“We gutted the win out,” Wizards Coach Scott Brooks said. “They always say when you go on a long 11- or 12-day trip, like 8,000 miles, that first home game is tough. And we’ve got back-to-backs, but it was great to get a win tonight.
“We’re gutty. We’re scrappy. We’re going to continue to fight. We got a lot of things thrown at us. That was a tough trip to come back and play a game. I was on West Coast time last night. I didn’t want to go to bed until like 3 o’clock in the morning. I’m sure the players were the same way. . . . It was a tough day to get in. You were kind of like in a fog. A couple guys didn’t handle it well, but a couple guys came through, and that’s what a team is.”
The Wizards (22-33) used an 11-2 run to close regulation to force the extra period, a five-minute stretch in which Westbrook took over. The guard scored 10 of the Wizards’ 12 points in the extra session and was fouled on a jumper in the closing moments by Pelicans star Zion Williamson, sending him to the line with the game knotted at 115.
Pelicans Coach Stan Van Gundy challenged the call, but officials upheld the foul, and Westbrook sank both free throws to seal the win.
Westbrook scored a game-high 36 points to go along with 15 rebounds and nine assists. Bradley Beal endured a difficult night, making just 10 of 29 from the field while missing all nine of his three-point attempts, but still finished with 30 points. Daniel Gafford scored a season-high 18 points.
“Russell made big plays,” Brooks said. “Defensively, he was switching off on some really good, talented players and getting stops. Brad didn’t have his best shooting night, but he kept playing and competing.”
The Wizards finished 4 for 27 from beyond the arc.
Sharpshooter Davis Bertans did not play because of personal reasons.
“(Westbrook) played great, obviously,” Brooks said. “He made big shots down the stretch. It’s crazy that we’re 4 for 27 and he made three threes. He’s a winner. We say it all the time. We’re building something good, and he’s going to be a big part of our success.”
Brandon Ingram scored at least 27 points for the fourth straight game and finished with 34. Williamson scored 21 after notching just six in the first half.
The Wizards took a 62-61 lead into the break in a game in which defense was an afterthought for most of the first half. Washington shot 53.2 percent in the first 24 minutes with Beal and Westbrook both struggling — they were each 4 for 10 from the field at the break.
The Pelicans shot 47.5 percent and rode the hot start of Ingram, who scored 24 in the first half in just about every conceivable way.
Washington led by 13 in the first half, but the Pelicans closed the half on a 19-10 run to cut the lead to one.
“That was a testament to my teammates. I told them that during the game, after the game,” Beal said. “We probably wouldn’t have been able to close out a game like this earlier in the year. That just shows our growth, our maturity.
“That was a special team. They’re in the same boat that we’re in. We just willed ourselves to a victory tonight.”