After the Wizards defeated the Chicago Bulls, 86-73, on Saturday night, rookie Bradley Beal had a new accessory to go with his post-game wardrobe: a soft, protective brace with Velcro straps on his right wrist.
“My wrist is bothering me,” Beal said as he held the cast, “but it was a great team win for us. And I’m going to do whatever it takes to help the team win.”
Beal suffered the injury late in the fourth quarter of a win on Jan. 18 in Denver, where Nuggets center Kosta Koufos knocked him down on a baseline drive. He again acknowledged that the setback on his shooting hand has affected his play of late after scoring just four points on 2-of-10 shooting against the Bulls; his second poor performance in the past five games since getting hurt.
The previous night against Minnesota, Beal didn’t appear to have any problems with the wrist as he scored 16 points and set a new career-high with four blocked shots. But as he stated recently, “During the course of the game, your adrenaline is flowing.”
Since getting hurt, Beal is averaging just 9.4 points while shooting 38 percent from the floor (19 of 50) and 27.8 percent (5 of 18) 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. He had a career-high 26 points against Sacramento, the Wizards’ opponent on Monday at Verizon Center.
During the morning shoot-around in Utah, Beal wore some protective tape over his wrist, but he has refused to wear it in games after feeling that it contributed to a poor first half against the Los Angeles Clippers.
“It’s too uncomfortable,” Beal, 19, said of the tape. “It’s resisting my release and the way I shoot it and it’s still not 100 percent the way I want to shoot it, but I’m going to fight through and tough it out. I just got to stay healthy, as best as I can. The trainers are doing a good job of helping me, giving me treatment and things like that. I’ve got to keep taking care of my body.”
Beal’s desire to keep playing through the pain is understandable since he had to wait so long for the Wizards (11-31) to finally starting winning some games. Washington’s current 7-3 run has only strengthened his confidence in what the team can accomplish going forward.
“It’s a different feeling. It’s always fun when you’re winning. What I’m experiencing now, we have the whole team back. We’re just showing what we’re capable of doing,” Beal said, refusing to play the ‘what if’ game and speculating on where the team would be if it had been healthy from the start. “You can’t really use that as an excuse. If you say it, I think we’re one of the best teams by far, but I think we just have to work with what we’ve got and keep going from there.”