WASHINGTON (AP) — Bradley Beal and John Wall reunited on the floor in the nation’s capital wearing different uniforms and with no fans to cheer their electrifying drives to the basket.
One thing remained the same: They continued to motivate each other to play their best.
Beal scored 37 points in an entertaining duel with his ex-teammate, and the Wizards beat the Rockets 131-119 on Monday night in Wall’s first game in Washington since being traded to Houston.
“Even tonight, we’re pushing each other, telling each other to be better, guarding each other. It’s just competitive. It’s just our nature,” Beal said. “It’s a beautiful thing. I’m definitely looking forward to competing against him for the rest of my career, as crazy as that may sound.”
Wall, traded in December for Russell Westbrook and a first-round pick, had season highs of 29 points and 11 assists for the Rockets, who were missing leading scorer Eric Gordon along with Victor Oladipo, Christian Wood and P.J. Tucker. Houston dropped its sixth straight.
Wall, the 2010 first-round pick who missed most of the previous two seasons with an Achilles tendon injury, took at least some satisfaction in showing the Wizards he hasn’t lost his speed or skill.
“They see it,” Wall said. “They’ve been seeing it all season.”
The Rockets were dealt another blow Monday. Center Ray Spalding suffered an Achilles tendon injury in just his second game with Houston, and coach Stephen Silas said “the prognosis is not good.”
“We’ll see what the tests bring tomorrow, but just off the initial (diagnosis), it didn’t seem like he’ll be playing anytime soon,” Silas added.
Westbrook had 16 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds for his sixth triple-double of the season — his first in a Wizards win — and 152nd of his career. But it was a largely inefficient performance from the former MVP, who shot 8 of 22 overall, 0 of 3 from 3-point range and airballed a 20-foot jumper. Westbrook played on back-to-back days for the first time this season.
“When I’m watching, I’m learning,” Westbrook said. “I don’t just sit there for kicks and giggles. I’m able to see my teammates in a different light, see different things and apply it when I get back on the floor.”
Davis Bertans added 18 points on 5-of-6 3-point shooting for Washington, which won consecutive games for the first time this season.
Houston kept it close against Washington’s league-worst defense before the Wizards wore down the Rockets, who had only 10 players dressed for the game. Washington finally started to pull away with an 11-2 run late in the third quarter.
Wall went to the bench early in that run. He returned with 7:28 left in the fourth quarter and the Rockets trailing by 13, and Houston could not get closer than eight points the rest of the way.
The Wizards played a video montage in tribute to Wall during a first-quarter timeout that highlighted Wall’s charitable efforts in Washington, which have continued since the trade.
Playing in an empty arena and without his mother, who died of cancer in December 2019, was not how Wall envisioned his return to the city where he spent the first decade of his career.
“It was difficult. I play for the fans. I play for the city. I’m an emotional and passionate person out there for 10 years. So you know I wanted to see those guys here and see them there to support me,” Wall said. “I also wanted to have my first game that I would have played back in D.C. to have my mom out there in the stands. She’s been with me for everything, and knowing she was not here, that was difficult.”
Rockets: Tucker’s streak of 267 consecutive games ended because of a left thigh contusion. The forward has played more games than anybody in the NBA since the 2012-13 season. “For him not to play, you know he’s pretty banged up. It was a tough conversation to have, but he was the one who was like, ‘Yeah, I just can’t do it. I can’t move on the floor,’” Silas said. … Gordon was out with a sore groin, Oladipo has a sprained right foot and Wood has a sprained right ankle. … Silas said his wife had no heat or power at their Houston home because of a winter storm that slammed Texas on Monday.
Wizards: Coach Scott Brooks said Westbrook felt healthy enough to play on consecutive days and wouldn’t predict his availability for future back-to-backs. … Ish Smith (strained right quad) missed a second straight game.
Rockets: At Philadelphia on Wednesday night.
Wizards: Host Denver on Wednesday night.
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