The Hop – Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards agreed to an enormous $128 million contract last offseason. Now in the most important season to date for not only Beal, but for the Wizards as well, the highest paid player in franchise had the best scoring game of his career just as his team needed it. Since he’s gotten into the NBA, Beal has been working on expanding his game beyond his lauded shooters label and so far his hard work has paid off. In his last three games he’s scored 94 points, good for 31.3 points per game. So far his career has been marred by inconsistency and injuries but it seems like he’s currently on a tear, if he continues to play like he has he will be on the way to his first All-Star berth. With the victory against the youth-filled Phoenix Suns the Wizards improved to 4-10.
In a game that featured a primetime matchup between the stud backcourts of the Suns and Wizards, it was John Wall and Bradley Beal whom came out victorious. Along with Beal’s career-high 42 points, Wall added 18 of his own points along with 15 dimes. On a night where he struggled with his own shot (6-24) Wall did what great players do and found other ways to contribute. The bench also had a solid night. Tomas Satoransky and Marcus Thornton are developing into a strong duo and they have a done a good job of facilitating and scoring when on the court together.
3-Point Defense Still Needs Work
The Wizards again allowed another team to make double digit 3-pointers. Over the last three games they have allowed 12 3-pointers a game.
Bradley Beal Building Confidence and Tougher Mentality
Courtesy of NBA.com After the game Beal was quoted as saying he was allowing himself to not worry so much about his shots falling, just realizing that no matter what happened there was always a next play, ”Not thinking, not worrying about if I miss or if I make it. I just have the same mentality that it’s on to the next shot. That shot’s over,” Beal said.
With the the starting backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal absent due to surgery rehab, and injury respectively, the Wizards had a tough game ahead of them. The rookie backcourt of the Tomas Satoransky and Sheldon McClellan played well and fearlessly together. In fact on multiple possessions Satoransky and Marcin Gortat displayed a unique chemistry together. ” A eastern European thing” as Gortat called it at halftime. The Wizards, in the first quarter, started off well grabbing 21-12 before Jimmy Butler and Isaiah Cannon took over and sparked a 10-run and took the lead 22-21. They ended up winning the 1st quarter 28-27. The second quarter was a back and forth affair. Late in the quarter the Wizards went on their own run, an 11-0 one to be exact. With the lengthy scoring and strong defense they took a 56-53 lead into half time.
The second half was a complete disaster for the Wiz and company. The Bulls defense dominated, holding the Wizards to only 14 points. Combine their smoothering defense with a balanced attack and you have the recipe for a hard earned lead going into the 4th quarter 81-70. In the final frame the Wizards played with more passion and played like they knew what was at stake. The closest they pulled to was seven points, but from then on Butler took over and the Bulls defense played better and pulled out 106-95 victory.
Satoransky and McClellan Proving To Be Hidden Gems:
With their first career starts, Tomas Satoransky and Sheldon McClellan became the first rookie starting backcourt for the Wizards since John Wall and Jordan Crawford did in 2010-2011. The two young guns had pretty solid games, Satoransky dropped 12 points along with 9 spectacular dimes. Meanwhile McClellan had 15 points, attacking when he had the opportunity and not allowing himself to make silly mistakes. Their development and confidence will be pivotal for nights when John Wall and/or Bradley Beal are out.
Bench Struggles Again:
In what has become a recurring storyline for the Wizards the bench struggled mightily. Trey Burke, in particular, was having a hard time running the offense and it created problems for the rest of the bench. Only producing 18 points, 10 boards, and 4 assists exasperated the issue. It will be interesting to see how they respond to Marcin Gortat’s comments about ” being the worse bench in the NBA”.