On Saturday night in Dallas, there was a shootout between the Wizards(29-35) and Mavericks(36-27) and a shootout between Russell Westbrook and Luka Doncic.
Doncic finished with 31 points (12-23 FG), 12 rebounds, and a career-high 20 assists, while Westbrook led Washington with 42 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists, but the biggest shot of the game was made by Dorian Finney-Smith, who hit the game-winning corner three with 09.3 seconds left to lift the Mavericks over the Wizards 125-124 at American Airlines Center.
Finney-Smith finished with 22 points, and for the Wizards, Bradley Beal added 29 points.
Doncic became the fourth player in NBA history with 30-plus points, 10-plus rebounds, and 20 assists in a game. He joined Magic Johnson, Russell Westbrook, and Oscar Robertson as the only players to do so, and what was more impressive is that Doncic had only one turnover in this game.
After the game, Doncic was asked about his triple-double, and according to him, he was more impressed with the one turnover.
“I think I’m more impressed with having only one turnover,” he said. “That never happens. I was more impressed with that.”
Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle was impressed with the triple-double and the one turnover.
“I’m actually equally impressed with both,” Carlisle said… “I thought Luka [Dončić] ‘s poise down the stretch was spectacular. He just was very, very focused, made every single right play, and fittingly got the last rebound off the [Bradley] Beal miss. Look, everyone expects greatness from him every single night. Just think about it, at 22 years old, having that kind of expectation put on you every night. But he’s an amazing player and does an amazing job absorbing all of it.”
With the win, the Mavericks are tied with the Lakers for the fifth-seed in the Western Conference, and according to Doncic, the Mavericks are playing solid basketball right now.
“I think we’re playing better basketball now, but we’ve got to focus every game,” Doncic said. “We’ve got to come out like today and just keep having the same energy.”
If the Mavericks stay at five or six, they will play either the Nuggets(third seed) or the Clippers(fourth seed). Dallas is 2-1 against both of those teams, but who knows how much that will matter come playoff time. However, the most important thing is to avoid the seventh-seed, which keeps you out of the Play-in Tournament, and currently, Dallas has a one-game lead on the Blazers.
The Mavericks play the second game of their back-to-back on Sunday night against the Sacramento Kings, who defeated Dallas two times in April.
Back to Westbrook, this is the first time that he has missed a triple-double by one point, rebound or assist this season.
Kristaps Porzingis(knee) missed last night’s contest against the Wizards and will miss Sunday’s night game against the Kings. Porizingis hurt his knee on Thursday night against the Pistons. No timetable on his return.
Injuries have been a big issue for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season. At times, key players, including Kevin Love and Larry Nance jr. have missed significant time due to injuries, and on Friday night against the Wizards, Cleveland was missing six players, but they did get their leading scorer in Collin Sexton back, who missed the last three games with a concussion.
These two teams met last Sunday in Washington, and the Wizards defeated the Cavs 119-110.
On Friday night, Cleveland(21-42) competed in the first half against Washington(29-34) and trailed 58-52 at the break, but things went south when their point guard Darius Garland left the game early in the third quarter and did not return after rolling his ankle. Following Garland’s exit, Cleveland was outscored 33-16 in the quarter, and a six-point lead turned into a 23-point lead at the end of three for Washington, and ultimately, the Wizards would defeat the Cavaliers 122-93 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
The Wizards have won two straight and 10 of their last 11 games, while the Cavs have dropped five consecutive games.
Bradley Beal led Washington with 19 points, and Russell Westbrook had his NBA record-setting 14th triple-double in the month of April with 15 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists. Sexton had a game-high 22 points for Cleveland.
Garland is Cleveland’s floor general, and without him, Cleveland’s offense sputtered, which Cavs head coach J.B Bickerstaff discussed after the game.
“Darius is our lead guard,” he said. And it’s disappointing, obviously, for him having the injury, but he’s our leader; he’s the spirit of what we do, and he was playing at an extremely high level. It’s sad; it’s disappointing that the injury happened at this point, or at any point because his confidence was growing. He’s playing so well. The best month of his career by far… Obviously, him not being there hurt us a lot.”
Also, Love, who had 10 rebounds on Friday night, did not take a shot and ended the game with zero points in 22 minutes. According to Bickerstaff, Cleveland has to keep Love involved on the offensive end of the floor.
“I think he’s(Love) an important piece of what we do on that end of the floor,” Bickerstaff said. “So, we gotta find ways to get him involved, find ways to get him shots.”
At this point, the Cavaliers are going through the motions. They are not a healthy team, and they are not playing good basketball right now. However, this season was not about winning, it was about the development of young talent, and Cleveland must continue to do that in the final nine games of the season.
The Cavaliers continue their five-game homestand on Saturday night against the Miami Heat.
On Wednesday, Russell Westbrook made his Wizards’ debut on the road against the 76ers, and while he had a triple-double(21 points, 15 assists, 11 rebounds), Washington(0-1) would fall to the 76ers(1-0) 113-107.
The 32-year-old Westbrook, who came over to Washington from Houston in the trade that sent John Wall to the Rockets earlier this month, was disappointed in himself after the game.
“Not good enough. Honestly, I’m kind of disappointed in myself,” Westbrook said. “I had some mishaps and plays where I could have been better and had a better game to try to win. I don’t like moral victories at any point in my career. I always like to go out and try to win the game. I’ve gotta be better, and I’ll be better next game.”
Last season, moral victories were acceptable for the Wizards, who won only 25 games a year ago. However, this year is a different story. With Westbrook, Bradley Beal, and Davis Bertans on the court, Washington is looking to make the playoffs, and like Westbrook, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks is not interested in moral victories.
“The results matter. We’re not happy. There’s no moral victories,” Brooks said. “Last year, I thought we had just a different mindset. Not good or bad, we were just in a different place. This year, there are no moral victories. We have to come out and keep competing.”
Washington played well against the 76ers and had a legitimate chance to win the game, but they could not make the plays and get the stops down the stretch to get the victory.
In a loss, it’s clear that this team is going to put up points. Beal, who led the way with 31 points against Philadelphia, averaged 30.5 ppg last season. Also, Bertans scored 14 points, including 4-6 from downtown. He would only play 20 minutes, which was due to him being on a minutes restriction. So, scoring points won’t be an issue for Washington, especially when the team starts to gel.
On another note, we might be seeing a lot of triple-doubles out of Westbrook this season. The 12-year veteran is second in NBA history in triple-doubles(147). According to Elias Sports Bureau, Westbrook is the 6th player in NBA history with a triple-double in his team debut. With all the scoring they have on this team, Washington could offer Westbrook an opportunity for many assists. Furthermore, without a big-time rebounder on this roster(Thomas Bryant led the team with 7.2 RPG last season), Westbrook will get his rebounds, and he’s most definitely going to score. Based on this roster, if Westbrook remains healthy, he might mess around and average a triple-double this season for the fourth time in his career.
For the Washington Wizards, last season’s struggles came down to the team’s inability to defend. Washington allowed 119.1 points per game, which was 29th in the NBA. In addition, the team was 29th in opponents’ field goal percentage(48.8).
It isn’t easy to win in the NBA if you’re not defending, and Washington has to improve on that end of the court if they want to have success this season.
Conversely, on the offensive side of the court, Washington was one of the top-scoring teams in the league. In the 2019-20 season, the Wizards averaged 114.7 points a contest, which was 7th in the NBA.
Now, Washington will have more firepower with the addition of nine-time All-Star and former league MVP Russell Westbrook. You add that to what you got out of Bradley Beal last season, who was second in the NBA in points per game(30.5). Plus, they have arguably their best shooter back in Davis Bertans, who signed a five-year, $80 million contract this offseason, and was the team’s second-leading scorer last season(15.4 ppg).
With Westbrook and Beal, Bertans expects to get easier looks, and he expects the team to be tough to stop this season.
“I think it’s just going to be easier for everybody in a sense,” Bertans said on Wednesday. “There’s a lot of defensive attention toward Brad(Beal), and now having Russ(Westbrook), too. We got, I think, more shooters. Everybody improved in the summer. You can see that Rui(Hachimura) is making threes. Deni(Avidja) is a pretty good shooter, so I think, in that case, it’s going to be a lot easier for Brad and Russ to attack the rim, and the defense has to pay more attention to them, and everybody else going to be open around the perimeter. So, I think the team is built, offensively, pretty great.”
However, according to Bertans, Washington has to play better defense if they want to have a productive season.
“It’s going to be more on what we going to do on the defensive end,” Bertans said. “How we’re going to talk on defense. How hard we’re going to play on defense. That’s going to be the main differential on whether we’re going to win games or lose games.”
Defense wins championships, and Washington has to be committed to defending this season if they want to make the playoffs and contend in the Eastern Conference, which means the back end of the defense has to be better, especially C Thomas Bryant, who will be called on to anchor the defense. Adding a defensive center in Robin Lopez should help, but time will tell if it will be enough for Washington to improve on the defensive end next season.
Nine-time All-Star and former league MVP Russell Westbrook is officially a member of the Washington Wizards. This week, the Wizards acquired the 32-year-old Westbrook from the Rockets in exchange for John Wall and a first-round draft pick.
In Washington, Westbrook will join two-time All-Star Bradley Beal. Last season, the 27-year-old Beal averaged career-highs in points(30.5) and assists(6.1), and was an All-Star snub in 2019-20.
On Saturday, Westbrook met the D.C. media, and he discussed doing his part to make things easier for Beal.
“Brad(Beal) is a superstar talent,” Westbrook said. “He proved that and showed that last year with what he had, and he’s only going to get better. My job is to come in and continue to uplift him, try to push him to be better. That’s all I’m here for, man. I’m happy to be his counterpart and try to make the game easier for him.”
On paper, Westbrook and Beal are one of the best backcourts in basketball. The key is these two being able to complement each other on the floor. Beal had the ball in his hands a lot last season, and Westbrook is another player that flourishes with the ball in his hands, so it will be something that both players have to figure out.
Making the playoffs won’t be easy in the Eastern Conference for Washington. Out of the eight teams(Bucks, Raptors, Celtics, Pacers, Heat, 76ers, Nets, and Magic) that made the playoffs last season, there’s probably one team you could see possibly not making the playoffs, which is Orlando. Other than that, those other seven teams either have gotten better or pretty much stayed the same. However, every year in the NBA, some teams become surprisingly good and others become surprisingly bad.
Therefore, Westbrook and Beal must have big seasons and stay healthy. Also, Davis Bertans, an elite shooter, must live up to his big contract(five years, $80 million). In addition, the younger guys like Rui Hachimura, Thomas Bryant, and Troy Brown Jr. must take that next step as players. No matter what happens, having Westbrook in D.C. will bring new energy to the team and fanbase, which should be fun to see this season.
In a move that has been rumored for weeks, the Washington Wizards have reportedly traded six-time All-Star John Wall and 2023 protected first-round pick to the Rockets for former league MVP Russell Westbrook, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
Both Wall and Westbrook reportedly wanted to be traded, and if that’s true, they both got their wish. Both players have three years left on their contracts at $132 million. The 30-year-old Wall missed all of last season with a ruptured left Achilles tendon. Wall will now be teamed with James Harden in Houston, which should be interesting because there were reports that Harden wanted out of Houston. However, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, Houston hopes to be competitive with him this season and does not envision a scenario where Harden would be traded before the opener.
For the 32-year-old Westbrook, this is an opportunity to reunite with his former coach in OKC, Scott Brooks, and a chance for Westbrook and Bradley Beal to lead the Wizards back to the playoffs, which should happen for Washington.
Both players probably needed a change of scenery, and both players will have a lot to prove. Is Russell Westbrook, who averaged 27.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 7.0 assists per game last season, a declining asset? For Wall, can he become the player that he used to be before the injuries?
Time will tell.
According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Oklahoma City Thunder have traded Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul; first-round picks in 2024 and 2026, pick swaps in 2021 and 2025.
With the move, Westbrook reunites with his former teammate James Harden. Should be interesting to see how the combination of Harden and Westbrook will be in Houston, but for now, with the trade of Paul George and Westbrook, OKC is rebuilding having acquired eight first-round picks since draft night, and Houston is trying to get an NBA title.
The Oklahoma City Thunder have agreed to trade Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul, first-round picks in 2024 and 2026, pick swaps in 2021 and 2025, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 12, 2019
Russell Westbrook tried to do everything in his power to get the Thunder to Game 7. Despite scoring 46 points, Westbrook, and the Thunder would lose 96-91 to Utah in Game 6 on Friday night.
With the loss, OKC season ends in disappointment, while the Jazz move on to face the Rockets in the Western Conference semifinals.
After the game, Westbrook got into a confrontation with a fan
Watch and here Westbrook’s reaction to the fans in Utah:
Russell Westbrook went IN on Jazz fans. pic.twitter.com/CpiYBtX7IO
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 28, 2018
Does Westbrook have a point? Maybe. Just because you buy a ticket, does not mean you have the right to be disrespectful. Considering his frustration level after being eliminated from the playoff, you can understand Westbrook’s reaction. However, Westbrook has to try to stay calm in those situations because he’s the one that will look bad.
Former NBA player Stephen Jackson was a tough guy during his NBA career. If Jackson had an issue with you, he would find a way to solve it.
According to Jackson, if he were a teammate of Russell Westbrook, he would have slapped Zaza Pachulia for falling on Russell Westbrook’s legs on Saturday night.
Westbrook thought Pachulia purposely fell on his leg, but Pachulia denies it.
If you missed, here you go:
Russell Westbrook: "Obviously it was intentional"
Zaza Pachulia: "That's childish. Come on."
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) February 25, 2018
Jackson agrees with Westbrook, and gave his thoughts today on FS1’s Undisputed:
— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) February 26, 2018