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Morning tip: Wizards' Brooks confident in Beal despite shooting slump

Morning tip: Wizards' Brooks confident in Beal despite shooting slump

Right in the middle of the best season of his career so far, Wizards guard Bradley Beal is mired in his worst shooting slump as an NBA player.

In their loss to the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night, Beal shot just 4-for-15 from the field and 0-for-7 from three-point range. In his last three games, Beal is just 12-of-42 (.286) from the field and 1-of-21 from three.

Beal, in fact, has now missed 19 straight three-point attempts. That's the longest three-point slump of his career. 

Beal hasn't hit a three now in two straight games, each time going 0-for-7. That follows a career-best streak of 30 straight games in which he had at least one three. And this current three-game slump comes after he went 14-of-22 (63.6%) in four outings.

Going without a three for two straight games matches the second-longest drought of Beal's career. His longest was five games, back in December of 2012, his rookie season.

It's just not often you see Beal go this cold and, as a result, he is currently shooting a career-low 38.4 percent from three this season.

Those numbers are ugly, but head coach Scott Brooks believes Beal will snap out of it soon.

"Every player in this league is going to go through some shooting slumps. Hopefully he can get out of it in the next game," Brooks said.

That next game will be Monday in Charlotte, as the Wizards close a three-game road trip against Eastern Conference teams. In order to break out of his recent slide, Beal just needs to keep shooting, Brooks says:

"He’s getting good looks. They aren’t falling for him right now. But I’ve been around Brad for four, five or six months now. He’s diligent in his work. He gets his shots in. He doesn’t change his routine. I think that’s the best way to get out of some missed shots. But he’s getting good looks."

Beal's Saturday night also included two scary moments, both in the fourth quarter. With just over five minutes left, Beal crashed hard to the floor and hit his head on the hardwood.

Later in the quarter, Beal fell in a heap under the basket and grabbed his left knee. It has been a tough few days for Beal, but Brooks is not at all concerned.

"He just needs to keep believing in it becuase I do and his teammates do," he said.

[RELATED: VIDEO: Pistons beat Wizards on last second tip-in]

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Rui Hachimura's learning curve can be seen on offense late in games

Rui Hachimura's learning curve can be seen on offense late in games

WASHINGTON -- Wizards forward Rui Hachimura has translated so smoothly to the NBA level that it is easy to forget he is still just a rookie with only 31 games under his belt. For a reminder of his inexperience, just look at the fourth quarter.

Hachimura tends to start games hot on the offensive end, like he did on Friday in the Wizards' loss to the Cavaliers when he had eight points by the end of the first quarter. But he scored only nine points after that and went scoreless through seven minutes in the fourth.

That has been a consistent theme for him this season. He averages 4.8 points in the first quarter shooting 48.4 percent from the field, 4.0 points in the second shooting 57 percent and then 4.3 points on 47.9 percent in the third. In the fourth quarter those numbers plummet to 1.9 points on average and 33.3 percent shooting.

Basically, Hachimura often comes out on fire but then slows down considerably once opponents make midgame changes. Against the Cavs, Hachimura said it was because they disrupted passing lanes.

"They are an NBA team. They just adjusted. They didn't want me to catch the ball. They didn't let me just catch the ball. I think that's why," he said.

The Wizards have seen teams switch defensive match-ups midgame to counter Hachimura. Sometimes taking away his midrange jumper will be prioritized. The Cavs seemed to find success playing Hachimura more physically in the second half, bumping him away from his comfort zones.

Over time, Hachimura can improve his ability to sustain scoring throughout games simply by becoming more versatile. The more consistent he becomes at making three-point shots and creating off the dribble, the more difficult it will be for teams to stop him. As long as he keeps improving, he will reach a point where he can stay ahead of the defense with a multitude of counters.

Developing a more reliable outside game and more dribble combinations will take some time. For now, Hachimura believes the key to him keeping up his scoring pace involves working with his teammates, particularly star shooting guard Bradley Beal.

"I just gotta connect more with Brad. Brad is the one everybody is trying to guard. Screens and pick-and-rolls with him, that kind of stuff will help me," Hachimura said.

Hachimura's game against the Cavaliers reflected how the team played overall. After scoring 41 points in the first quarter, they managed only 42 in the second half. They blew a 16-point lead and lost, 113-108.

So, he wasn't alone. And those rooting for Hachimura to round out his game should feel good about his odds. He has a relentless work ethic and is often staying after practice to go over film with player development coach Dave Adkins.

Hachimura is perceptive and driven to improve. In order to take the next step as a scorer, he will have to get better at closing games.

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Tristan Thompson calls Bradley Beal one of the best shooting guards in the league

Tristan Thompson calls Bradley Beal one of the best shooting guards in the league

Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson spoke with reporters after the team's victory over the Wizards Friday night, praising Bradley Beal, who was snubbed from All-Star consideration this season despite averaging nearly 30 points-per-game.

The Cavaliers held the Wizards to just 21 points in the fourth quarter, and Thompson said their main focus was neutralizing Beal.

"The Wizards are really good offensively when they are making their runs," Thompson said postgame. "Bradley Beal is an All-Star in our league. One of the top-three two-guards in our league right now, so we were just trying to make it tough for him."

Beal finished the night with 26 points, but struggled from the floor. Beal shot 9-for-28 from the floor and the Cavaliers' stingy defense was clearly a factor.

Beal and the Wizards will have a chance to get back on track on Sunday night at Capital One Arena when they host the Chicago Bulls for the final time this season.

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