The Washington Wizards beat the Los Angeles Lakers 116-107 on Wednesday night. Here are five observations from what went down...
Best vs. the West
Somehow, the Wizards own the Western Conference, and not just the average teams. By beating the defending-champion Lakers on Wednesday, and sweeping them for the season, the Wizards moved to 8-2 against the top-5 seeds in the West.
They also swept the No. 1 Jazz and No. 4 Nuggets. And they earned wins against all five of the West's top teams.
The Wizards made this one look easy. The Lakers, of course, were playing without LeBron James, who has now missed 20 straight games. That is the longest streak of his career.
Bradley Beal had 27 points and maintained his NBA scoring lead. Russell Westbrook (18 points, 18 rebounds, 14 assists) had his 30th triple-double of the season and the 176th of his career. He is now only five behind Oscar Robertson on the all-time list, needing six for the record.
The Wizards have 10 games remaining with five of their final seven on the road. Their last two are at home, which means there's a chance Wizards fans could witness history. But at this rate, he's more likely to set the record in Indiana or Atlanta.
All of the poster dunks
This game featured three of the better dunks of the season for the Wizards and two of them were thrown down by the guys they acquired from the Chicago Bulls at the trade deadline. Both Daniel Gafford and Chandler Hutchison caught bodies with huge slams, Gafford on Kyle Kuzma and Hutchison on Talen Horton-Tucker.
The most vicious dunk of the night, however, was from Rui Hachimura on Anthony Davis. He got him on the fastbreak with about as powerful a dunk as any Wizards player has thrown down in years.
The most shocking part was the aftermath. Davis crashed into the stanchion and when he got up he was holding his nose and seemed shaken up. He looked like a wide receiver who got blown up by a linebacker on a targeting play.
Hutchison got some run
It was surprising to see Hutchison play at all after he had only appeared in two of the Wizards' previous 12 games. But he got the call instead of Anthony Gill, who had been playing well lately. Maybe head coach Scott Brooks was looking for a bit more athleticism and length in that spot in the rotation.
Hutchison rewarded that decision with eight points and six rebounds in 13 minutes. He shot 4-of-5 from the field.
Also, when it comes to Gafford, just like Alex Len with the Raptors, he's helping the Wizards hold off the team that let him go earlier this season. Gafford wasn't released like Len was, but the Bulls gave him up to a team that is now ahead of them in the standings and he's been a big reason why.
Rui vs. A.D.
Hachimura had a strong night against Davis in general. Now that the Lakers have Davis and Andre Drummond, they have a very difficult frontcourt duo for teams to match up. Both are big and athletic, particularly Davis at the four spot. That left Hachimura with a fairly significant size disadvantage at power forward.
Hachimura, though, held his own and in what was only his second game back from left knee soreness. He had a solid game offensively with 12 points and also had some good moments defensively against Davis. He ran the floor well to keep up with Davis and did a nice job using his strength on the block to keep him away from the rim. It was another game where Hachimura flashed the defensive versatility that is really starting to come to light this season.
After missing Monday's game due to a left ankle sprain, Robin Lopez was back for the Wizards and dropping in hookshots. He was moving even slower than usual and had his left calf wrapped up, yet he made an instant impact with eight points in eight minutes in the first half.
Lopez only played those eight minutes, much lower than his season average of 19.6, as the Wizards were trying to ease him back. But he gave them a lift after a start that saw Davis and Montrezl Harrell eat them up in the paint. It was yet another example of the three-center rotation working in Brooks' favor. He tried different things and found something that worked.