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Russell Westbrook Leads Thunder Past John Wall, Wizards; Bradley Beal Drops 41

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistJanuary 26, 2018

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK- JANUARY 25: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder reacts during the game against the Washington Wizards on January 25, 2018 at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Layne Murdoch Sr./NBAE via Getty Images)
Layne Murdoch/Getty Images

Two weeks ago, the Oklahoma City Thunder (28-20) were toiling in frustration on the heels of a third straight loss. 

Fast forward to Thursday night, and those woes felt like a distant memory as they defeated the Washington Wizards 121-112 at Chesapeake Energy Arena for their league-leading sixth straight win. 

As has often been the case, Russell Westbrook captained OKC's continued surge.

The reigning MVP finished with a season-high 46 points (19-of-29 shooting), six rebounds and six assists, and he erupted for 21 points in the fourth quarter to help the Thunder pull away after the Wizards erased a 14-point halftime deficit and knotted the score at 68 with 4:26 remaining in the third quarter. 

Westbrook was especially potent in the paint—where he repeatedly wreaked havoc on the rim: 

And even when he wasn't throwing it down with authority, Westbrook knifed through Washington's defense and flashed a flair for the spectacular to keep Bradley Beal and Co. at arm's length: 

NBA on TNT @NBAonTNT

If you're missing this game we feel sorry for you... https://t.co/0QyPiPwVG1

Speaking of Beal, the All-Star sharpshooter was dialed in as he tried to prevent the Wizards from dropping their second straight game. 

In 45 minutes, Beal tallied 41 points (15-of-26 shooting), 12 rebounds and seven assists.

According to Basketball Reference, Beal became the first non-big man to hit those statistical benchmarks in a game this season. The only others to do so have been Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid and New Orleans Pelicans center DeMarcus Cousins

Beal also accounted for six of the Wizards' 16 made threes as they used a flurry of long-range conversions to chip away at the Thunder's double-digit halftime lead. 

StatMuse @statmuse

Despite a disappointing season so far for the Wizards, Bradley Beal is averaging career-highs 24.0 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.8 assists. https://t.co/I1PUsq0jGY

John Wall (21 points, 12 assists) added five triples of his own, but the Wizards had a tough time keeping pace on a night when they were outscored 60-40 in the paint and committed 23 turnovers that resulted in 36 Thunder points. 

Having now lost four of their last five games, the Wizards will try to steady the ship Saturday against the Atlanta Hawks before they host the Thunder in a rematch at Capital One Arena on Tuesday. 

Prior to hitting the nation's capital, Oklahoma City will attempt to keep its winning streak alive Saturday and Sunday during a back-to-back against the Detroit Pistons and Philadelphia 76ers. 

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