With a 119-108 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday night, the Washington Wizards clinched the Southeast Division, their first division title since the 1978-79 season. Back then, they were the Washington Bullets of the Atlantic Division who played their home games in Landover, Maryland. The team had won its lone NBA championship the previous season and went on to lose the 1979 Finals to the Seattle SuperSonics. From 1979-80 on, Washington has had one of the worst winning percentages in the league, and while the team has made the playoffs 14 times in that span, it hasn’t gotten past the second round.

John Wall shot 14 of 25 for 34 points and Beal was held to 16 points on 7-of-16 shooting, but the Wizards ended the longest division-title drought in NBA history with their fourth straight victory. Washington put the slump in the past by outscoring the Lakers 37-13 in the fourth. The Wizards opened on a 19-6 run to tie it at 101 with their second unit in for much of the spurt. Wall returned with his team down four and hit a layup and stole D’Angelo Russell’s bad pass for a fast-break one-handed tying dunk. Beal came back, too, and he and Wall combined to score Washington’s next seven points for a 108-104 lead.

The Wizards have won 16 games after trailing by double-digits. They were down 13 to start the fourth. The Lakers had as many turnovers (five) as field goals and got dominated in the paint, 20-8, in the final 12 minutes. Kelly Oubre Jr. hit a 3-pointer to make it 113-108, effectively finishing off the Lakers. Russell led Los Angeles with 28 points and Jordan Clarkson added 22 points.

The Lakers led by 16 in the third, when they outscored the Wizards 28-14 to start. Wall tossed up an air ball during the Lakers’ run before making his team’s last two baskets to pull them to 95-92 going into the fourth. The Lakers have lost 16 of 18 since the All-Star break and have eight games remaining before missing the playoffs yet again.

With the division title locked up, the Wizards next have their sights on 50 wins. The franchise hasn’t won that many since going 54-28 in 1978-79. It would be just the fifth time the team has won that many games. They have 46 wins with eight games remaining after a 2-8 start.

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