ATLANTA -- Bradley Beal left the court in tears, limping and with an angry right eye from being kicked in the face. John Wall sat at his locker with an icepack on his left wrist, speaking authoritatively to Nene about "sacrifice." The overriding storyline after Sunday's Game 1 upset of the Atlanta Hawks is how effective can the Wizards' backcourt be for the duration of this series starting with Game 2 on Tuesday.
Beal, who missed time just before and after the All-Star break because of a recurring stress reaction in his lower right leg, had an X-ray that came back negative. "It was just a sprain," he said. "Just treat it for the next couple days and see how it feels.
"That's probably the worst I've ever turned it. Off the rip you always think of the worst because you're in so much pain. I knew after I was able to walk to the bench I knew I was going to be able to come back. Re-taping it and just being mentally tough. I can't let my team down. Even if I'm not a threat, I still can be a decoy. You have to have the heart, the will and mentality that you're going go do anything it takes to win."
Wall went into the X-Ray room, too, but team officials couldn't confirm preliminary indications that it also was negative. The Wizards practice Monday but both players probably will do little, if anything, on the court. After winning the first two road games in a first-round sweep of the Toronto Raptors, the Wizards have shifted the pressure to the No. 1 seed.
"My wrist will be alright. If it ain't broke I'll play through anything," Wall said after having 18 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds in Sunday's 104-98 victory. Wall scored six of his points in the fourth quarter, including 2 of 3 jump shots immediately after Beal exited at 8:08 after rolling his right ankle. With the lead down to 98-96 with 1:21 left, Wall assisted Otto Porter for a layup, Marcin Gortat for a lob and then made a pair of foul shots for the final margin.
"The situation with Bradley being aggressive for us, it got our offense going. When he went down I knew I had to be more aggressive. Just keep running the offensive sets and making plays for my team. I made some big shots. Otto and Marcin and those guys set some good screens."
Beal came down on Al Horford's foot after a jump shot. He still had a game-high 28 points and seven rebounds and chased Kyle Korver into 5-for-15 shooting on the defensive end. Beal re-entered at 3:50 but was replaced in the last 15 seconds by Ramon Sessions. Beal's right eye was swollen and runny after he had a first-half collision with Kent Bazemore.
"I had to look him in the eye at the end there and say, 'Can you play?'" coach Randy Wittman said of Beal when he came back from the ankle twist. "Finally at the end I put Sesh in for him. I didn't think he was moving around too good. Great heart. Great win. But again, it's one win."
Wall was hurt when he stole the ball and fell in transition attempting a layup at 3:03 of the second quarter. Beal landed on him to put back the miss. Wall rolled around on the floor while the Hawks scored a basket the other way and a timeout was called. Surprisingly, he returned though still wincing and favoring it and had one of his two turnovers for the game. As a team, the Wizards had just eight giveaways, three fewer than the Hawks which was significant because Wall averaged 6.8 in four prior meetings.
"It's more in my hand now. The pressure went to my hand," said Wall, who shoots with his right, of the pain. "I'll be ready on Tuesday."
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Beal is by far the more serious of the two. He has a long history of lower right leg and ankle injuries. He had to be carried off the court in a game at the Orlando Magic during the regular season last year but the swelling was minimal and the next night Beal played at home vs. the Brooklyn Nets. He's had a few ankle tweaks this season as well. Hence, the reason for Drew Gooden's optimism.
"It was a scary moment. Earlier this year he had twisted his ankle that way and got carried off, was at practice the next day windmilling the basketball," Gooden said. "He's a fast recovery."
Wall was complimentary, of course. They combined for 46 points, 14 rebounds and 14 assists compared with Jeff Teague and Korver combining for 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
"I've seen him sprain his ankle plenty of times. It's got to be very bad for him not to come back. ... He's a warrior like me. If it's not broken, he's going to compete. He came back out there and tried to give us his best as he could," Wall said. "He couldn't go, we took him out, but just to see him come back that kind of gave us some momentum and motivation as a team."