Coming off a stunning 125-121 win at Utah on Monday, the Wizards have gone 3-2 on their 10-day, coast-to-coast venture and have a chance to record four victories on the same trip for the first time since March of 2017.
That latter successful run featured four straight wins, including a 130-122 overtime affair at Sacramento. Bradley Beal (38) and John Wall (25) combined for 63 points in that triumph.
Beal is now supported by the more well-rounded Russell Westbrook, who has recorded triple-doubles in all five games of the trip so far, including a 25-point, 14-rebound, 14-assist effort against the Jazz.
The NBA record for most consecutive triple-doubles is 11, set by Westbrook in 2019. He has run his career total up to 169, 12 shy of Oscar Robertson’s all-time mark.
Westbrook had a triple-double, one of his league-leading 23 this season, when the Wizards lost 121-119 at home to the Kings last month. He had 26 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in a game in which Beal totaled 29 points.
Sacramento won that game mostly on the strength of its 3-point shooting. Buddy Hield and Tyrese Haliburton hit three apiece as the Kings held a 30-12 advantage in points from beyond the arc over the Wizards, who misfired on 21 of their 25 attempts.
In snapping Utah’s 24-game home winning streak, the Wizards made nine 3-pointers on 19 attempts (47.4 percent). But they also got 28 points, 11 rebounds and a great defensive effort from an unexpected source — their new, three-headed center monster — and that made the difference.
Daniel Gafford, acquired from Chicago at the trade deadline, led the Washington big men — a group that includes Alex Len and Brook Lopez — with 15 points.
“They all give us (something) a little bit different,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks explained after the win. “Gafford gives us a lot … different. His minutes and his efficiency have been really good, because he keeps it simple. Gets something at the rim, catches lobs, runs the floor, contests shots.”
Both the Wizards and Kings are seeking a backdoor in their respective conference’s playoffs. Washington has used its three-win trip to gain ground in the East, while Sacramento, following a five-game winning streak, has dropped seven in a row to fall behind in the West.
The Kings have dropped three straight at home, including 113-101 to Detroit in their most recent Sacramento date last Thursday.
The schedule and new California state regulations give the Kings a chance to reverse their course. Four of their next six opponents are currently under .500, and they will be allowed to have fans in attendance at home games beginning next Tuesday against Minnesota.
“We’ve got to buckle down and put an end to this,” Kings coach Luke Walton insisted after Monday’s 117-110 loss at New Orleans. “We have to fight through this, and we will.”
–Field Level Media