At Saturday's Wizards practice and before Sunday's game against the Bulls, shooting guard Bradley Beal sported black tape on the back of his right arm, from his tricep down past his elbow. He told NBC Sports Washington on Saturday that his arm was sore from taking too many shots after practice. With his three-point percentage on the season far lower than he expects it to be, Beal is determined to snap out of it and feel like himself again.
On Sunday against the Bulls, Beal may have had a breakthrough. The Big Panda dropped in seven threes to match a career-high as part of a 39-point statement game, the type of performance that bolsters an All-Star résumé.
"I might have games where I don’t might make any, and games where I make seven, and games where I make two. That doesn’t change my confidence," Beal said. "I continue to shoot the same way, with the same mechanics, and the same mentality. I believe that every shot is going to go in. I was happy and fortunate that they were falling tonight.”
Beal, who has yet to make an All-Star team through five-plus NBA seasons, may be well on his way to earning the honor. Not only did he flirt with 40 points, Beal grabbed nine rebounds, dished nine assists and grabbed two steals.
RELATED: HOW TO VOTE FOR NBA ALL-STARS
Beal's improved versatility is a big reason why teammate John Wall said earlier this month he believes Beal should be a lock to play in the All-Star Game this February in Los Angeles. His head coach Scott Brooks agrees.
"Brad’s an All-Star," Brooks said. "I thought he was an All-Star last year, he led us in a lot of different games and [averaged] 23 points. It’s not just the 23 points, it’s the defensive play that he does, it’s the passing. We’re very blessed, we have two guys in the backcourt that are All-Stars."
Beal is shooting just 36.5 percent from the perimeter this season, well below his 40.4 clip last season and his 39.5 career percentage. But he has now shot 50 percent or higher on threes in two straight games for the first time this season.
Beal is finding consistency on the offensive end in general with 20 points or more in four straight games. It was easy to see why on Sunday, as he consistently made the Bulls pay no matter how they defended him. Beal got points on dunks driving to the rim and on an array of stepback jumpers, in addition to his threes.
The only thing he didn't do was knock down his free throws. Beal had two attempts with 9.1 seconds left when the Wizards were up by two points, an opportunity to seal the game, and missed both of them. The Wizards still won, but Beal could only shake his head looking back.
"I’m a little upset about this game though," Beal said. "I missed [both] free-throws, I could have had one assist and one more rebound."
Beal has had several big games this season, the kind that stand out to those who vote for the All-Star Game. There was his 51-point masterpiece against the Blazers, his 40 points against the Suns and his 38 points in a win at the Raptors when Wall was out. Add this one to the list.
But most importantly, the Wizards are starting to take off as a team. They are 7-3 since Wall returned, their best 10-game stretch of the season so far.
"It’s all about winning games and if you win games and you play for each other, individual awards come," Brooks said. "If you focus on that, you’re focused on the wrong things. I’ve talked to Brad many, many times and he has not mentioned All-Star to me.”
RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS