Bradley Beal woke up Thursday morning feeling pretty sore after suffering a hip pointer the night before in collision with Phoenix Suns forward Marcus Morris.
“I was struggling getting out of bed. I knew that going in,” Beal said.
Beal absorbed the hit from Morris and crashed into the floor while chasing down a loose ball in the second quarter of the Wizards’ 99-93 loss. Unable to get up without some help from teammate Trevor Ariza, Beal left the game momentarily to get treatment and managed to return to finish the game. He didn’t bother trying to watch the replay.
“I knew what happened. I wasn’t investigating,” Beal said. “It was a play that happened in the game. I’m sure it didn’t happen intentionally, but it just happened. Hopefully, this thing goes away pretty soon. I think once I get going it’ll start loosening up and once I do that, I’ll be fine.”
After working with the trainers, Beal was able to practice and is expected to suit up when the Wizards try to get their first victory in three tries this season tonight against the Indiana Pacers.
Beal scored just eight points against the Suns, missing all five of his shots after he returned but refused to use his ailment as an excuse.
The performance ended a career-high string of 11 consecutive games with at least 15 points scored and another string of 14 games with at least one three-pointer made. But it also continued a more troubling trend – Beal has failed to shoot above 50 percent in every game since Feb. 25, a string of 14 straight. Beal has shot just 38.7 percent (90 of 232) over that time.
“Pretty much every team tries to deny me the ball, make sure I don’t come off screens, off the dribble. Teams are recognizing it and it’s up to me to find a way to get past it,” Beal said. “Got to credit some of the defenses, in terms of me not getting the shots I always want, but at the same time, they’re not all falling. Some games they fall, some games they don’t. I don’t really pay attention to it. I move on to the next game if I have a good one and soon enough, I’ll have a good run. For me, I’ve just got to stay consistent and I’ve got to stay confident, just keep shooting the ball.”
Beal hit some huge shots in the fourth quarter of the Wizards’ win in Milwaukee on March 8, but his most memorable plays this month have been on the defensive end. He had a game-saving block in Orlando, sneaking up behind Jameer Nelson to help the Wizards claim one of just three wins in their past nine games.
Coach Randy Wittman has been pleased with Beal’s ability to make contributions in other areas while waiting for his shot to fall more consistently. “Whether it’s the first week of the season or the last, it’s ups and downs with guys and their offensive game,” Wittman said. “You see that with everybody. It’s a period he’s going through. He’s got to stay confident. Those are good shots and those are shots that we want him to take and that’s all I want him to do. But obviously, the defense is keyed up a bit differently than it was last year with him becoming a better player. But a better player, the harder it becomes.”
Beal has taken 37 percent his shots between 16 and 24 feet – generally considered the most inefficient spot on the floor – and he has connected on just 35.8 percent (133 of 371) from that range this season.
“You have to keep shooting the ball, no matter how many you miss, you make shots, you’ve just got to keep shooting, keep shooting, keep shooting,” Beal said. “That’s what these guys tell me to do. ‘Stay in a rhythm, whenever you have a shot take it,’ because it’s probably the best shot for our team. That’s what I’m known for doing. So that’s what I have to continue to do.”
Beal has already played six more games this season than he did all of his last season. He has played through playing time restrictions, overcome another stress injury in his right leg and has given his team several scares. He suffered a bone bruise in Minnesota, sprained his ankle in Orlando and then had his hip injury against Phoenix. If he has any other ailments, Beal won’t mention but he also realizes that he has to fight through it all with the Wizards playing for their first playoff berth since 2008.
“You could use it as an excuse but I’m not going to. Because everybody probably feels the same way you do. Guys are tired. Everybody has injuries at this time of the year, so to me, it’s all mental,” Beal said. “It’s tough, just knowing your limit and me being injured last year and the early part of this year, you definitely have to be smart. My trainers and I have come to an agreement, if I feel I can go, I’m going to go, like always. And I’m not going to take the chance and right now, it’s gut check time and whatever it takes to win, I’m going to help my team.
“I’m not the only one hurt on this team or any other team. It comes down to being physically tough and mentally tough, and overcoming it.”