Russell Westbrook helped lead the Washington Wizards to the playoffs. It was a success because the All-Star delivered what he told the team in the middle of the season. It was in the middle of the season after a loss that morale and hope were fading, but Westbrook gave a passionate speech and vowed that Washington would make the postseason.

On Thursday, the All-Star made good on his word by helping power the Wizards to a steamroll over the Indiana Pacers to send the team to the playoffs as the eighth seed. The Wizards became the first team to make the playoffs after being 15 games under .500 during the season since the Phoenix Suns in 1996-97.

“We were struggling, and everybody was down on the outside, and we had to figure out a way to knuckle up and make the playoffs,” Westbrook said about his vow to the team. “Simple as that. I didn’t care what happened in the previous games. We had to figure ourselves out, look at ourselves in the mirror, starting with myself.”

Washington led by 14 at the end of the first half of the game. That 14 then became a big 31-point lead at the end of the third quarter. In the third quarter, the team exploded for 48 points. At one point the Wizards went on a 30-14 run and made 15-of-20 shots.


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Westbrook scored 18 points, dished out 15 assists and hauled in eight rebounds in the Wizards’ 142-114 win over Indiana. Fellow superstar teammate Bradley Beal added 25 points, four assists and five rebounds. The team as a whole played great basketball in front of their 5,333 fans at home. “Probably the most beautiful thing I’ve seen us do all year,” Beal said of the team’s win. “I haven’t been in the playoffs in three years. I’m definitely happy to be back.”

One month ago, it seemed certain that the Wizards would be heading to the lottery pick, but the team managed to turn it around to make the postseason. The Wizards will be gearing up to play the Philadelphia 76ers in what will be a hard-fought series.

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