Suddenly, Westbrook and Beal giving rising Wizards hope

Wizards guard Russell Westbrook fights for the ball with Trail Blazers guard Gary Trent Jr.

Don’t look now, but here come the Washington Wizards.

It’s true, as the Wizards have won four straight, capped off with Saturday night’s impressive 118-111 road win over the Portland Trail Blazers. Until Saturday, the Blazers had won six in a row.

But with Bradley Beal (37 points) and Russell Westbrook (27 points, 13 assists, 11 rebounds) suddenly developing some obvious chemistry, things are looking up.

The question with the Wizards (10-17) is who will step up in the frontcourt? The answer may be underrated second-year forward Rui Hachimura (17 points), who seems to improve with each week.

Yes, the Wizards are lacking depth and star power outside of Beal and Westbrook, but those two form one of the league’s top two or three backcourts when healthy and cohesive. That can take you places.

Wizards coach said Westbrook’s leadership and determination are playing a big role in setting a new tone.

“The guy is a championship player,” Brooks told FortyEightMinutes and other media. “How he prepares, how he talks to our guys, he gets them to be ready. His voice was loud in that first quarter. That’s what you want your leaders to do.”

Of course, even bigger tests await, as the Wizards visit the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday, the LA Clippers on Tuesday and the Denver Nuggets on Thursday.

But there appears to be a big difference between yesterday’s Wizards and the one that is taking the court today, A big part of that is the clear improvement on defense.

“It’s letting the other team know that we’re here, that we’re going to be physical, we’re going to stand our ground and make it tough for them,” Westbrook said. “I know we did a hell of a job of that tonight, I mean, they ended up shooting 35 percent from the field, we can’t ask for better defense than that. I thought we did a hell of a job.”

About the Author

Sam Amico
Sam Amico is the founder and senior writer of FortyEight Minutes. He has covered the NBA on a full-time basis for OutKick, Sports Illustrated and FOX Sports, and has been a regular contributor to CBS Sports, the Boston Herald and

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