What Russell Westbrook told Bradley Beal after Wizards beat Hornets

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Westbrook's postgame message to Beal: 'It's only up from here' originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

After the final buzzer of Sunday's win over the Hornets, which clinched the eighth seed in the East for the Wizards, Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal hugged each other at the free-throw line. Westbrook spoke as Beal listened before they went their separate ways to celebrate the regular-season finale with the postseason up next.

After the game, Westbrook was asked what he said to his backcourt partner. It turns out it was a heartfelt message about the road they took to get to this point.

"That moment was strictly just to let him know that I appreciated him since being here. We fought through so much to get here now. Nobody believed that we would be here. It’s only up from here," Westbrook said.

Westbrook was referencing how the Wizards began the season 17-32, then won 17 of their final 23 games. They completed that unlikely comeback by getting the No. 8 seed in the East, which makes their path to qualifying for the playoffs much more likely, as they need to win one game instead of two, which would have been required if they finished ninth or 10th.

Westbrook also mentioned Beal's resiliency, as the All-Star shooting guard scored 25 points despite playing through obvious pain from a left hamstring strain. Beal began the game shooting 4-for-17 through three quarters, then found his groove to drop 13 in the fourth, as the Wizards overcame an 11-point deficit at the start of the frame.

"You appreciate guys like him. You don’t take his talent and his mental; anything for granted because he wants to win. He wants to win bad. He will do anything to help his team out," Westbrook said.

Beal and Westbrook are in their first season together and it hasn't always been a smooth ride.

But clearly, they have developed some chemistry, and not only on the court.