WASHINGTON (AP) — Bradley Beal scored 33 points and the Washington Wizards pushed ahead with a late run to beat the Los Angeles Clippers 119-117 after All-Star Paul George was a late scratch Thursday night.
Russell Westbrook had 27 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds while Moe Wagner added 12 points as the Wizards snapped a two-game skid. Washington won eight of 11 heading into the All-Star break to move into the fringes of contention in the bunched Eastern Conference.
Beal, an All-Star and the NBA’s leading scorer, was 9 of 23 from the field but made 14 of his 15 free throws.
Westbrook, who is shooting a career-worst 60% from the foul line, missed a few late to keep the Clippers in the game until the end. He made 7 of 15 overall.
“I still trust him,” coach Scott Brooks said. “He’s working on it. We’re going to get it back. He does so many great things for us.”
Kawhi Leonard scored 22 points, Patrick Beverley had 17 and Ivica Zubac had 13 points and 13 rebounds. The Clippers have lost six of nine heading into the break but are still one of the top teams in the West.
George was listed as a starter but was replaced moments before tipoff due to dizziness. Reggie Jackson, who started on Tuesday in Boston for Leonard, finished with 12 points.
It was the second consecutive game in which the Clippers had a late scratch from an All-Star. Leonard sat out Tuesday’s loss in Boston with back spasms.
George, who scored 32 points in 28 minutes on Tuesday, has missed ten previous games this season, including one for right ankle soreness, two for health and safety protocols, and seven for right toe bone edema.
Clippers coach Tyronn Lue said he found about George right before the game.
Lue felt the turning point was on both sides of halftime as the Clippers went from leading 61-45 with 1:28 left in the second quarter to trailing 66-63 with 8:14 remaining in the third.
“Closing the second quarter was the biggest thing,” Lue said about a game that featured 19 lead changes and nine ties.
The Clippers led 106-102 after two free throws by Lou Williams with 4:36 left. Davis Bertans and Wagner made back-to-back 3-pointers, Beal made a foul-line jumper and Bertans added two free throws during a 11-0 run that gave Washington a 113-106 lead. Bertans finished with 11 points.
Clippers: F Marcus Morris was out with a concussion that he suffered in Tuesday at Boston. Morris had previously missed eight games this season with other issues. … Luke Kennard picked up a technical foul in the second quarter.
Wizards: Westbrook moved past Walt Bellamy into 42nd place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with a jumper in the second quarter. Westbrook now has 20,959 points.
SEAL THE DEAL
The stat sheet won’t reflect a game-sealing play by Westbrook. With Washington up 119-117 with 7 seconds left, Rui Hachimura missed a free throw, but Westbrook timed his run outside the 3-point line perfectly and tipped the ball to Beal, who held on as time expired. Had he been credited with the rebound, Westbrook would have finished with his 11th triple-double of the season.
“Just trying to get wins, pretty much,” Leonard said about the team’s goals for the second half. “Get some continuity, some chemistry, execution, trying to get these wins so we’ve got some carryover into the playoffs.”
All-Star team captains LeBron James and Kevin Durant drafted their squads during the game. Beal and Leonard will start for Team Durant while George will suit up for Team LeBron in Atlanta on Sunday.
Clippers: Host Golden State on March 11.
Wizards: Begin the second half of the season at Memphis on March 10.
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