- The Washington Times
Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Bradley Beal didn’t score 50 points for a change. On Wednesday, the Washington Wizards didn’t need him to.

Beal scored 17 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter and set up reserve guard Jerome Robinson’s go-ahead 3-pointer as the Wizards held off the Brooklyn Nets, 110-106, for their first win since the All-Star break.

After the Wizards took a hefty halftime lead, the Nets outscored Washington 37-21 in the third quarter to close the gap. With the Wizards down by one with less than 15 seconds left, Beal was trapped near midcourt and heaved the ball to an open Robinson, who was acquired earlier this month from the Los Angeles Clippers.

Robinson knocked down his only three of the game, following it in with an icy stare.

“It was just to win the game. I guess that’s the definition of a Mamba Mentality, is to win the game,” Robinson said, referencing the late Kobe Bryant’s signature phrase. “And it’s big props to Brad, trusting his teammates. That tells you what kind of person he is.”

Robinson followed up the clutch shot by grabbing the rebound of the Nets’ last-ditch attempt with two seconds to go. Wizards coach Scott Brooks called it a “great few plays” by the second-year guard.

“Jerome didn’t hesitate,” Brooks said .”He had a tendency to hesitate and I’m telling them, ‘He who hesitates don’t make shots.’ I like that.”

The Wizards (21-34) snapped a three-game losing streak since returning from the break. In their last two, Beal set career scoring highs in consecutive games, first with 53 points against the Chicago Bulls, then with 55 against the Milwaukee Bucks — both in losing efforts.

The Wizards remained in ninth place in the weak Eastern Conference and gained ground on Brooklyn, which would be the seventh seed if the season was over.

“It’s huge and it gets us back on track for the road,” Robinson said. “We have got some tough ones on the road, but if we can keep going the way we are and keep pushing the pace like that, I think we will come out alright.”

Rui Hachimura made 6 of 10 shots for 17 points in his best shooting performance since returning from a groin injury. Davis Bertans added 14 points.

The undermanned Nets are without Kyrie Irving, who was ruled out for the remainder of the season last week due to arthroscopic shoulder surgery. Caris LeVert led Brooklyn with 34 points.

A 14-4 run while Beal rested in the first part of the second quarter helped Washington build a comfortable 18-point lead, which would become a 60-47 Wizards advantage at halftime.

But just six minutes and change into the third quarter, the lead dissipated. Early 3-pointers by Taurean Prince and Joe Harris helped Brooklyn’s cause while Washington missed seven shots and gave up three turnovers in the same span. The Nets took their first lead of the night in the last minute of the third on a Garrett Temple 3-pointer and led 84-81 after three quarters.

The Wizards also struggled to stop DeAndre Jordan, who owned the paint with 12 of his 16 points coming in the second half, and Spencer Dinwiddie, who made key buckets down the stretch.

Beal’s heroics in the fourth included three 3-pointers, including a corner three that tied the game at 103 with a minute to go. But after the teams traded free throws, Dinwiddie blew by two defenders for a driving layup that put Brooklyn up 106-105, leading to Robinson’s big moment.

“I remember the coaches were telling him [not to hesitate] and you have to shoot if you’re open,” Hachimura said of Robinson. “We know he’s a good shooter. The last minutes, the last play, he didn’t hesitate, that’s why I think he made it.”

Robinson, a first-round pick by the Clippers out of Boston College in 2018, came to the Wizards in a deal that moved Isaiah Thomas out of Washington. Just seven games into his tenure with a new team, he got to revel in being the hero.

“It’s a great experience to have with these guys,” Robinson said. “That’s why I’m smiling now. It’s just an awesome experience. Especially having a lot of young guys and everybody wants their moment, and to have that with these guys on a new team, it just builds off of that.”

The Wizards play again Friday at the Utah Jazz.

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