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Beal takes first NBA benching in stride


Beal takes first NBA benching in stride

When he was taken by the Wizards with the third pick of the 2012 NBA draft, Bradley Beal knew there would come a day when his ego would take a bruising.

That day came Saturday night when he took a look at the starting lineup and saw Jordan Crawford’s name in his place.

“It was fine with me,” the 19-year-old rookie said after playing a career-low 13 minutes and scoring a career-low six points in an 83-76 loss to the Utah Jazz that dropped the Wizards to a league-worst 0-8.

“Coach [Randy Wittman] said he was going to make changes. He ended up bringing Book [Trevor Booker] and me off the bench. It didn’t faze me either way, as long as I get to play we try to get the win.”

Beal started his NBA career by averaging 18.3 points in his first three games. But when he followed with a pair of 8-point performances while shooting 4-for-25 in back-to-back losses in Charlotte and Dallas Tuesday and Wednesday, Wittman decided it was time his rookie watch the start of the game from the bench.  

“Yeah, I talked to him,” Beal said. “He told me straight up. He said he was going to make changes and he didn’t know who it was going to be [to replace Beal].

“He said, ‘If I do choose to bring you off the bench, don’t take it personal or don’t feel as though I’m punishing you.' It was just a change and it’s just unfortunate we still came out with the loss.”

In his 13 minutes Saturday night Beal shot 3-for-6 from the field and did not attempt a 3-pointer. He also failed to record an assist and committed two turnovers. Two of his six points came when he drove the lane and dropped his first dunk as a Wizard.

“Coach told me something I actually took advice from,” Beal said. “He said, ‘When you feel as though you can’t get the [shooting] rhythm, start inside first and then work out. They were giving me opportunities to get to the basket and I tried to take it in strong and get them in foul trouble.”

The Wizards are hoping the arrival of natural point guard Shaun Livingston can open up more shooting opportunities for Beal, who averaged 17.6 points during the NBA Summer League. Livingston said he already sees in Beal a lot of the qualities that enticed the Wizards to take him third overall.

“I like his game a lot,” Livingston said. “He’s going to be a real good player in this league. Like every rookie the more you learn the better you get.

“He has a chance to be a star. He has all the fundamentals. He can shoot, he can get to the basket. It’s just learning the NBA game. Learning the rotations, learning the sets, knowing how defenses are going to play you. Knowing what’s a good shot, what’s not a good shot. He’ll learn that this season.”

The learning curve has been a lot sharper this season because of the absence of star guard John Wall and the mounting pressure of digging out of an 0-8 start.

“I want him to stay confident,” teammate A.J. Price said. “He’s one of our key players who we’re going to need. Regardless of how he feels personally right now we know we’re going to need him to be confident and be ready.”


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Wizards at Cavs: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Wizards at Cavs: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kelly Oubre, Jr. and the Washington Wizards battle LeBron James, George Hill, Larry Nance, Jr. and the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch:


Where: Quicken Loans Arena
Tip-off: 8 p.m.
TV: TNT (pre- and postgame coverage on NBC Sports Washington Plus)
Live stream: TNTdrama.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Back in action

The Wizards return to the court after a week-long layoff due to the All-Star break. Add in the fact that they had three days off before their last game and this will be just the second game for the Wizards in the last 12 days. What is this, football?

The Wizards will try to overcome the rust to keep their momentum going. They entered the All-Star break having won seven of their last nine games. Though the time off was needed due to a wide array of injuries, the Wizards had a good thing going and will aim to recapture that against a good Cavs team.


Tough stretch

The Wizards come back with a game against the Cavs, a difficult first assignment after such a long layoff. But this is just the beginning of what will be a very difficult part of their schedule. In their next 17 games, the Wizards will play 15 times against teams currently holding playoff spots. That includes the Warriors, Celtics, Spurs and Raptors.

The schedule is tough beyond their opponents. Four times in the next three weeks they will play back-to-back games and they have five games in the next seven nights. Hopefully the players recharged their batteries because it won't be easy.


New-look Cavs

The Wizards and Cavs have played twice this season already and Cleveland took both of those matchups. However, that was all before the trade deadline when the Cavs overhauled their roster. They have won all three of their games since and look rejuvenated with younger players.

Now surrounding LeBron James are a host of new faces like George HIll, Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance, Jr. It will be interesting to see how the Wizards match up with this new group.


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Bradley Beal thoroughly impressed by LeBron James after being his teammate at All-Star Game

Bradley Beal thoroughly impressed by LeBron James after being his teammate at All-Star Game

As a member of the Washington Wizards, Bradley Beal has had many battles with LeBron James over the years, first with the Miami Heat and now with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Over the weekend, Beal got to experience having James as a teammate for the first time at the All-Star Game in Los Angeles.

It was an eye-opening endeavor. Beal got to see up close and personal James' abilities and his routine to maximize them. In a group of the best players on the planet, James stood out.

"It was surreal at first, just being around all the guys," Beal said. "Even just being on his team for two days, that was an unbelievable experience."


Beal, 24, is six seasons in to his NBA career and from experience has learned how to train for the rigors of an 82-game regular season. What James does at 33 years old to stay in peak form, however, is next level.

"To see his preparation, his focus and his mentality and what he does to take care of his body before and after games," Beal said. "That's the true testament to a Hall of Famer and one of the best to ever play the game."

James actually assisted Beal's first points in the All-Star Game, a two-handed dunk in the first quarter. James attacked the rim on a fastbreak to draw attention, then found Beal with a dump-off pass for an easy bucket.


It was an example of James' tricks of the trade. He is not just the most athletic player on the court, he is also the smartest when it comes to the game of basketball.

"His approach and his leadership and everything, it's top notch. It's crazy because you always play against him and to play with him, you get experience the other side of it," Beal said.

Beal, however, did note that much of what he gleaned from James was by watching him. At the end of the day, they are competitors and James isn't going to give away all of his secrets.

"He's not disclosing that information," Beal joked.

The Wizards happen to play James and the Cavs in their first game back from the All-Star break on Thursday night. Once again, Beal will be on the other side.