Wizards’ Bradley Beal doubtful for Lakers game, A.J. Price uncertain on return


Might not see this combo on Friday night. (Getty Images)

The Wizards’ back court took another hit on Wednesday when rookie Bradley Beal crashed on his already-sore left ankle in the fourth quarter of an 88-79 win over the Phoenix Suns. Beal walked out of U.S. Airways Center with the assistance of a protective boot and is doubtful for Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

John Wall and Garrett Temple have had to log more minutes in recent weeks, with Beal missing six of the past nine games with his sprained ankle and A.J. Price missing the past five games with a sore right groin.

Price joined the Wizards on their four-game road trip but said that doesn’t mean that he’s any closer to returning, because he remains limited to free throws and jumpers in practice and still moves with a noticeable limp.

“I just want to be around everybody. I’m the type that likes to be with the team. I’m not really sure if I’ll be get able to get out there right now,” Price said. “I’m getting better. Slowly but surely feeling good. Not really sure about when I’ll be able to go 100 percent, but definitely getting better.”

Price said that he has been playing through pain in the area for nearly a month.

“I can’t put my finger on when,” Price said. “After the Cleveland game, it was like I couldn’t do it anymore. I just remember trying to chase down [Cavaliers rookie shooting guard Dion] Waiters on one of those fast breaks and I just felt it pull. It got really tight on me.”

After the Wizards lost, 95-90, on March 12 in Cleveland, Price sat silently for several minutes with a towel covering his face and an ice pack inside his compression shorts. He explained that his disgusted look was for more than scoring just three points on 1-of-7 shooting.

“I was hurt. Didn’t play well and was injured on top of that. Just wasn’t a good day for me at all.”

Price is averaging career highs of 7.1 points and four assists in his fourth season, starting 22 games while Wall was sidelined and returning from a 15-game absence from a broken hand to have some big games as a backup. His first injury opened the door for the team to sign Temple. If Price and Beal are forced to miss much more time, the Wizards might have to seek a reinforcement and waive Leandro Barbosa, who is done for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

“He’s doing things. Not there yet. Will it be on this trip? I don’t know,” Coach Randy Wittman. “It’s heading the right direction. When he comes back, I don’t know.”

Price is anxious to get back with the team playing better since Wall returned to action. “Been playing well. Let one get away from us [in Charlotte] but we’ve been playing well as a team, so that’s been real encouraging to see. Trying to put a good stretch together, coming down to the end of the year.”

The Wizards didn’t practice on Thursday.

Michael Lee is the national basketball writer for The Washington Post.

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Michael Lee · March 21, 2013

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