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Wizards secure No. 8 seed, knock LaMelo, Hornets to 10th with win

At the trade deadline, there were questions from a lot of fans (and a few greedy GMs hoping for a deal): Why weren’t the Washington Wizards trading Bradley Beal when the team was clearly out of it?

This is why. Beal returned to the court Sunday from a strained hamstring, and while he didn’t look himself, he got it together and scored 20 of his 25 points in the second half, leading a come-from-behind Wizards’ win over the Hornets that secured the No. 8 seed for Washington and a spot in the play-in in the East.

Charlotte, Washington, and Indiana all entered the day tied for the 8/9/10 seeds in the East at 33-38, but the Hornets/Wizards game determined the No. 8 seed due to tiebreakers.

With the win, Washington will travel to Boston for the 7/8 play-in game in the East on Tuesday (time still TBD). The winner of that game will be the No. 7 seed in the playoffs (taking on Brooklyn or Milwaukee in the first round).

Charlotte will travel to Indiana Tuesday to take on the Pacers, who moved up to the No. 9 seed with a win over the Raptors on Sunday. The loser of the Hornets vs. Pacers game is eliminated, while the winner advances to a Thursday showdown with the team that lost the Wizards/Celtics game. The winner of that third game becomes the No. 8 seed in the East and will face the 76ers in the first round of the playoffs starting next weekend.

Beal looked rusty at the start in his return to action but found his groove as the game went along. Russell Westbrook had another triple-double with 23 points, 15 rebounds, and 10 assists. In your “points from an unexpected source” column, Robin Lopez had 18 off the bench for Washington.

LaMelo Ball had 19 points, Terry Rozier 22 to lead the Hornets.