Beal scored half of his overall point total in the third quarter, and he only needed one guy to give him the motivation he needed.
“Yeah, Josh Okogie,” Beal said in response to a question as to why he went off in that period. “He got me going talking trash, and I talk with the best of them too. So it was cool with me.”
Cue the Michael Jordan “I took that personally” meme here as many times as you please.
The Wizards were down 67-65 with about eight minutes left in the third, but it was Beal who stepped up to lead Washington to a 22-6 run that helped them pull away for the rest of the game. Beal either scored or assisted on every point during that run.
Shortly after that spurt, Beal was subbed out for Russell Westbrook, as Davis Bertans and Westbrook teamed up to keep the Wizards’ surge going. Bertans drilled three 3-pointers with two of them coming off feeds from Westbrook, and Westbrook also found Rui Hachimura up the court for a one-handed slam after intercepting a pass attempt near the half-court line.
“I feel like we’re kind of bringing together everything we’ve been talking about at the beginning of the season,” Bertans said.
At a time where the Wizards are looking to keep their comfortable lead intact heading into the final period of play, it’s always good to see your point guard getting his other teammates involved.
Westbrook finished with yet another triple-double – 19 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists. Bertans added 19 points. Garrison Mathews contributed 18 points and nine rebounds.
This win gives Washington seven wins in their last eight games, with their only loss in that stretch coming against the Los Angeles Clippers, which is a team many people expect to make a deep playoff run later this year. This recent stretch of games has the Wizards sitting just 1.5 games out of a playoff spot and 2.5 out of the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference with plenty of time left in the season.
“It’s big for everybody, confidence-wise,” Beal said of their recent stretch. “But at the same time, we still know we haven’t done much. We haven’t done anything. That’s what I keep telling our guys.”
It’s good to see Beal having higher expectations for his group of guys, and if the Wizards can keep a non-complacent mindset, then we can very well see them in the playoffs come this May.