The Washington Wizards just played their best half of basketball in five decades.
In the first half of the Wizards’ big Eastern Conference win against the Indiana Pacers on Monday, Washington treated its home fans to some special basketball, leading Indiana 82-66 heading into the break.
Per NBC Sports Washington’s Chase Hughes, 82 first-half points was the most the team has scored since 1970, and the third-most in franchise history. It was also just the fifth time ever the team has put up 80 in a half. Washington ended up defeating the Pacers by a final score of 154-141.
During the incredible first half of action vs. the Pacers, 50 of Washington’s 82 points were scored in the paint. Also, the Wizards dished out 27 assists in the half and Russell Westbrook had a 8-12-14 statline. Yes, ‘Russ’ nearly put up a triple-double in just 24 minutes of game time — a feat he ended up achieving within the first couple possessions of the third quarter. He finished with 14 points, 21 rebounds and 24 assists--the latter of which was a career-high.
Westbrook’s triple-double was his 178th of his career, as he now sits just three behind NBA legend Oscar Robertson for the all-time lead.
It wasn’t just Westbrook who led the Wizards to the historic half. Bradley Beal put up 16 first-half points, Daniel Gafford had 11 of his own (off the bench), and Rui Hachimura and Alex Len chipped in nine each. Washington’s team effort was arguably the best of the season thus far.
The Pacers were additionally severely shorthanded for Monday’s game. Starting center and the league’s leading blocker, Myles Turner was out with a partial plantar plate tear. Former Rookie of the Year and University of Virginia alum Malcolm Brogdon was also dressed in street clothes due to a sore hamstring.
Indiana’s duel with Washington on Monday had massive playoff implications. The Pacers entered the matchup 30-33 on the season, at ninth place in the east. Washington are right on their tail, coming into Monday 29-35 (10th place), just a game and a half behind them. However, the Wizards' win now serves as a tiebreaker for the postseason, as Washington has won the season series. Washington improves to 30-35, now just half a game behind Indianapolis.