RUSSELL Westbrook collected 35 points, a season-high 21 assists and 14 rebounds to fuel the host Washington Wizards to a 132-124 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Monday.
Westbrook made 14 of 26 shots from the field, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range. The triple-double was Westbrook’s NBA-leading 16th of the season and second in as many games.
Rui Hachimura had 26 points and eight rebounds and Chandler Hutchison added 18 points off the bench for the Wizards, who played without NBA leading scorer Bradley Beal (right hip contusion). Raul Neto scored 15 points off the bench to help Washington win its second in a row after losing eight of its previous nine.
All was not rosy for the Wizards, however. Recent acquisition Daniel Gafford rolled his ankle and left the court in a wheelchair.
Domantas Sabonis recorded 35 points and 11 rebounds and Malcolm Brogdon added 26 points for the Pacers, who were foiled in their bid to win three in a row for the first time since capturing the first three games of the season.
Indiana scored nine straight points to secure a 116-110 lead with 5:47 remaining in the fourth quarter before Washington countered with a 22-8 run to end the game. Westbrook drained a stepback jumper, a layup and two 3-pointers during the pivotal surge.
Hutchison made three baskets to help Washington bridge the third and fourth quarter with a 9-0 run and claim a 97-92 lead. Indiana quickly forged a tie after Myles Turner sank a 3-pointer and Edmond Sumner added a pair of free throws.
Brogdon drained three 3-pointers en route to scoring 11 points to stake Indiana to a 28-24 lead at the end of the first quarter. Hachimura scored eight points to pace the Wizards, who misfired on all four attempts from 3-point range.
The teams continued their tight battle throughout the second quarter, with Sabonis’ dunk, hook shot and free throw allowing the Pacers to secure a 58-57 lead at half time.
2021 NBA DRAFT
Meanwhile, with the modified National Basketball Association (NBA) season scheduled to run deep into July, the league announced Monday that the 2021 NBA Draft will be held on July 29.
The league also announced that the draft lottery will be held on June 22, with the NBA combine set for June 21-27.
The current NBA regular season runs to May 16, with the NBA Finals due to be completed by July 22.
The deadline for players to apply for early entry for this year’s draft is May 30, and those who opt to withdraw from early entry must do so by July 19.
Setting the date roughly a month later than the traditional June NBA draft, the league has yet to determine whether the draft (with the first round televised in prime time) will be virtual or in-person, owing to the changing parameters surrounding the coronavirus pandemic. — Reuters