The Brooklyn Nets had led the Washington Wizards by as much as 18, back in the first quarter, when Sunday night’s game looked like a blowout in progress. But the Nets simply will not play defense, no one can make them do it, and these awful, hilarious, doomed Wizards, God bless them, can score buckets.
Specifically, Bradley Beal can score buckets. Russell Westbrook cannot really score buckets anymore—in fact, this season few NBA players have been quite as putrid at that end of the floor as the former MVP and two-time scoring champ—but last night, anyway, he was scoring buckets. I guess Ish Smith and Moritz Wagner also scored some buckets, but it’s the Wizards, so let’s just focus on Beal and Westbrook.
Brooklyn still held a 146-141 lead (these two teams really do not play absolutely any defense, man) when Rui Hachimura inbounded the ball to Beal under Washington’s basket with 12.3 seconds remaining and the Wizards out of timeouts. This isn’t exactly a done-deal type of situation, but it’s the next closest thing. Assuming the absence of a freak four-point play, typically the leading team would inbound the ball with a three- or two-point lead and maybe eight or nine seconds left on the clock. Then it’d make some free throws as a formality.
This should be the perfect setup for the Nets: They don’t have to play defense at all! In fact, they could have erred on the side of not trying to play defense, lest they commit a foul that stops the clock. The Nets can literally just let the Wizards do whatever here, they can even give up a quick bucket, so long as they follow it by simply completing a successful inbound pass. They’d already scored 146 points. That’s a lot of successful inbound passes. This should be a very simp—
Joe Harris, no!
Beal strolled in and made a 30-foot three-pointer over the outstretched arm of Bruce Brown. Then Brooklyn’s Joe Harris, needing only to complete a simple inbound pass to the 7-foot, 87-percent free-throw shooter Kevin Durant—and with five long seconds, two timeouts, and freedom to roam the entire baseline to figure out how to do it—didn’t even bother to completely gather the ball or look up at what was happening in front of him before he farted a low, off-target chest pass behind a cutting Durant and directly to Washington’s Garrison Mathews (I looked it up), who swung the ball directly to Russell Westbrook, who promptly shot and made the game-winning three.
The Nets actually got one more crack at the win after this. The doofus Wizards fell asleep on—what else—an inbound pass, and allowed Brooklyn’s Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot a minimally contested, point-blank layup with around two seconds left on the clock. He bricked it. That time the Nets used Kyrie Irving as the inbounder, and stationed Joe Harris out near halfcourt, farther from the ball than literally anybody else.
Wizards head coach Scott Brooks celebrated the victory with a hard seltzer. As punishment, Joe Harris should have to drink three.