Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook came to the District via trade this offseason to fill in for John Wall, a player recognized by many as arguably one of the best point guards the organization has ever fielded.

The Wizards (4-12) came away with a 149-146 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Jan. 31 after suffering a four-game losing streak, but the real story was how effective Westbrook was leading the show as the Wizards are fighting from the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

Westbrook led the team in scoring (41), rebounds (10), and assists (8), while guard Bradley Beal poured in 37 points, but the man of many nicknames, including “Beastbrook,” equated his success to the leadership role he has embraced as a team player by letting the game come to him.

“Leadership shows out when you win,” Westbrook said about his role on this team. “Guys feel better about themselves and are confident about their game, and that’s what I look for … I feel like I’m put into this position for a reason. Tonight we played at a high level and now we gotta get ready for the next one.”

Being undermanned and recovering from a five-game postponement, Washington is showing resiliency and a mutual bond that is translating to the floor.

Six players scored in double figures against Brooklyn, and the team collectively cleaned the glass by corralling a game-high 11 offensive rebounds while scoring 72 points in the paint.

Wizards head coach Scott Brooks bellowed out a sigh of relief after the win.

“It was the first game all year I had a White Claw,” Brooks jokingly said after the game. “I wanted to enjoy it [the win]; this was a good feeling. We fought hard and had nothing right going for us in that first quarter other than us competing. We’ve done it all year, but the basketball gods gave us a break tonight.”

Though Beal is routinely questioned if he wants to stay in Washington, the former University of Florida product has focused on making the Wizards better down the stretch. This season, Beal has scored the most points per game (34.9) and boasts a career-high in rebounds per game (5.1).

However, not all that glitters is gold.

Washington forward Davis Bertans signed a five-year, $80 million deal only to average under 11 points per game and is experiencing career lows in 3-point percentage (32.7), field goal percentage (34.4), free throw percentage (77.4) and blocks per game (0.2).

With that massive deal, Washington is still waiting for more production out of their wing, and it has been a rough stretch for the Latvian star.

In contrast, Westbrook and Beal rank in the top three in NBA scoring. Still, many Wizards woes have currently resided in the defensive department as they sit last in opponent shooting percentage at more than 64 percent.

Despite that, Washington will embark on a gruesome four-game road trip, including taking on the Miami heat in a two-game slate, then the Charolette Hornets and finally ending with the Chicago Bulls on Feb. 8.

Washington will come back home to take on the Toronto Raptors on Feb. 10, hoping to keep their winning ways going behind a healthy and rejuvenated Westbrook and solid bench play, which accounted for 50 points against the Nets.

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WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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