The fall was frightening but the Wizards were encouraged about Bradley Beal’s chances of making a speedy recovery well in advance of the MRI that revealed Saturday afternoon that he had a bone bruise in his left knee.
Before Beal would eventually suit up and score 15 points to help the Wizards defeat the Detroit Pistons, 106-82, the first hint came in the locker room at Target Center after Beal’s ugly fourth-quarter collision with Minnesota Timberwolves forward Luc Mbah a Moute.
“He didn’t have to walk on crutches,” John Wall said of Beal. “That was a big sign that nothing was really bad.”
The next hint came as Beal boarded the flight back from Minneapolis without much struggle. “We all talked to him on the plane and he was feeling okay,” Martell Webster said. “It was just a matter of how he was feeling the next day and what the training staff said. He came on the plane and he was in high spirits, so I was pretty confident.”
And finally, Beal started to believe that his knee would be fine when he woke up and didn’t feel much pain. “It felt great,” Beal said. “So I knew it was hopefully going to be a good sign throughout the day.”
Beal tried to stay positive but wasn’t completely settled until he was informed that the injury wasn’t serious. He decided to take one last step before determining if he would play against the Detroit Pistons and worked out with assistant Sam Cassell without a brace or any protective, compression sleeves on his leg.
“I just came out and did my normal routine,” Beal said. “I didn’t even try to favor it, or just try to work it in, I went out there and did what I was supposed to do, workout-wise. I did fine from the get-go and just continued to do what I was capable.”
In his first six-minute stint, Beal missed his first two shots but was more effective pass the ball as he fed Wall for a jumper, Marcin Gortat for a reverse layup, and Gortat again for a driving layup. When he came back in the second period, Beal scored 10 points in a 2 minute, 30 second span that swung the game completely in the Wizards’ favor.
Beal made a driving layup, hit a step-back fadeaway jumper, then knocked down two three-pointers that helped a seven-point lead balloon to 19.
In the second half, Beal provided the final confirmation that he was all right when he caught a pass from Wall and elevated for a two-handed dunk.
“I thought he was fine,” Coach Randy Wittman said. “I have to kind of read the situation early in the game on how teams are playing him and get a good feel. He said there was no lingering effect of what happened [Friday] night. I wanted to make sure, his first stint, he said nothing, he didn’t feel anything. Afterward he said he felt really good and it was a positive.”