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Bradley Beal sorry for getting ejected vs. Warriors, but Wizards won't change identity as tough team

Bradley Beal sorry for getting ejected vs. Warriors, but Wizards won't change identity as tough team

The Wizards have built an identity led by John Wall, Bradley Beal and Markieff Morris as a team that will never back down to conflict and often be the instigators in a war of words. Usually, they know how to toe that line and use it to their advantage. On Friday, they succumbed to the other side of that sword.

It was an extreme case, to be fair. Beal and Draymond Green earned ejections after a fight in the final minute of the first half of the Wizards' loss to the Warriors. In most games, an eye for an eye would leave things relatively equal. But with Morris already out due to injury and the Warriors still having three All-NBA players on their roster, a close loss resulted in the Wizards kicking themselves for losing their composure. Beal's departure cost his team and he knows it.

Beal apologized to his teammates not once, but twice; at halftime and after the game was over. He felt that Green pushed him over the edge, but did not consider than an acceptable excuse.

"I told my teammates that I can’t put myself in a situation like that to leave them out there to battle it out against a tough team without me out there," he said. "It’s unacceptable by me. I have to show better leadership and control as well."

The chaos began with Beal and Green jockeying for position on a rebound. Green was in front of Beal, but quickly turned around and the two engaged in a double headlock.

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But that moment was a culmination of two quarters of chatter between the teams including Beal and Green, who exchanged words after a first quarter play when Stephen Curry took a charge from Wall. The Wizards thought it was a flop.

"The refs didn’t really do too much early on. So, when you let it go on it kind of gets to a certain point where it gets like that," Wall said.

The incident could lead to suspensions for Beal, Green and others who either left the bench or found themselves in the middle of the melee. The Wizards aren't sure how the league will respond, but Wall couldn't fully blame Beal for his actions.

"He needs to protect himself as a grown man. You never want somebody to get into a fight or get ejected but I’ve been in that situation before where I was ejected and we had a chance to win where I apologized," Wall said.

And Wall can speak as well as anyone on the Wizards' mindset as a feisty team. They like to talk and don't shy from confrontation. That plays into the motto they stated last season as 'Death Row D.C.' They want to be the team that no one wants to mess with, the team that can win with physical play and tell you all about it afterwards.

On this particular night, it may have come back to bite them, but Wall doesn't expect them to soften up.

"We’re a team that no matter who you are, the defending champs or not, that’s how we play. That’s how we were brought up to compete. We know they’re the defending champs, they’ve been to three straight Finals and they’re a great team, but we’re trying to get what they’ve got. We’re not going to back down from anything they say or anything they do," Wall said.

Their style of play has earned the Wizards a growing list of rivals and the Warriors are on it. Last season they had a dispute at Oracle Arena after the Warriors ran up the score late in a blowout. Then-Wizards guard Brandon Jennings pushed Warriors center JaVale McGee when he took a three in the final minute. There was the Wall-Curry incident in this game and also a game back in 2013 when Wall was ejected for getting in the face of Klay Thompson.

All in the last calendar year, the Wizards have had beef with the Warriors, Suns, Bucks, Hawks, Magic and of course the Boston Celtics. You can add the Lakers to that list now, too, with what happened this week with LaVar Ball. The common theme: the Wizards aren't afraid of confrontation, whether verbal or physical, in the media or on the court itself.

Though the Wizards and Warriors only see each other two times per season, it has become a rivalry. The next time they see each other is on Feb. 28 at Capital One Arena, and surely the Wizards will keep all of this in mind, but also know they can't let it affect their chances to win.

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After getting little rest during All-Star break, Bradley Beal aims to be smart in second half

After getting little rest during All-Star break, Bradley Beal aims to be smart in second half

If anyone on the Wizards deserves some time off to rest it's Bradley Beal, who currently ranks fifth in the NBA in total minutes played. While his teammates were off on vacation, many of them at relaxing beaches far away, Beal was making appearance after appearance in Los Angeles as part of All-Star weekend.

The one drawback of Beal being selected as an All-Star and a contestant in the three-point contest was that he got little rest in the past week. He only made it one round in the three-point contest and played 16 minutes in the All-Star Game, but all of it was enough to soak up much of the free time he's used to getting this time of the year.

"Not as much as I needed to," Beal said when asked if he got any rest over the break. "I guess that's one of the downfalls of being an All-Star."

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The workload has really added up for Beal. He leads the Wizards in minutes (36.4/g) and is one of two players on the team who hasn't missed a game all season.

Beal did have Monday and Tuesday off, but that was after a crosscountry flight and a whirlwind of a weekend. He called the media and sponsorship appearances "overwhelming." Many All-Stars have been there before and know what to expect, but Beal was a first-time participant.

Beal and the Wizards will be given no breaks with their upcoming schedule. They have four back-to-back sets in the next three weeks and begin with a stretch of five games in seven days. Those games will feature the Cavs, Warriors, Bucks, Sixers and the Hornets. Charlotte is the only team of that bunch currently out of the playoff picture, but they have already beaten the Wizards twice this season.

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For Beal, it will be extra important to get any rest that he can.

"I will definitely be smart," he said. "I just gotta take care of my body. Listen to my body."

Beal says getting treatment from the Wizards' training staff in between games will be crucial. He also hopes to not over-exert himself in games by trusting his teammates and not trying to carry the load with John Wall out.

Though Beal may be tired from the weekend, he came out of it feeling pretty good about how he represented himself and the Wizards on the All-Star stage. He scored 14 points in 16 minutes in a game featuring the best players on the planet.

Beal now wants to make it an annual thing.

"I defintiely think it can push you more down the line. For me, it's just motivation to continue geting better," he said.

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Scott Brooks preparing Wizards for much tougher road ahead

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Scott Brooks preparing Wizards for much tougher road ahead

The Wizards entered the All-Star break having won seven of their previous nine games since John Wall went down with an injury, so a natural question to head coach Scott Brooks looking ahead to their first game back on Thursday was how he and his team can keep that momentum going in the second half.

Brooks immediately pointed to the Wizards' schedule, which gets notably more difficult in the coming weeks. They have a stretch of games over the next month-plus that features the best teams in basketball and Brooks knows that will be a big factor in whether they can sustain what they have going.

"Definitely the schedule gets tougher," Brooks said. "We've got a lot of good teams coming up starting with the first one in Cleveland. It's five games in seven nights against really good teams."

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In the next five weeks, the Wizards will play 15 of 17 games against teams currently holding playoff spots. That includes the Cavaliers, Warriors, Celtics, Spurs (twice), Raptors and Timberwolves. 

That will represent a marked shift for the Wizards, who to this point have the weakest strength of schedule. Though they boast impressive wins over the Celtics, Rockets, Raptors and Timberwolves, they are about to play teams of that caliber more frequently with few nights off to rest. They have four back-to-back sets all in the next three weeks.

The upcoming stretch has been on the Wizards' minds for a while. Several players referenced their tough schedule before the All-Star break, knowing those wins leading up to the time off could prove extra important in hindsight.

The Wizards return to action on Thursday night against the Cavaliers, a team that has already beaten them twice. Both of those games were against the old version of the Cavs before they traded much of their roster at the deadline.

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Gone are Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, Isaiah Thomas, Iman Shumpert, Jae Crowder and Channing Frye. But they still have that guy LeBron James.

"Shoot, they looked good the other time, right? They beat us twice with the other group," Brooks noted. "LeBron is going to go down as one of the best ever. They are younger and more athletic. They're a good team and they still have an All-Star in [Kevin] Love who hasn't played because he's hurt."

The Cavs haven't lost in three games since the All-Star break and that includes road wins over the Celtics and Thunder. They look rejuvenated and, at least so far, improved from the aging, incongruent roster they had just weeks ago.

The Wizards have also been playing better lately, of course, and this upcoming stretch will be a major test for them. Wall has been out three weeks since he had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He is likely to miss another three-to-five weeks. The Wizards will have to get through this without him.

If they can remain competitive and even beat some of these elite teams, they will only gain more confidence in their potential. That's the way Brooks plans to approach the schedule.

"We still want to be a better team when John comes back," Brooks said. "But the schedule definitely gets a lot tougher."

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