It looked bleak for the Washington Wizards on Tuesday — again.
The team trailed by as many as 24 in the second quarter — the second straight game it faced a 20-point deficit in the first half — and went into halftime down 19.
But the Wizards didn’t fold this time, outscoring the Los Angeles Clippers 71-45 in the second half to stage the league’s second-biggest comeback of the season with a 125-118 victory at Capital One Arena in northwest D.C.
The Wizards also snapped a five-game winning streak by Los Angeles (11-6).
“The key was we just played harder than them,” said Wizards head coach Scott Brooks. “I thought we did that in the second half. We showed mental toughness.”
Washington (6-11) fell behind Los Angeles 61-37 at the 5:48 mark in the second quarter. But from that point on, the Wizards outscored the Clippers 88-57. In addition, Washington only committed seven turnovers and scored 20 points off the Clippers’ 19 turnovers.
The Wizards point guard John Wall scored a season-high 30 points and committed just one turnover, while backcourt mate Bradley Beal added 27 points.
Although Brooks praised his star backcourt’s play, he emphatically mentioned backup guard Tomas Satoransky, who had 13 points and seven rebounds in 24 minutes.
“Tomas Satoransky just plays hard,” he said. “Plays the right way. There’s no agenda. I need to find him more minutes.”
The third-year guard, who started 30 games last season while Wall was sidelined with an injury, said he was happy to hear Brooks is looking to play him more.
“My approach is always played hard and play for my team,” he said. “I’m always trying to bring it every game. Hopefully [Tuesday’s performance] can bring me some more minutes.”
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers also praised Satoransky, calling him key to Washington’s win.
“I thought Satoransky made a big difference for them,” Rivers said. “I thought his rebounding, just his effort, really changed the game. We let a wounded team off the mat and it is a good lesson for us.”
Clippers center Marcin Gortat, who played the previous five seasons for the Wizards, scored nine points and pulled down seven rebounds. Although the fans gave him a nice ovation when introduced in starting lineup, the Wizards organization didn’t offer a video tribute. But the former hype crew received one and framed Wizards jerseys.
As for the current Wizards, power forward Markieff Morris, who came off the bench for the first time this season, played the entire fourth quarter, finishing with 12 points in more than 25 minutes of action. Kelly Oubre Jr., who replaced Morris in the starting lineup, played slightly over 12 minutes with only three points and five fouls.
Wizards forward Jeff Green led the bench with 20 points, including a dunk early in the fourth quarter over 7-foot-3 center Boban Marjanovic.
The Clippers were led by forward Tobias Harris’ 29 points, while Montrezl Harrell contributed 20 points and nine rebounds off the bench.
The Wizards won without center Dwight Howard, who sat out with a lingering gluteal injury. Second-year center Thomas Bryant made his first career start in Howard’s place and scored seven points in 19 minutes.
“I try to stay and calm and mellow … and just go into as a regular game,” Bryant said. “I know I had a big task in front of me going out there. You want to help your teammates and make the least mistakes as you can.”
Washington will have a few days off before traveling to Canada to face the Eastern Conference-leading Toronto Raptors (14-4) on Friday. The Wizards will play a back-to-back Saturday in the District against the New Orleans Pelicans (10-7).