Wizards’ Bradley Beal might be forced to sit with wrist injury

January 29, 2013
If I block this, this might hurt. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
If I block this, it might hurt. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Bradley Beal has tried to “fight through” his right wrist injury ever since his awkward landing on Jan. 18 after a hard fall in Denver. Beal got up and made two critical free throws in the Wizards’ 112-108 victory that night, but his shooting form and accuracy haven’t been the same. And after being held to just six points and getting benched for all but three minutes in the fourth quarter of Monday’s loss to Sacramento, Beal has decided that it might be time to take a rest.

“I’m a tough kid. I feel as though it has to be broke in order for me not to play,” Beal said. “At the same time, I want a long career in this league and I have to take care of my body and I have to do what’s best for myself and my team. And I feel if I can’t make shots for my team then there is no purpose for me being on the floor. I’m definitely going to continue to support my team and just try to let this thing heal on its own.”

“I have to take time off,” Beal said. “It’s hard to do that, but I have to live with it.”

Beal was held out of Tuesday’s practice and wore a protective brace over his wrist, with a splint to limit its movement. Coach Randy Wittman said he sat Beal as a precautionary measure but wasn’t certain if the rookie would be available when the Wizards take on the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday at Wells Fargo Center.

“I’m anticipating yes, but obviously I think there is a chance maybe not. We’ll see,” Wittman said.

In his past six games since getting injured, Beal has been slumping, averaging just 8.8 points while shooting 35.7 percent from the floor (20 of 56) and 30 percent (6 of 20) from beyond the three-point line. In his first nine games in January, Beal averaged 19.2 points while shooting 47.7 percent from the floor (64 of 134) and 60.4 percent (26 of 43) from long distance and posted five 20-point games, including a career-high 26 points in Sacramento on Jan. 16.

Beal shot just 2 of 6 in Monday’s rematch against the Kings but was adamant that his wrist hadn’t given him any trouble during the game. Wittman, however, felt that Beal appeared hampered, which led him to lean more on Jordan Crawford and Trevor Ariza down the stretch. He added that the team will have to be careful with a 19-year-old who has a strong desire to be on the floor, no matter what.

“You’ve got to keep that in mind,” Wittman said. “I like that in any of my players that want to tough through it. There is a difference between an injury and being hurt. He’s a tough kid, he wants to play. We also have to have an understanding that if it’s affecting his play to a certain extent then you have to look at some rest.”

If he is forced to miss any games, Beal said that there would be no timetable and he wouldn’t play until his hand got right. “I guess it’s somewhat day-to-day and see how it feels in the next few days and then let it heal. I’ve been playing a lot. Maybe that’s what it is. It’s a little injury,” he said. “It’s not 100 percent. If I feel as though I’m can’t help the team like I was previously, then I’m not going even going to play.”

Beal has managed to play through the pain, but he credits that an adrenaline rush that eventually wears down over the course of the game. “When you’re in a game, you’re going, going, and going. And then, all of a sudden, it starts hurting and then adrenaline stops. And you’re just thinking about your wrist all the time, or your injuries. It comes a point where I’m sitting on the bench and it starts aching.”

Beal has only missed two games his rookie season, and that came after Hawks forward Josh Smith blocked his layup attempt and Beal landed on his backside and banged his head on the hardwood. Nuggets center Kosta Koufos knocked him down as he attempted a baseline drive.

“I haven’t been the same ever since. It was just the fall,” Beal said. “My shot’s not even the same. If you see it, it’s totally different. And I can feel it in my wrist. It bothers me. [During the game against Sacramento,] for some reason, it wasn’t bothering me. But now, it just came back, so I’m not going to keep irritating it and making it worse.”

Koufos didn’t receive any more than a personal foul on the play and Beal said the incident didn’t warrant any more action from the referees or the league.

“Whenever somebody lands like that, you always question whether or not it was a flagrant or not,” Beal said. “But if a player makes a play on the ball – like Josh Smith, he made a play on the ball – I wasn’t mad at all. I was mad ‘cause I fell, but I couldn’t be mad because he made a play on the ball and I think the guy from Denver made a play on the ball as well. He asked me if I was all right, and it wasn’t a dirty play. So I’m not holding a grudge against him.”

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.
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Michael Lee | January 29, 2013