Wizards

Grizzlies player gained Bradley Beal's respect with his defense

Wizards

NBA leading scorer Bradley Beal is so consistently good these days that a game like Tuesday's where he only scores 23 points on 44.4 percent shooting legitimately means he had an off-night.

Those numbers, if averaged over a full season, might get some players into the All-Star Game. But they pale in comparison to the 32.8 points Beal averages on the year, all while shooting 48.4 percent from the field.

There is a different standard for the Wizards guard, so he could only tip his cap after the Wizards' loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. They played good defense on him, and he thought one player, in particular, deserved a lot of the credit.

"They came in ready to go. I was hearing Dillon Brooks the whole night. He was like, 'I was preparing for this last night to see you.' That's good to hear. He's a competitor and he's always going to make it tough," Beal said.

Brooks, a fourth-year wing out of Oregon, was assigned to Beal for much of the night. He face guarded him all over the court, whether he had the ball or was even close to it. Not only did Beal top out at 23 points, his second-lowest output of the season, he also had six turnovers.

Brooks has become a solid perimeter defender and, as Beal noted, he had clearly done his homework. Beal has become used to that type of attention from opposing teams.

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"It's the ultimate sign of respect," Beal said. "I respect him. He's a gritty guy. He's not the only one, everybody around the league is starting to do it. They know what the scouting report is. Keep the ball out of my hands or force the other guys to make plays. Just make it difficult for me to catch. I think the whole league is gravitating towards that and he did a pretty job of doing that tonight."

Simply not letting Beal shoot is probably a smart move, given he is a threat to score from all three levels. Brooks and the Grizzlies held him to 18 field goal attempts, roughly six fewer than his season average (23.9/g). He also only took six free throws, while averaging 8.2 per game on the season.

The Wizards and Grizzlies will see each other again in one week, on March 10 as they open up the second half of the season. The true test will be whether Brooks and the Grizzlies can fool Beal twice. The odds probably aren't in their favor on that one.