For Bradley Beal to make his return from right hamstring tightness on Thursday night, he needed the finishing touches of more than a week of treatment by the Wizards' training staff and one final test, a workout on the court at the Verizon Center about 90 minutes before Washington was set to tip-off with the New York Knicks.
He also had within him an extra bit of motivation. Beal was already targeting this game to come back after missing three games, but what transpired the night before in Philadelphia left Beal even more determined to return.
Beal sat on the sidelines on Wednesday in Philly seething as the Wizards lost to one of the NBA's worst teams, the Sixers, knowing he could have helped if he was on the floor.
"I was real frustrated last night from our loss. I just really wanted a win," Beal said. "I wanted to come back today and hopefully, God willing, my body would feel good. And it did tonight."
Beal's return was integral in a 119-112 Wizards' victory against New York. He scored 18 points on 5-of-11 shooting with five assists in 29 minutes. He was 3-for-6 from three and a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line.
Beal helped orchestrate an impressive performance for the Wizards offensively. They shot 54.3 percent from the field and 60 percent (15-of-25) from three.
For one night, everything clicked on both ends of the floor.
"It brings a whole different dimension to our team having Brad back," forward Markieff Morris said. "He's an elite scorer and a great defender. That made it easy for us to put the ball in the basket."
“It definitely opens it up for us. He gets so much attention, I think it helps everybody," forward Otto Porter said. "We need his ability to create for himself and create for others and knock down shots.”
Thursday night was also the first time this season that John Wall was available in the second game of a back-to-back set, and naturally the Wizards looked like a much better team. Though they are just 3-9 on the season, they are 3-4 with Beal and Wall in the lineup.
"It is good to have him back. Having Brad out there, we are a different team for obvious reasons," head coach Scott Brooks said. "We're a different team when we have all of our guys together. I don't use it as an excuse. I never told the guys 'hey, great game but too bad we lost and we don't have our guys.' I tell the guys that we have enough to win. But we are a better team when all of our guys are healthy."
The Wizards are off on Friday before hosting the Miami Heat (3-8) on Saturday night. Beal's hamstring, which he first tweaked on Nov. 9 against the Celtics, will still be monitored moving forward. Beal, in fact, had to play through some discomfort on Thursday night in order to return.
“It’s more of a mental thing, just being able to take some type of pain, some type of soreness. It’s tough with a hamstring because it’s not going to all the way clear up on you," Beal said. "You’re not going to go back to 100 percent, you’re going to have to work through some things. I was able to tolerate some soreness and stiffness and it actually feels a little bit better."
"We'll see how he feels tomorrow, but I don't anticipate any issues," Brooks said.