By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — 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.
∫ Low-key tribute: 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.”
∫ Tip-ins: 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.
Jazz 134, 76ers 123
SALT LAKE CITY — Jordan Clarkson scored a season-high 40 points to power streaking Utah past Philadelphia in a matchup of conference leaders despite a career-best 42 points from Ben Simmons.
Clarkson hit a career-high eight 3-pointers and Donovan Mitchell added 24 points to help the Jazz overcome an early 14-point deficit. Utah (23-5) has won eight straight games and 19 of 20. Joe Ingles added 20 points for the Jazz.
Philadelphia was minus big man Joel Embiid, a late scratch because of back tightness.
Simmons had 12 assists and nine rebounds. He easily topped his previous best of 34 points set on Dec. 7, 2019. Tobias Harris had a season-high 36 points for the Sixers.
Nets 136, Kings 125
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Kyrie Irving scored a season-high 40 points, James Harden had his fifth triple-double with Brooklyn and the Nets beat Sacramento as injured Kevin Durant watched from the bench.
Irving went 15 of 22 and made nine of the Nets’ franchise-record 27 3-pointers. Harden had 29 points, 14 assists and 13 rebounds, his ninth straight game with a double-double. The club record is 10.
Hassan Whiteside had 26 points and 16 rebounds for the Kings. De’Aaron Fox added 19 points and eight assists.
Bulls 120, Pacers 112, OT
INDIANAPOLIS — Zach LaVine scored 12 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter to help Chicago force overtime, and the Bulls then pulled away from Indiana.
Chicago had lost 10 straight against Indiana and eight straight on the road in the series.
Domantas Sabonis scored 25 points and Malcolm Brogdon had 23 for the Pacers, who had won two in a row.
Warriors 129, Cavaliers 98
SAN FRANCISCO — Stephen Curry scored 36 points in three quarters and Golden State routed Cleveland.
Draymond Green tied his career high with 16 assists as the Warriors sent the Cavaliers to their eighth straight loss.
Collin Sexton led the Cavaliers with 23 points. Cleveland shot 38.9 percent from the floor and was winless on its five-game road trip.
Clippers 125, Heat 118
LOS ANGELES — Marcus Morris had season highs of 32 points and six 3-pointers, and the Clippers beat Miami for their fourth straight victory.
The Clippers won without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, who were out for the second straight night because of injuries. The Clippers have won eight of 11.
Jimmy Butler had 30 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists for the Heat. Bam Adebayo added 27 points and 12 rebounds, and reserve Tyler Herro scored 27 points.
Ivica Zubac added 22 points for the Clippers. Lou Williams had 18 points and 10 assists, and two-way player Amir Coffey had a season-high 15 points and a career-high five 3-pointers.