Bradley Beal wouldn’t blame the second-worst shooting night of his career on fatigue or tired legs after the Wizards played the second end of back-to-back games on Saturday against the Detroit Pistons.
“I only played five minutes” on Friday, Beal said with a laugh while exaggerating his total against Chicago the previous night, when he played just 23 minutes – seven below his allowed time – because of foul trouble.
When asked to explain the reason for going 2 for 14 from the floor and 1 for 7 from long distance for a season-low seven points in the Wizards’ 104-98 loss to the Pistons, Beal could only shrug and shake his head.
“Your guess is as good as mine,” Beal said.
Beal started off the scoring in the game when he caught a pass from John Wall in the right corner and made a three-pointer. He missed his next two shots before taking his mandatory breather in the first quarter, but returned at the start of the second period and knocked down a fadeaway baseline jumper over Andre Drummond to give the Wizards a 31-22 lead.
After that, the nightmare began as Beal missed his last 10 shots.
“Bradley goes 2 for 14, a lot of the shots, as the last one was, were wide open, but I don’t really believe that was the reason we lost,” Coach Randy Wittman said after the game, citing rebounding and second-chance points as the difference in a loss that snapped a three-game winning streak. “You can miss shots, but if you get stops at the other end, which we showed in our last game and we didn’t particularly play as well from an offensive standpoint, but we did things at the other end. When you have a game like that, then we miss 13 free throws out there too, you combine those things and that’s probably what happened with this.”
Beal went up for a short jumper over Pistons reserve guard Rodney Stuckey, which was blocked and led to a jump ball. He had a layup attempted along the baseline altered by Pistons reserve Kyle Singler.
Harassed on drives by Pistons rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – who had three steals – and unable to hit several open looks, Beal sank deeper and deeper into a canyon of clanks. He was so off-target that after shooting a layup over the basket in the final minutes, Beal stumbled while trying to get a steal and slapped Drummond in the face.
“I think it was just my momentum,” Beal said. “I wasn’t trying to hit him in the face. I was pretty frustrated because I missed five layups at that point. But I wasn’t really trying to foul him.”
Beal’s worst shooting performance with at least 10 field goal attempts continues to be a 1-for-11 outing at Charlotte on Nov. 13, 2012, in his first month in the NBA. He also had two games in which he shot 0-for-5 and another in which he shot just 1 for 7 as a rookie.
Before Saturday, his season low was nine points (three times), including Nov. 12 in Dallas, where he shot just 2 of 10.
Beal has often bounced back from those performances with better efforts the next game. He followed up the game in Dallas with 19 points in San Antonio. He had 14 points against Minnesota on Dec. 27 after scoring just nine points in Boston (on 3-of-12 shooting). And he had 21 points in Charlotte after being held to nine points against Golden State (on 4-of-15 shooting).
Though his field percentage for the season dipped from 41.3 percent to 40.5 after the loss to Detroit, Beal kept it all in perspective.
“That’s one thing I’ve learned, my life isn’t that hard, it’s not that tough,” Beal said. “I’m 20 years old in the NBA, what could be so difficult? I have a bad game, but I have another one in 24 hours or less. You definitely have to have amnesia and just continue to move forward.”