Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 1/7/13
WASHINGTON -- When the owners of the NBA's best record visited the league's cellar-dwellers Monday, a 19-year-old rookie's poised game-winner and two four-point plays scripted an ending no one saw coming. Bradley Beal's one-handed, floating jumper with three-tenths of a seconds remaining propelled the Washington Wizards to a stunning 101-99 win over the league-leading Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday. Beal, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 draft, scored 22 points, including a four-point play in the third quarter. At the end, the Washington shooting guard made an even bigger bucket against the reigning Western Conference champions after Kevin Durant's 3-pointer with 36 seconds left tied the score. "I was just telling him that a lot of players come in and don't hit shots like that -- ever," Washington forward Trevor Ariza said of Beal. "He's coming into his own early." The Wizards (5-28) won their second straight over the Thunder (26-8) and snapped a six-game losing streak. The outcome was even more surprising considering Washington played without leading scorers Jordan Crawford and Nene. "We let them stick around because we're not taking them serious enough," said Durant, who led the Thunder with 29 points. "We can't do that, man. We can't do that." Washington pulled ahead with a 23-6 second-half run, then led by 10 in the fourth quarter. Martell Webster (22 points) completed his own four-point play with 1:43 remaining to give the Wizards a 99-94 lead. After Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka hit a jumper and Washington missed two shots, Durant, playing in his hometown, connected from beyond the arc. That long basket proved rare on a night the Thunder finished 6-for-25 (24 percent) on 3-point attempts. Beginning in the middle of the third quarter, the Thunder missed 16 consecutive shots, going nearly 11 minutes without a field goal. A.J. Price misfired on the Wizards' first attempt at a go-ahead basket with 12 seconds left, but Washington retained possession and called timeout. Wizards coach Randy Wittman's message in the subsequent huddle: "'How many times have we been in this spot? ... It's time for us to be on the other end, to have someone step up and make a play.' Bradley made a hell of a shot." Beal took the inbounds pass, maneuvered to the top of the foul-line circle, pump-faked Kendrick Perkins and Thabo Sefolosha, then hit a 16-footer for the cool game-winner. Not that he planned it that way. "I didn't know what I was going to do, to be honest with you," said Beal, who has scored at least 22 points in three of his last five games. "Coach just said go make a play. I knew Perkins was going to go for it for sure. With the time running down like that, you always want to contest a jump shot. I was just trying to make a smart play." Russell Westbrook's heave at the buzzer missed for Thunder, who entered having won two straight. Westbrook shot 4-for-17, missed five of six from beyond the arc, and scored 17 points. Ibaka added 26 points and 11 rebounds. "I thought we had a chance," Westbrook said. "We just had to get a stop. But the way the game had been going for us throughout the game, it wouldn't surprise me if they would make a game-winner." Starting in place of Nene, Kevin Seraphin scored 19 points. His basket gave Washington its largest lead at 86-76. Emeka Okafor had 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Wizards, who lost by 28 points at Miami on Sunday. In the only meeting between the two teams last season, Washington won105-102 at home. The NBA's lowest scoring team, Washington matched its best first-quarter output this season and led 30-20, but the Thunder countered with a 33-point second quarter on 14-of-21 shooting. Durant scored 15 points in the half and Ibaka matched him by draining a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to give Oklahoma City a 53-51 lead. The Wizards saw two players return to action, Ariza and guard A.J. Price. Ariza, who missed 17 games with a strained left calf suffered against Miami on Dec. 4, scored three points. Price, who sat out 15 games after fracturing his right hand against Golden State on Dec. 8, finished with four points, five rebounds and five assists. Two of Washington's five wins have come against last year's NBA finalists. The Wizards upset Miami 105-101 on Dec. 4. "That's something that you can't explain," Ariza said. For this game, that sounds about right. NOTES: Washington waived point guard Shelvin Mack. Recalled from the NBA Development League on Dec. 25, the former Butler star averaged 5.3 points and 3.3 assists in seven games this season. ... Thunder coach Scott Brooks stated his understanding of the Wizards' poor start to the season, having directed Oklahoma City through a 3-29 record at the beginning of 2008-09. "I know how Randy feels," Brooks said, referring to Wittman. "It's not easy, because you don't see a lot of sunshine. But, they have good players that work hard, and eventually it turns around. ... Kevin Durant helps, also."
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