If the 34 points aren't enough to demonstrate how much Bradley Beal wants it, or his team-leading seven assists and three steals, maybe it's the defense he continues to play on Kyle Korver of the Atlanta Hawks.
Though the Wizards won't make it official, John Wall (fractured left wrist) isn't going to play in this second-round series so a greater burden falls on Beal.
"I had to get these guys going. In the locker room I told them, 'I'm not giving up. I need everybody with me and we need to be in this thing together. We're one as a team,'" said Beal of his speech after the Wizards went down 65-55 at halftime of Game 4 at Verizon Center. "I just wanted to come out and set a tone defensively, got a turnovers to start (the third quarter) and came out and went aggressively to the basket to try to get us easy points on the offensive end. Get guys amped up."
Beal harassed the NBA's best three-point shooter yet again. Korver only attempted four shots, making both three-pointers in the first half. Then Beal locked him down, forcing a pair of turnovers to open the third quarter to give the Wizards new life. They'd have a chance to tie it late but would lose 106-101 as the series returns to Atlanta tied at 2.
"It's a challenge and I'm willing to accept it," Beal, 21, said of picking up the slack left by Wall's absence. "I can't feed into being young because they put their paints on the same way I do.
"I have to voice myself a lot and I know I have to lead by example. ... The game of basketball is not hard. You just got to have fun, just play with heart. Nobody can give you heart. You have to find within yourself and once you do that everything takes care of itself."
Beal kept his dribble alive and got into the paint. He finished at the rim, in traffic, in transition, made half of his eight three-point attempts and played 44 minutes. His defense on Korver didn't suffer.
"I'm starting to know his tendencies. I'm upset I gave him a three at the beginning of the game. I hate when he touches the ball, period. Even if he just passes it I just hate whenever the ball is in his hands," Beal said. "Whenever he's on the floor we're just aware of where he is at all times."
Wall is a more demonstrative player. Beal has a similar edge but doesn't reveal it much. In his second postseason, he realized for the Wizards to advance deeper that he'll have to take more shots and be more assertive. He shot 11-for-25.
"I can't make the passes that John makes yet so I got a lot to work on this summer. It's been good and bad," Beal said. "It's just a learning experience at the same time, having to deal with double-teams a lot, kind of dealing with what he goes through a lot when he's in pick-and-rolls. It's kind of the life I chose. I have to grow up. I can't make excuses. I got to lead the team as best as I can."
This series is the best 2 of 3 going into Game 5 Wednesday at Phillips Arena.
"It was a great opportunity for us to go up 3-1, at home, we barely lost by five. We were still right there and we didn't even play great. We were still right there," Beal said. "We won one game without John, we can do it again. It doesn't matter what floor we play on. We have to have guys who are willing to lock in and be focused for 48 minutes whether John is playing or not."