Wednesday's NBA playoffs: Wizards rally late to whiz by Hawks

Howard Fendrich
Associated Press

Washington — Through the first three quarters of Game 2 of the Washington Wizards’ opening playoff series, Bradley Beal made only 6 of 18 shots. And that came after shooting just 9 for 21 in Game 1.

Did all of those misses bother him? Not one bit. Instead, he relied on a silly play on words that he says his agent taught him.

“It’s something I always tell myself: I don’t know what a ‘miss’ is. A ‘miss’ is a ‘lady,’” Beal explained with a smile. “Everybody’s confident in me. Coach is more than confident in me. So I just rise up and shoot it.”

In a rough-and-tumble, foul-filled game, Beal and backcourt mate John Wall took over in the fourth quarter Wednesday night, combining to score 20 of Washington’s last 21 points in a 109-101 victory over the Atlanta Hawks that gave the Wizards a 2-0 lead in their Eastern Conference series.

Beal finished with 31 points, 16 on 6-of-9 shooting in the final period.

“He’s a franchise guy, with me, also on this team. We need him to be the scorer for us,” Wall said. “We don’t care if he shoots the ball 30 times.”

Wall earned chants of “M-V-P!” while contributing 32 points and nine assists, including a dish to Beal for his key 3-pointer with 38 seconds remaining that sealed the win for the hosts. As soon as Beal let the ball fly, Wall raised both arms in celebration.

“When he shoots it,” Wall said of that shot, “it’s game over.”

Washington, which trailed 78-74 entering the final period, won despite a total of only seven points from starting forwards Markieff Morris and Otto Porter Jr., who were both in foul trouble early.

“It was a tricky game to coach,” said Washington’s Scott Brooks, who avoided postgame criticism of the officiating, joking that he already knew he would be getting a text message from his daughter about a $2,000 fine he drew for a technical foul.

Game 3 is Saturday at Atlanta.

Paul Millsap led the Hawks with 27 points and 10 rebounds, and Dennis Schroder scored 23 points. But Dwight Howard had only seven rebounds, half his Game 1 total, and six points. Afterward, Howard responded to three consecutive questions from reporters with “I don’t know,” then replied “No” to one, before going back to “I don’t know.”

After Washington won the series opener over the weekend, Millsap bemoaned aloud about how things went, saying: “The difference in the game is we were playing basketball and they were playing MMA.”

That became a talking point during the off days, and perhaps affected the way Game 2 was called. It was hardly akin to a mixed martial arts bout, but the officials sure seemed determined to use their whistles upon seeing anything resembling a foul.

There were 29 personal fouls in the opening 24 minutes, 55 for the game. In the third quarter, many voices in the sellout crowd of 20,356 joined in full-throated chants of derision directed at the officials.

Western Conference

(At) Houston 115, Oklahoma City 111: James Harden scored 35 points and the Rockets overcame 51 points from Russell Westbrook in a triple-double, clawing back from a double-digit deficit to take a 2-0 lead in the first-round Western Conference playoff series.

Westbrook set a franchise playoff scoring record and added 13 assists and 10 rebounds in the most points ever scored in a postseason triple-double. It was the sixth career playoff triple-double for Westbrook, who had an NBA-record 42 in the regular season.

But the Rockets contained him long enough in the fourth quarter to surge ahead, then hold on.

Game 3 is Friday night in Oklahoma City.

The game was tied before Houston scored 10 straight points with 3-pointers from Harden, Patrick Beverley and Eric Gordon to make it 114-104 with 1:22 remaining.

(At) Golden State 110, Portland 81: Stephen Curry scored 19 points on an off night, JaVale McGee sparked Golden State off the bench with 15 points, and the short-handed Warriors beat Portland in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series without injured leading scorer Kevin Durant.

McGee shined on a night none of the usual stars found their consistent shooting strokes. The backup big man made all seven of his field-goal attempts and delivered several more of his signature alley-oop dunks as Durant watched with a strained left calf he hurt in the playoff opener Sunday.

Draymond Green (Michigan State) had another fantastic all-around game, getting 12 rebounds, 10 assists, six points and three more blocked shots after swatting five in Sunday’s win.

Curry went 6 for 18 and also had six assists and six rebounds. Klay Thompson was 6 of 17 with 16 points and CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard were hardly were the dynamic scoring duo for Portland they’d been combining for 75 points only three days earlier.