Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal hopes to return against Charlotte


I’d like to come back…if I can. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Bradley Beal’s face-engulfing, thick-rimmed, nerdy glasses didn’t have prescription lenses but he didn’t really need any visual assistance to recognize that he was watching history unfold on Friday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Sidelined for the second straight game with a sprained left ankle, Beal had a front-row seat as Brooklyn Nets guard Deron Williams torched the Wizards for an NBA-record nine first-half three pointers in a 95-78 victory. Williams finished with 11 three-pointers — one shy of the NBA record — and scored 42 points, the most by any Wizards opponent this season.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Beal said. “I think we gave him a lot of easy shots, way too many easy looks, open ones at that. He was confident, knocking them down. And when you’re in the zone like that — I’ve been in zones like that before — it’s hard to stop you. The hoop looks like an ocean, a big old basket. He definitely got the best of us.”

Beal is hoping that he can return to action on Saturday to help the Wizards end their two-game slide when they host the Charlotte Bobcats at 8 p.m.

The Wizards (19-41) have struggled all season without one of their top players in the lineup and are now 7-35 when Beal, John Wall or Nene sits. They are now 2-7 without Beal, who sprained his left ankle late in the fourth quarter of the Wizards’ 90-87 win on Sunday over Philadelphia.

“I’m feeling better,” Beal said. “Hopefully, I’ll be able to give it a go. I’ll come in a little earlier [on Saturday], treat it a little, and see how it feels before.”

Beal has been steadily increasing his work load, shooting standstill free throws and doing some light running at shootarounds.

“I tried to move on it a little bit, run on it a little bit,” he said. “It has its aches and pains here and there, but I’m trying to get to a point where I can manage the pain. I’m going to play through it. If I have to where I can tolerate it, I’m going to play.”

Having ditched the crutches after two days, Beal now wears a protective ankle sleeve wrapped tightly.

“Swelling is going down,” Beal said. “I always have to make sure I have some compression on it, because it’ll blow up like a blow fish in a second. Just making sure I keep an eye on it and keep icing it and doing what I’m doing, listening to the trainers.”

After watching Williams erupt, Beal walked over to congratulate the former all-star guard at half court.

“I just told him good game. He told me get healthy,” Beal said, before flashing a grin when asked if he hoped some of that hot shooting was transferred during the handshake. “I wish.”

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.
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Michael Lee · March 9, 2013