 factors, seven assists) and heart Robin Lopez (18 factors, six rebounds). 

The stakes had been clear for the Wizards Sunday: Win and so they’re the eighth seed. Lose, and so they’d fall back to 10. 

The main distinction between the spots is that if the Wizards completed tenth, they might have risked being eradicated with a loss Tuesday against the No. 9 seed Indiana Pacers. Now, in the event that they lose to the Celtics on Tuesday, they’ll face the winner of the No. 9 vs. No. 10 matchup at Capital One Arena. 

Simply put, the Wizards have extra wiggle room to make the playoffs. They can even safe a postseason spot outright in the event that they beat Boston to grab a maintain of the seventh seed.

“This game kind of mimicked our season,” coach Scott Brooks mentioned. “We were getting punched left and right and we just somehow kept battling. A play here and a play there. They had us on the ropes … but we just kept getting up and fighting for one another. I’ve been talking about brotherhood for a while now and this group is really the cold definition of brotherhood.” 

When the Wizards look back on this season, 17-32 could be the start line. That’s when Washington was 15 video games underneath .500 on April 5. Its season regarded derailed by accidents, inconsistent play and the three-week pause due to the COVID-19 outbreak in January. 

But the Wizards entered Sunday having gained 16 of their final 22, their spot within the play-in secured. Players credited a detailed on-court and off-court chemistry, serving to them stick collectively even when league protocols typically prevented them from routine actions like workforce dinners or bonding on the highway.

The Wizards had already saved their season prior to assembly the Hornets, however the circumstances round Sunday’s showdown meant this sport would basically be the Wizards’ greatest in three years — since they final made the postseason. So naturally, the Wizards had been glad to have Beal back, even when he wasn’t at 100%. 

Beal’s return, nevertheless, didn’t translate to a powerful begin — from him or the remainder of his teammates. Beal missed his first six photographs and the Wizards couldn’t discover any offensive rhythm as they fell behind 36-22 within the first. Though they battled back to reduce Charlotte’s lead to 4 at halftime, Beal was simply 2-of-11 from the sphere and settled principally for jumpers. 

The state of affairs took one other flip for the more severe within the third. The Hornets ballooned their lead to as many as 16 as Washington failed to comprise guards Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham. Charlotte did injury contained in the paint and past the arc, going into the fourth with a 90-79 lead. 

The Wizards, although, had one push left in them. And they began making stops. Reserve guard Ish Smith stripped Hornets heart Cody Zeller clear on a layup try — main to a Beal 3-pointer on the opposite finish that reduce the deficit to three. Later, a wide-open Westbrook tied it on his personal three — firing off the shot after patiently taking his time. 

Smith then gave the Wizards the lead to cap a 17-4 run, forcing the Hornets to name timeout. 

As the 2 groups traded baskets and leads, Lopez got here up large. The 33-year-old’s craft hook shot helped Washington set up an inside presence and his screening helped open lanes for Beal and Westbrook.

Beal’s driving layup with 2:53 left gave the Wizards the lead they by no means misplaced.  Twenty of Beal’s 25 factors got here within the second half.

As they exited the courtroom, Westbrook grabbed Beal to inform him how a lot he appreciated him.

“We fought through so much to get here now,” Westbrook mentioned. “Nobody believed that we’d be here.”

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