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Bradley Beal has another statement game in his quest for first All-Star bid

Bradley Beal has another statement game in his quest for first All-Star bid

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.


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.”


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John Wall goes through full practice for first time since left knee surgery

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John Wall goes through full practice for first time since left knee surgery

John Wall crossed one of the biggest hurdles of his months-long recovery from arthroscopic left knee surgery on Saturday by participating in his first full practice.

That means Wall went through 5-on-5 scrimmages with teammates that included contact. He is free of restrictions.

Now it is only a matter of days before Wall is ready to return to game action.

"John did everything, he did an entire practice which was great," head coach Scott Brooks said. "I thought he did a great job offensively and defensively."


Wall, who last played on Jan. 25 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, has missed the Wizards' last 24 games. He has been absent for 35 of their 72 total games this season.

In the months he has been out, Wall has slowly worked his way to this point. He still has to get a few more practices under his belt before the Wizards can outline a target date for his return.

Wall was aggressive in testing his knee by attacking the basket, according to Brooks. Wall was moving around well and even lost a few pounds during his time off.

"He looks great and that's not easy with time off," Brooks said. "He will be back in no time."


The Wizards have gone 14-10 since Wall went down, an impressive mark especially considering how tough their schedule shook out. Most of those games came against teams with winning records either holding playoff spots or fighting for them.

The shine, though, is wearing off. They have lost two straight games and seven of their last 11. Their offense has stalled in recent defeats and it's become more and more clear they could use Wall's presence.

"He gives us that edge," Wall said. "When you have him on the floor, you get a lot of easy shots. John creates a lot of attention when he drives to the basket... I think [his teammates] have always appreciated it, but when you don't have him around you definitely miss it."

While the Wizards continue to wait for Wall to return to games, just having him in practices helps. Brooks explained how guarding a player of Wall's caliber, a five-time All-Star, raises the intensity level of their scrimmages. If his teammates do not bring their best effort, Wall can very easily expose them.


There is also something intangible about Wall's presence. The media sees it once the doors open at practice. He is talkative and energetic on the court.

Some of his teammates even described him as "loud."

"Sometimes I tell him that he's a little too loud," guard Bradley Beal said. "But that's the energy that we've missed."

"He brings the juice. He brings the energy level up," Brooks said. "You miss his spirit. You miss the way he interacts with guys. He's fiery and competitive. He gets after guys. He cheers guys on. I like that. I like guys that show emotion and passion on the court."

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Wizards display lack of urgency in loss to Nuggets and Scott Brooks is frustrated

Wizards display lack of urgency in loss to Nuggets and Scott Brooks is frustrated

Following their seventh loss in 11 games and another lackluster performance in key areas, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks reverted back to a critique that characterized many defeats months ago. He called into question the effort of his team, more specifically their urgency. How they could overlook the stakes at this point of the season and with so much on the line had escaped him.

Brooks wasn't pleased following Washington's 108-100 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday night. He didn't like their three-point defense, their inability to force turnovers and their lack of zip on offense. But overall, it was the apparent lack of realization that time is running out in the regular season and off-nights cannot be afforded.

"We have to play with more spirit [and] we have to take some pride in our home court," Brooks said. "We’re building our habits going into the playoffs and these are moments where we need to take advantage because it’s playoff implications in every game."


Pride is something Brooks has referenced after the Wizards' worst defeats since he took over. This one didn't qualify, as they only lost by eight points and had opportunities late to write a different ending. But they were playing a team fighting for their own playoff position in the opposite conference and for the most part did not match their intensity.

The Nuggets, to put it plainly, are among the worst defensive teams in basketball. They were missing their leading scorer, Gary Harris. And they tightened their rotation to just eight players.

Yet the Wizards only managed 100 points, six below their season average, and committed 17 turnovers. Aside from their 33-point third quarter, the Wizards' offense was effectively stalled. 

"We can’t have guys that are not going to participate with hard cuts and hard setups and good screens. We need everybody. It’s not one person, it’s all," Brooks said.


The Wizards only forced 10 turnovers on the Nuggets and only three in the first half. That held back their offense in the sense they had few opportunities for fastbreak buckets.

"That’s where we get most of our offense from anyways, getting stops, getting out in transition," forward Otto Porter said.

The Wizards have lost two straight games. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers and Pacers both won on Friday night.

The Wizards are sixth place in the East and just 1 1/2 games out of fourth, but there is a huge difference in those spots. Sixth could mean meeting the Cavs in the first round and they have won three straight since Kevin Love returned from injury.


The Cavaliers could quickly become the most dangerous team in the Eastern Conference. Their record is deceiving due to Love's injury and they still boast LeBron James, the best player on the planet. No one can control a playoff series quite like he can.

An argument could be made the Wizards would be better off moving down than up, as the seventh spot would match them up with the injury-riddled Boston Celtics. The Wizards are just 1 1/2 games ahead of the seventh-seed Miami Heat.

The Wizards, though, would prefer to move up and they still have a chance to get into fourth, which would mean home court advantage.

John Wall will return at some point, likely soon. In the short-term, Brooks would like to some urgency and for his team to get back to the trademark ball movement that allowed them to go 10-3 in their first 13 games when Wall went down.

"We can get it back, but it’s not going to come back. We have to go get it. It’s time to do it; it’s time," Brooks said.

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