Despite impressive performances by Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook, The Washington Wizards came up short in their regular-season debut on Wednesday, falling to the Philadelphia 76ers, 113-107.
With a ten-point lead at the end of the third quarter, the Washington Wizards looked to be rolling past an extremely talented Philadelphia 76ers squad. Newly acquired Wizards point guard Russell Westbrook had already achieved a triple-double, superstar Bradley Beal had been finding mid-range shots with ease all night, and the Latvian Laser was fresh off of a 3-point barrage in the second quarter. Despite this ten-point cushion and a boatload of momentum entering the final frame, the Wizards simply could not stop Joel Embiid late in the fourth.
During the last 12 minutes of the game, Embiid had 15 of his 29 points and the 76ers exploded for FORTY points altogether. That was enough to sink the Wizards by a score of 113-107. But there’s still a lot of basketball to be played this season. Here’s what we learned from Washington’s regular-season opener.
The Russell Westbrook Effect
There’s a new point guard in town, and his name is Russell Westbrook. Finishing with 21 points, 15 assists, and 11 rebounds, Westbrook became the first Wizard ever with a triple-double in their franchise debut. Included in his explosive arsenal were impressive finishes at the rim, lobs to center Thomas Bryant, and an overall intensity that seemed to translate to the rest of the squad throughout the contest. As NBA fans have come to expect when watching Westbrook throughout his career, Westbrook brought attitude and fire to the District in his first outing in the red, white, and blue. After a powerful drive to the hoop to tie the game with an “and-one” finger-roll midway through the fourth quarter, Westbrook barked at former Wizard Dwight Howard on the bench, puffing his chest and high-fiving his teammates on the way to the free-throw line. Just seconds later, Westbrook handed the ball off to Bradley Beal, who splashed a three to give Washington a late lead.
Although his debut was promising, Westbrook still seems to have rust to shake off as he transitions to his new squad. He committed six total turnovers in his first regular-season start in D.C. and missed 13 of 22 shots. Despite these miscues, Westbrook’s introduction to the District was generally a positive one.