The Washington Wizards beat the Indiana Pacers 132-124 on Monday night. Here are five takeaways from what went down...
If the Wizards are going to defy the odds to qualify for the playoffs, or the play-in tournament, they need to take advantage of what is a lighter part of their schedule and start turning things around soon. In their last two games, that's exactly what they have done.
After beating the lowly Pistons on Saturday, the Wizards followed it up with an impressive win over a talented, if struggling Pacers team. Washington was able to get the win without Bradley Beal, who sat due to injury.
Russell Westbrook and Rui Hachimura were big reasons for that. Westbrook had a 35-point triple-double, while Hachimura went off for 26 points and eight rebounds. With Beal and Davis Bertans out, Hachimura filled the scoring void in the type of game that suggests he could have star potential someday.
With two straight wins, the Wizards are now 17-28 on the year. They are 3-3 in their last six games, which could be a sign of the stability they have been searching for since the All-Star break.
Westbrook sets the record
Say what you want about Westbrook and triple-doubles as a stat, but there is no denying what Westbrook accomplished on Monday night is impressive. He notched his 16th triple-double as a member of the Wizards, all this season of course, and that gave him the Wizards/Bullets franchise record for career triple-doubles.
The previous mark was held by Darrell Walker, who set the record in his 251st game and his fourth season with the team. Monday was Westbrook's 38th game with the Wizards since coming over in an offseason trade. Westbrook is already the best player in franchise history at getting triple-doubles and he just got here. No matter how long he plays in Washington, expect that record to be much tougher to beat for the next guy. Westbrook is now averaging a triple-double on the season with no signs of slowing down.
Westbrook had 35 points, 21 assists and 14 rebounds. He became the first Wizards/Bullets player with 21 or more assists since Kevin Porter in 1980. And he became only the third player in NBA history to have a triple-double with at least 30 points, 20 assists and 10 rebounds. The other two were Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson.
Gafford was good again, but got injured
Daniel Gafford has only played two games for the Wizards, but so far he's been exactly as-advertised. Pretty much all he does is dunk and block shots, and he does those things well. Both skills have stood out for the Wizards, who do not feature many high-flying dunkers and who rank dead-last in the NBA in blocks.
Gafford's athleticism stood out on a few plays in this one. He blocked a shot at the rim by T.J. McConnell, then beat Westbrook down the court for a dunk on the other end. Gafford also missed a shot in the second half from about six feet out, but leapt above the rim to throw down a putback slam. It showed off his motor and his second jump ability, which is important for NBA big men.
Gafford had 11 points, six rebounds and two blocks. Unfortunately, he left the game in the fourth quarter with a right ankle injury. Gafford came down on the shoe of a Pacers player and rolled his ankle. He had to be taken to the locker room in a wheelchair, which does not seem like a great sign.
Beal was out
Beal didn't play because of a right hip contusion, which he suffered in the Wizards' win over the Pistons on Saturday night. In the second quarter, Beal fell hard to the ground after he was called for an offensive foul. He left that game and was considered questionable for this one before head coach Scott Brooks shared the news he wouldn't play pregame.
Jerome Robinson got the start for Beal, as Brooks decided to keep Garrison Mathews in his new role as the backup shooting guard. Robinson had three points, three steals and three blocks. The Wizards played fine without Beal in this one, but will certainly hope to get him back sooner than later. The Wizards happen to play again on Tuesday night in the second night of a back-to-back, so we'll see how the Wizards decide to handle it.
Chandler Hutchison sat out on Saturday in what was his first opportunity to play for them after being traded from the Bulls before the deadline. But he was ready to go on Monday and late in the first quarter he came in to replace Hachimura at the four. Though Hutchison primarily plays the two and the three, the Wizards first used him in a small lineup.
One of the first things that stands out about Hutchison, however, is his size. He's listed at 6-foot-7 but did not look out of place as a small-ball four. His athleticism also grabs your attention, as he's very agile for his height and showed good burst to the rim. Hutchison's first points came on an acrobatic finger roll where he reached around the defender to score. He also knocked down a corner three.
Hutchison had 18 points, which were tied for the second-most in his career and were more than he had scored the rest of this season combined. Not bad for a guy who hadn't played since Feb. 5.