WASHINGTON (AP) — Bradley Beal scored 34 points, Russell Westbrook added 19 as part of his NBA-leading 10th triple-double, and the Washington Wizards used a 44-point third quarter to pull away for a 128-112 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night.
Westbrook added 14 rebounds and 12 assists for the Wizards, who have won seven of eight to move back into playoff contention following a 6-17 start.
“It’s big for everybody, confidence-wise,” Beal said of the recent surge. “But at the same time, we still know we haven’t done much. We haven’t done anything. That’s what I keep telling our guys.”
Davis Bertans scored 12 of his 19 points in the third quarter, including four of his five 3-pointers. Garrison Mathews scored 18 points in Washington’s first home game following a four-game West Coast trip.
“I thought he had some great looks in the first half, but shooters have to keep shooting,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said of Bertans. “He made some shots that kind of broke it open for us.”
Karl-Anthony Towns had 23 points and 11 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who dropped their seventh straight, matching their longest slide of the season.
Anthony Edwards added 21 points for NBA-worst Minnesota, as starting guard Malik Beasley served the first of a 12-game suspension.
The Timberwolves were in it until Washington’s third-quarter outburst, which included an extended 35-12 run.
The Wizards scored nine straight to start it, with Westbrook’s running dunk and Beal’s 3-pointer from the top of the key giving them a 72-67 lead and coaxing newly installed Minnesota coach Chris Finch into a timeout.
“When teams make a run on you, you’ve got to fight back,” said Finch, following his third game in charge. “That’s what we have to be. We need to learn how to be a little more resilient right now.”
It was a five-point game before the Wizards made six 3-pointers over a 4:20 stretch. Bertans’ last 3 of the quarter, off Westbrook’s 11th assist of the game, made it 98-79 with just under a minute left.
“I feel like we’re kind of bringing together everything we’ve been talking about at the beginning of the season,” Bertans said.
Timberwolves: Dropped to 3-5 in the opener of back-to-back games. … G Jarrett Culver (ankle) returned after a 17-game absence, though he was available for Wednesday’s loss in Chicago, Finch said. … Jarred Vanderbilt had 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Wizards: Improved to 3-6 in the opener of back-to-back games. … Westbrook nearly achieved his triple-double by halftime, entering the break with 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. He also received his 11th technical foul of the season with 9:36 to play in the game … Bertans (knee) returned after missing Thursday’s win in Denver.
CENTER OF ATTENTION
Wizards Center Thomas Bryant, who suffered a season-ending ACL tear in January, made his first appearance on the bench since the injury, to the delight of teammates.
“That was definitely the best part about the first half — just seeing him in the locker room,” Brooks said. “I was walking on the court with about four minutes to go (until tip-off.) Gave him a great big hug. He’s definitely missed and loved by all of us.”
“LIKE FOR LIKE?”
With Beasley serving the first of a 12-game suspension related to a guilty plea to a felony count of threats of violence, guard Josh Okogie returned to the starting lineup. Finch won’t ask anyone will serve as a “like-for-like” replacement for Beasley, who is averaging 20.5 points and just over 33 minutes a contest.
“We don’t expect any one person to come in and fill that void,” Finch said. “We’re going to put out lineups out there that suit ourselves to start, and then go from there.”
Timberwolves: Return home to face Phoenix on Sunday.
Wizards: Visit Boston on Sunday.
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