Wizards are figuring out who they can rely on late alongside Bradley Beal


WASHINGTON -- The Washington Wizards have one player who is guaranteed playing time in the fourth quarter: Bradley Beal.

What may seem like an annoyingly obvious statement at first glance could actually be a solid point on the team's late-game rotation. Nobody else is guaranteed minutes down the stretch.

Head coach Scott Brooks really only has Beal locked into a guaranteed spot on the team's closing five. Beyond that, each player must be playing well in the first three quarters to be afforded minutes with the game on the line. 

"It was tempting [to put the starters back in], but [the bench] got the spark," Brooks said. "That team just kept on getting stops, getting stops, fighting through."

It was second-unit players like Ish Smith, Jordan McRae and Davis Bertans who ignited the comeback 125-118 win against the Charlotte Hornets, the Wizards two-game winning streak of the season.

For a team that gave up a shade under 70 points before halftime, holding the Hornets offense to 22 fourth-quarter points was a result of the bench's added tenacity on that side of the court.

Smith had a couple clutch late steals that sparked easy transition offense, McRae had no mercy on his ailing finger and played solid defense late, and Bertans' first-half scoring spree showed Brooks why he can ride the hot hands. 


"Our team is deep," McRae said. "At times, Coach [Brooks] can go with anybody, and that's just a testament to the guys being ready at all times."

The Wizards' roster isn't necessarily deep as it is reliant on players who can win their matchup that night. 

"Really, it all depends on the matchup," Bryant said. "If [Brooks] sees if we can take advantage of a matchup out there, he's going to use the key players he feels can get that matchup and help us win the game."

Players like standout rookie Rui Hachimura, Isaiah Thomas and Troy Brown Jr. sat during the closing stretch. 

Still, the share-friendly, pass-often offense produces an environment with few egos, allowing the team to focus on winning.

"I think we're a team that doesn't worry about rotations," Bertans said. "Whoever has their game going, those guys are going to be in the game and...that's beneficial for the team and I think that's everyone agrees with that."