Bradley Beal arrived in San Antonio having scored a total of 90 points in his first seven preseason games. He boarded a plan back to Washington late Friday night with the same point total after the Wizards lost, 100-85, to the Spurs.
Yes, Beal played, though not very well and went scoreless in 19 minutes.
Coach Randy Wittman said there were times during the game when he “just kind of, I didn’t even know he was on the floor there.”
It wasn’t just that Beal failed to score. He also didn’t try to attack the basket and get to the foul line and grabbed just one rebound and had one assist.
Beal missed all six of his shot attempts — including an errant, eyesore, corner three-point attempt in the third quarter that had so much height on it that the ball hit the top of the backboard.
“After that, I was like, I’m not shooting no more,” Beal said with an uncomfortable laugh as he shook his head. “It hit the top of the backboard. It didn’t hit the side.”
Beal actually took one more shot, a 20-foot jumper that missed badly, but he admitted that he got upset when his first few shots didn’t drop — especially a short runner in the lane that rimmed out. He usually keeps his cool, but looked visibly flustered.
“I got heated in my head about that,” he said. “I got frustrated with myself. I can’t allow myself to do that, but it’s a learning process for me. I’m glad it happened now in the preseason as opposed to the regular season, but I definitely have to change my mentality.”
Wittman decided to finally, mercifully end Beal’s night early in the fourth quarter after he threw a bad pass and was later called for fouling Gary Neal on a three-pointer. The veteran Neal certainly sold the call — Wittman and Martell Webster both argued with the officials that Neal kicked out his leg to draw contact.
Still, when it was time to leave, Beal lowered his head and meekly walked to the bench. He looked like he was ready to go.
“Mentally I wasn’t focused on this game. I don’t know what was going on,” Beal said, “but most definitely, I’ve got to stay confident. I have to work on my mental approach to every game.”
When Beal needed a second-half rally to finish with just nine points against Miami on Wednesday, his slow start was attributed to Dwyane Wade attacking him and getting him in early foul trouble.
Beal’s poor outing against the Spurs wasn’t because he matched up with Danny Green, though Green was focused on keeping him contained. Beal simply missed shots he usually makes to start the game and lost his way.
“That’s going to happen,” Wittman said. “I thought he had four great looks in the first quarter, that he’s normally been knocking down and that allowed him to take his aggression away.”
Beal is bound to have his ups and downs as a rookie, but the preseason helped him get a better understanding of the challenges he will face. More importantly, it let him know that he has to be prepared to compete, even on his sixth consecutive road game.
After seeing his scoring drop in each of his past five games — from 14 points, to 13, to 11, to 10, to nine, to zero — Beal is eager for the regular season to begin on Tuesday in Cleveland. And to thankfully put a game that doesn’t count in his rear view.
“I definitely got to redeem myself,” Beal said. “I mean, this is what I’ve been waiting for. It all starts now.”