Beal scores career high | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Shading Out the Sun — Washington Edges Phoenix, 106-101

By
Updated: November 23, 2016

wallbookersuns

[Image via Monumental Sports]

Washington finished 10th in the East last season, and it was easy to point to several losses as reasons that kept them out of the postseason.

Falling in double overtime, at home, to the T-Wolves, missing late free throws to clinch over the Raptors, suffering a home defeat to the hapless Lakers, unable to get a late stop to put away the Blazers in Portland, and coughing up a big lead in Charlotte with a historically futile fourth quarter—these were just a few of the blown games by the Wizards in their 41-41 campaign.

This week’s encounter with Phoenix on a chilly Monday night in D.C. almost became another one of those costly, regretful defeats. The Suns, a dismal 4-10 on the season, were without the services of Tyson Chandler and Ty Warren. They were on the fifth game of a six-game road trip. Philadelphia had just blown them out. Washington has been mired in their own struggles (also losers against Philly), but they had to take advantage of a short-handed Western Conference foe.

The first half was sloppy in front of a sparse Verizon Center crowd. It was so quiet that you could hear conversations from across the arena; and any noises were usually groans due to crappy basketball. Washington took a 50-46 halftime lead but, of course, began the third quarter flat. Phoenix started with an 18-7 run, as Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker got cooking. The Suns increased their lead to 11 points before a late Washington surge cut the deficit to five entering the final quarter. Throughout the final period, neither team could pull away—fans saw seven lead changes, three ties, and no team led by more than five points. Bradley Beal played incredibly (a career-high 42 points on the night), but Booker countered with his own impressive 7-0 run to give Phoenix a 101-99 lead with 1:27 left.

John Wall, who struggled all night with his shot, then made a successful and-1 put back to give the Wizards a one-point lead that they never relinquished, holding Phoenix scoreless afterward to secure a 106-101 victory.

Washington is now 4-9 on the season, staving off another home embarrassment, but there is still a lot work to do before this team can generate any legitimate momentum.

The Key.

The Suns started a three-guard lineup to run an offense that already aims to push the ball up the court for quick shots. But it was the Wizards who excelled in transition, outscoring the Suns 16-0 at the half and 25-6 for the game. Suns coach Earl Watson:

“Wall played well down the stretch, but for us it’s not just the last seven possessions. It was fastbreak points and points off turnovers. We had 21 (turnovers) tonight. It kind of cost us, and I think we gave them 19 points. Fastbreak points, I had them down for 25. That’s almost 50 (combined). That’s too many points in those categories.”

Crunch Time.

In his opening statements, TAI’s Kyle Weidie analyzed the woes of the Wizards in late-game situations. Against the Suns, Wall and Beal both delivered in the clutch, but there were still hiccups.

After Booker’s 7-0 run, Washington’s half court set crawled out of a timeout; Scott Brooks screamed on the sideline. Wall bailed the offense out with that and-1. After stopping Phoenix, Wall then hit a big mid-range jumper. Before those two makes, Wall was 4-for-22 from the field (Beal was 14-for-22). Although Wall deserves credit for making the big plays, it felt more lucky than tactical.

Max Beal.

Bradley “Big Panda” Beal produced a career-high 42 points. He picked his spots to drive, connected on five 3-pointers, and was 9-for-11 at the free throw line. Since coming back from a hamstring injury, Beal has been sensational. Here are his offensive averages in those three games:

Mins: 36.3 / PTs: 31.3 / FGs: 31-59 (52.5%) / 3PTs: 12-27 (44.4%) / FTs: 20-22 (90.9%) / ASTs: 3 / REBs: 3.6 / TOs: 1.6

I asked Coach Watson what made Beal so tough to guard:

“I didn’t defend him, so I do not know why it was so tough. He played really determined tonight. He played well, 5-of-10 from the 3. He is always moving, getting offensive rebounds from the perimeter. They did a great job of finding him. John Wall did a great job of putting him in position. Dynamic backcourt.”

Booker agreed that Beal was a handful:

“He played well. We knew he was a scorer, like I said. We wanted other people to make the plays. I feel like the pin downs he was getting, he was getting too good of looks, getting open 3s, just things that you cannot give a player like him. Same with John Wall, even when he was shooting poorly in the first half, he was still being aggressive. You know they are eventually going to fall. We are in the NBA. Those are great players, especially those two right there.”

Reunions.

Watson played for Brooks when he was an assistant coach in Seattle and in Oklahoma City, as well as when Brooks was head coach of the Thunder. His assessment of Brooks, the coach:

“He has a great demeanor about him. He is never rattled. Situations, he is never going to lose his cool. He has been a builder as a player and a coach. He understands what it is like to take over a situation, building up.”

Markieff Morris was also facing his former team in the Suns. Before the game, he spoke with Booker for a long time. You could tell there was a genuine relationship there. Afterward, I asked Booker about his conversation with Morris.

“Markieff helped my introduction into the league. Even though alot was going on with him in Phoenix, he was still a really good guy to me. A true vet, someone that I’m going to thank the rest of my life for the things that he taught me for when he was in Phoenix. I wish the best for him in his career. We still talk on the phone a little bit here and there. I keep up with him, he keeps up with me. I am excited to see what the future holds for him. I credit him for a lot of my success earlier in my career.”

And Jared Dudley returned to D.C. for the first time:

“I had a great time when I was here. They (fans) respected what I did. I played the right way. Overall, I have to thank Ernie, for bring me in with my back injury. A lot of GMs wouldn’t have done that. I think that I held my end of the bargain up. Me and my family loved D.C.”

Youth Battle.

Beal and Wall combined for 60 points, compared to 59 points for Bledsoe and Booker. The former Kentucky teammates, Wall and Bledsoe, are both 26 years old. Beal is 23 and Booker turned 20 in October 30th.

I feel older having typed that than you do reading it.

Injuries.

Otto Porter left the game in the third quarter with a hip strain and did not return. He is listed as day-to-day and was held out of practice on Tuesday.

Schedule.

Washington has Thanksgiving off, but will be in Orlando on Black Friday.

Fans.

Team owner Ted Leonsis recently spoke on fans angst, and his unwavering support for Team President Ernie Grunfeld:

“I think that fans [believe] in the win-now [mind-set], and if you don’t win now, if you lose two games in a row, make a change. And they should be. It’s fantastic. It generates click streams. Right now, we developed a plan. I was in the middle of it. We were executing against the plan and the plan is working slower than I wanted it to be. But I’m in the middle of it.”

This squad is no fans of “The Plan.”

washington wizards, truth about it, devin booker, markieff morris, adam mcginnis, phoenix suns

washington wizards, truth about it, bradley beal, jared dudley, adam mcginnis, phoenix suns, career high points

Video.

Adam McGinnis on EmailAdam McGinnis on FacebookAdam McGinnis on FlickrAdam McGinnis on GoogleAdam McGinnis on TwitterAdam McGinnis on Youtube
Adam McGinnis
Reporter / Writer / Media at TAI
Adam is a bro from the Midwest who's been bopping around the District of Columbia for years. He's down with a range of sports, etc. and has covered the Washington Wizards for TAI since 2010.