Wizards Notes: Beating LeBron, Team Defense, Westbrook’s Status

Russell Westbrook - photo via the Washington Wizards

As an undergrad at Temple University, I used to play rec basketball pretty regularly and despite being as tall as Kyle Lowry, I frequently banged in the paint, out-smarting and maneuvering larger opponents with fundamentals that Tim Duncan would applaud. During my senior year, there was one run where my team went up against guys from the Temple football team. I did alright but I was pretty beat up and the next day was the first day of my life when I said to myself “I feel old.”

With the Wizards on the West Coast, I had another “I feel old” moment, nearly falling asleep after Scott Brook’s pregame press conference and almost missing the contest in Los Angeles. That’s never happened to me before, though good thing, as the rejuvenated Wizards came back from 17 to beat the Lakers in what is probably their most impressive win of the season.

Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook took over late, though they got nice contributions from Deni Avdija, who scored all of his eight of his points in the fourth quarter, Robin Lopez, who’s quietly having his best season in quite some time, and Raul Neto, who had two key steals in the contest.

On defense, this looks like a brand new club, led by Rui Hachimura. Scott Brooks emphasized that Hachimura is still growing as a player (he hasn’t even played 82 career NBA games), though the second-year pro is impressing the coaching staff.

“He’s the only guy on our team who can guard one through five,” Brooks said postgame (the Wizards had some technical issues in the Staples Center postgame, making for an even later night, and something that limited Brooks’ questions postgame).

Someone who definitely doesn’t feel old: LeBron James. The MVP frontrunner was one rebound short of his fourth triple-double of the season in 43 minutes of action (31/9/13). Although with the team continuing to slide without Anthony Davis, perhaps the Lakers should try to give him some rest with the bigger picture in mind.

More From Washington

  • Westbrook has been taking fewer threes recently and he was asked about why: “Well, I can move and jump now, so there you go.”
  • Before the contest, Brooks was asked about Westbrook playing against the Clippers on Tuesday; he was non-committal. Westbrook has only suited up in one back-to-back this season.
  • Beal said the Wizards fifth-straight win feels “different,” adding that the team still has areas to improve. Beal’s wifi also cut out mid-postgame interview. Beal was a good sport about it, waiting around for it to come back on.

About the Author

Chris Crouse
As a co-owner of FortyEightMinutes.com, Chris Crouse wears many hats, including editor and marketing director. He previously covered sports business at CNBC and he has covered the NBA for various publications, including SLAM Magazine and Hoops Rumors, in addition to working on the business side of media.

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