Wizards

Beal is heating up, shown by calling his shot on Gobert dunk

Wizards

Jazz center Rudy Gobert had already blocked one of Bradley Beal's shots and five more against his teammates when Beal felt he had seen enough. While the two were standing around during free throws in the third quarter, Beal issued a warning to the three-time Defensive Player of the Year.

"I looked at him and I said 'I'm gonna dunk on your ass.' He started laughing," Beal said. "I said 'alright, I'm gonna try you. You might block it. You're blocking too many shots tonight, we've gotta try you.'"

With just under three minutes left in the third quarter, Beal blew past Joe Ingles at the 3-point line and caught Gobert with a monster poster dunk, right on his head. Gobert was a step slow closing on Beal and Beal made him pay.

Bradley Beal puts Rudy Gobert on a poster with an emphatic slam

The fact Beal was able to call his shot was yet another indication he's feeling pretty good about himself right now. After a slow start to the season by his standards, lately he's been heating up.

Beal had a season-high 37 points in Saturday's win over the Jazz, which snapped a four-game losing streak for the Wizards. He shot 13-of-24 (54.2%) from the field, 2-for-5 from three and 9-for-10 from the free throw line. He also added seven assists, five rebounds and a block.

"It's just a matter of time before I just find my rhythm and trust it," Beal said.

Beal, 28, is now averaging 27.4 points over his last seven games while shooting 53.5% overall and 37.0% from three. Those numbers are up quite a bit from his season averages of 23.3 points on 45.6% from the field and 28.3% from deep.

 

Beal may not be scoring 30-plus points per game and leading the Eastern Conference as he did the last two seasons, but he's moving in that direction, getting back to being the elite scorer the Wizards are used to having in their lineup.

"He's been in a rhythm the last few games. We just want to keep him there," Kentavious Caldwell-Pope said. "He's our top scorer and one that when we need a bucket, we can look at him and go to him."

Beal has been finding his groove early in recent games. He had 20 points in the first half on Saturday, the third straight game he's scored at least 19 points by halftime.

He says it's a matter of him being on the attack.

"For me, it's just changing my mindset and being more aggressive. That's who I am, I'm a scorer. That's who I am, that's what I do. I do that to the best of my ability all while being creative and accepting this new role that I have," Beal said.

Beal went into further detail saying this season he is trying to defer to his teammates a bit more, knowing this season the Wizards have more veterans capable of scoring and play-making. Though it hasn't come to fruition yet, as the Wizards rank 22nd in offensive efficiency, he's trying to trust the big-picture plan laid out by head coach Wes Unseld Jr.

Beal, however, has shown in recent games the power of looking for his own shot and forcing the issue on opposing defenses. He's got the hot hand and on Saturday it helped lead to a Wizards win.