Westbrook, Wizards punch playoff ticket

Russell Westbrook scored 18 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished 15 assists as the Washington Wizards steamrolled the visiting Indiana Pacers 142-115 on Thursday night in the final Eastern Conference play-in contest to reach the playoffs.

Bradley Beal added 25 points, five rebounds and four assists as Washington earned the No. 8 seed and captured their first postseason berth since the 2017-18 season. The Wizards will face the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers in the first round, beginning on Sunday in Philadelphia.

The setback eliminated the Pacers and ended the franchise’s streak of five straight playoff appearances.

Malcolm Brogdon scored 24 points and Domantas Sabonis recorded a triple-double of 19 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists before fouling out for Indiana.

Indiana Pacers

Points Rebounds Assists
Doug McDermott 13 2 1
Oshae Brissett 10 6 0
Domantas Sabonis 19 11 10
Justin Holiday 6 3 3
Malcolm Brogdon 24 2 4

Beal made four 3-pointers and also had five rebounds and four assists while playing 28 minutes. He sat out the final 15-plus minutes of the lopsided contest to rest his strained left hamstring.

Washington’s Rui Hachimura scored 18 points, Daniel Gafford had 15 points, 13 rebounds and five blocked shots, and Raul Neto added 14 points. Anthony Gill had 10 points.

Washington Wizards

Points Rebounds Assists
Raul Neto 14 3 0
Rui Hachimura 18 4 2
Daniel Gafford 15 13 0
Bradley Beal 25 5 4
Russell Westbrook 18 8 15

The Wizards went 3-0 in the regular season against the Pacers while averaging 139.7 points.

Washington was clicking again Thursday, shooting 58.1 percent from the field, including 14 of 28 from 3-point range. The Wizards held a 52-40 rebounding edge.

Doug McDermott and Kelan Martin added 13 points apiece for the Pacers, who shot 41 percent from the field and were 15 of 41 (36.6 percent) from behind the arc. Caris LeVert again sat out due to health and safety protocols.

The score was tied at 34 early in the second quarter when the Wizards broke it open with 16 consecutive points. Robin Lopez scored six points during the burst, including the inside hoop that capped it with 6:49 left in the half.

Washington led 66-52 at the break. The lead was 17 after Brogdon made two free throws for Indiana with 6:58 remaining in the third quarter before the Wizards blitzed the Pacers 17-4 over the next 2:51 to assure they were headed to the playoffs.

Beal converted a three-point play and drained a 3-pointer in a span of 28 seconds to push the lead to 25. He drilled another trey to end the spurt and give Washington a 98-68 advantage with 4:07 left in the period.

The lead reached 32 later in the third before the Wizards took a 114-83 lead into the final stanza. Washington’s biggest lead was 38.