Bradley Beal Rediscovers his Shot, and Confidence, in Charlotte | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Bradley Beal Rediscovers his Shot, and Confidence, in Charlotte

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Updated: January 24, 2017

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The Washington Wizards defeated the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night, 109-99, their fifth win in six games. Not only did they remove the bad taste from a last-second loss to Detroit, but they also won the first of a tough three-game stretch. The Boston Celtics visit D.C. tonight and the Wizards face the Hawks in Atlanta on Friday, teams third and fourth in the Eastern Conference respectively (the Wizards are currently fifth).

Equally as important as the Wizards’ ability to bounce back was Bradley Beal’s ability to emerge from his three-game slump. He has averaged just 12.1 points, shooting 12-for-42 (28%) from the field and 1-for-21 from the 3-point line in his rut. A somber Beal told the Washington Post‘s Candace Buckner, “It’s just not going in. It’s okay. We still had a chance to win. I’ll be all right.” Coach Scott Brooks agreed with Beal’s assessment and offered some encouragement after the Detroit game:

“I’ve been around Brad, he’s diligent in his work. He gets his shots in. He doesn’t change his routine. I think that’s the best way to get out of some missed shots. He’s getting good looks. He just has to keep believing in it because I do and his teammates do.”

Initially it didn’t look like Beal would even be available in Charlotte, thanks to a sore left foot and a sore left knee — the latter required an MRI, which came back negative. Beal worked out and stretched before the game and was cleared to assume his normal place in the starting lineup. Four minutes into the game, he probably wished he’d opted to sit out.

First Beal badly missed a 25-footer, then he committed two fouls in a 30-second span. The first came via an ill-advised reach on Kemba Walker as he drove to the basket, and Beal was so disgusted with his actions that he could be seen shaking his head as Walker shot his free throws. After committing that foul, Beal got the ball in the lane on the other end of floor and badly bricked the shot off the glass, but luckily Otto Porter was there for the follow. Beal reached again on the next defensive possession, this time on Nicolas Batum. Afterward he gave the referees an incredulous look, and soon after that Coach Brooks subbed in Sheldon McClellan.

Beal remained on the bench until the 7:02 mark of the second quarter, with the Wizards trailing by six points. He missed a step-back 18-footer with his first shot off the bench, and with his second shot he faked a 3-pointer, drove the lane, and appeared to get fouled by both Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Tyler Zeller. But the refs swallowed their whistle. Beal responded with some demonstrative body language reminiscent of what he used to do during the Randy Wittman era:

A minute after that petulant display, Beal hit a 3-pointer to give the Wizards a 12-point lead, which represented their biggest lead of the game. But just as there seemed to be an opening for Beal to gain confidence, he turned the ball over on consecutive possessions. He subbed out of the game with 1:08 left to sit for the rest of the first half.

The Wizards led 60-48 going into the break, but they did so in spite of Beal’s three points (1-5 FGs) and two turnovers.

Beal began the third quarter with an assist and yet another miss from the 3-point line, and then he suddenly found his stroke. He hit 3s on consecutive possessions to take the Wizards’ lead from nine to 15 points. He missed two more 3-pointers, but hit a third attempt to keep the Hornets a bay by double digits. He kept shooting as Coach Brooks had implored him to do after the Detroit game, as any coach might do for a top shooter. And it worked.

In the fourth quarter as the Wizards struggled to stave off the inevitable Hornets surge, Beal’s outside shooting touch failed him once again, but he remained productive in other aspects of his offense. He drove the lane and scored on a floater (after gathering his own miss), and then single-handedly energized Kelly Oubre and his confidence. First Beal drove the lane, drew two Hornets defenders, and found Oubre wide open for a corner 3. Oubre thanked Beal for that pass on his way back up the court, got back into a defensive stance, and stuck his long arm in the passing lane, stole Frank Kaminsky’s pass that was intended for Nicholas Batum, and slammed the ball home with authority. Oubre shared a chest bump with Trey Burke, and then, as the Hornets called timeout, Beal ran all the way down from the other side of the court to share his own chest bump:

Beal finished with good, not great, numbers: 18 points on 6-for-16 shooting, including 4-for-9 from the 3-point line, with five rebounds, four assists, and four turnovers. But he shed the pouting, poor shooting, and worse body language and found a way to get engaged and assist the Wizards in manufacturing a victory. He anchored the second unit when John Wall went to the bench, and got Oubre and Markieff Morris involved while peppering in his own baskets here and there. Most importantly, Beal found a bit of confidence as the Wizards go back home to play the Celtics, in search of their 14th straight home victory in what promises to be a contentious match.

One Final Note.

Tonight will be the first meeting between the Wizards and Celtics since Jae Crowder poked John Wall in the nose (Wall slapped him back, and Beal and Marcus Smart got physical) and fines were handed out. Crowder started the talk yesterday by characterizing the Washington Wizards as notorious smack talkers:

Bradley Beal came up with a more subtle approach to the Celtics-Wizards game, which promises to be competitive and perhaps mildly confrontational:

 

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Rashad Mobley
Reporter/Writer at TAI
Rashad has been covering the NBA and the Washington Wizards since 2008—his first two years were spent at Hoops Addict before moving to Truth About It. Rashad has appeared on ESPN and college radio, SportsTalk on NewsChannel 8 in Washington D.C., and his articles have appeared on ESPN TrueHoop, USAToday.com, Complex Magazine, and the DCist. He considers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a hero and he had the pleasure of interviewing him back in 2009.