Washington had no use for one of Beal’s last-minute bursts. The Wizards (3-8) were without starting center Thomas Bryant (ACL) and starting point guard Russell Westbrook (quadriceps) but served up a win just when they needed a lift most.
Bryant will miss the rest of the season; Westbrook is out at least a week, the team announced before Monday’s game.
Washington opened with energy anyway, holding the Suns to 15 points in the first quarter and building to a 32-point lead in the second with Phoenix (7-4) playing with none of its usual pop. Second quarters have been troublesome for the Wizards thus far, but three-point specialist Davis Bertans stepped up to drill 5 of 6 attempts from beyond the arc for 15 points in just over nine minutes to help maintain the intensity throughout the first half.
“We’ve played like this in spurts, but I thought tonight we played throughout the game like this,” Coach Scott Brooks said in a virtual news conference. “Obviously our best complete game of the season.”
Beal, back after missing Saturday’s loss to the Miami Heat because of the NBA’s contact-tracing protocols, picked up just where he left off. The guard led with 34 points on 12-for-22 shooting, becoming the fourth NBA player since 1976 to start a season by scoring at least 25 points in each of his first 10 games.
He also had nine assists and eight rebounds after what he described as a “weird” 48 hours. Asked about the general player reaction to the league’s increasing number of postponed games because of the coronavirus, Beal said teams feel as though it’s about when, not if, they will be impacted.
“We kind of know it’s going to hit. Our biggest thing is just trying to contain it and control it as much as you can, I guess,” Beal said. “At least from my standpoint, it’s making sure we’re safe and we’re in the best possible environment, whatever that looks like. I’m sure the league and the [players’ association] are doing everything they can to make sure of that.
“It is getting scary with games being postponed, teams not being able to play and contact tracing. It’s a lot. It’s a lot, but, you know, this is what we agreed to do at the beginning of the year.”
Beal said he has continued to test negative and has been taking an additional daily test since contact tracing began.
On the court, he wasn’t at it alone Monday. Bertans finally clicked into gear after a slow start to the season and scored 18 points, all from deep. Three other starters — point guard Raul Neto (16), center Robin Lopez (11) and forward Rui Hachimura (10) — reached double figures.
In his first start of the season in Bryant’s stead, Lopez helped set the tone at the rim, grabbing 11 rebounds, including seven offensive boards.
“Just trying to help out in any way I can,” Lopez said. “I always try to focus on the defensive end initially, helping my guys down there.”
Washington will need Bertans and Lopez without Bryant and Westbrook to help pad the offense.
Westbrook will miss time with a left quadriceps injury he initially suffered during training camp last month and aggravated at Philadelphia last week.
“The thing about him, he’s as tough as nails. He’s as tough as a competitor as anybody I’ve ever been around as a player and as a coach, and it bothered him,” Brooks said before Monday’s game. “He pushed through it with the treatments and padding and everything, but he never made an excuse, not even to me. I know he knows he could play better. But he’s starting to get better, and then he hit it again, set him back a little bit.”
Though Brooks said Westbrook came to camp healthy, this is the 32-year-old's third injury in the past few months.
A right quad strain caused him to miss eight games, including four in the playoffs, with the Houston Rockets in August. Westbrook also dislocated his finger last week but played Friday in Boston anyway, scoring 12 points on 4-for-16 shooting while committing seven turnovers.
Westbrook played in just one preseason game and had missed three games — all the second half of back-to-backs — on a rest regimen the team mapped out during preseason. The Rockets employed a similar plan last season.