Beal logged minutes in the fourth quarter again Sunday night, but it felt different as the Wizards blew out the Golden State Warriors, 124-110, and made his scoring effort worthwhile.
Beal scored a game-high 34 points, setting a franchise record with 18 consecutive games with at least 25. He moved ahead of Walt Bellamy, who had owned the previous mark for 58 years. As Beal played the role of scorer-in-chief and led the Wizards' stunning display of outside shooting, Washington (22-37) built a 21-point lead in the second half and didn't need him to carry the burden in the game's final minutes.
"It was God playing," Beal said, in awe of his sizzling 10-for-24 shooting, including 7 for 9 from three-point range. "I don't know who that guy was tonight."
Beal, who also shared the ball for eight assists in his 35 minutes, made five threes in the first quarter. Davis Bertans went 8 for 10 from beyond the arc overall and finished with 29 points off the bench. The Wizards shot 20 for 30 from three-point range, and Beal and Bertans became the first teammates in franchise history to make at least seven threes in the same game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"They didn't pay that much attention to me on defense," Bertans said. "Brad was hurting them, and we were hurting them in different ways. I guess in the second half, they had to change something and started helping off of me."
During Beal's milestone 18-game stretch, blowouts have been uncommon. The Wizards have gone 9-9, and before Sunday they had won only four of those games by 10 points or more. Beal has poured in points even when some of his greatest offensive displays have been marred by deflating losses.
"He can score," Wizards Coach Scott Brooks said. "If he really wanted to score 40 every night, he's going to have a good opportunity to do that. But he wants to get our team better."
Beal has scored 36.4 points per game in the 18-game stretch, and he appeared to be on pace for many more than that when he scored 22 of the team's 35 points in the first quarter. He eclipsed Bellamy with 44 seconds remaining in the first half with a three-pointer that boosted his personal total to 27 points and gave the Wizards an eight-point lead.
Much like in most of the games during the stretch, Washington required Beal's herculean efforts early on just to beat back its opponent, which in this case was the NBA's worst team.
Golden State, playing without its three stars, found just as many holes in the Wizards' defense. The Warriors thrived in the paint, and Marquese Chriss tied the score at 55 with 2:37 remaining in the first half after breaking free for a dunk. Only Beal's prolific output enabled Washington to take a 63-57 lead into halftime.
In surviving the 27-point half from Beal, as well as the Wizards making 11 of 16 threes, the Warriors (13-48) set up the potential for a competitive game after intermission. These days, that's all they can ask for.
The Warriors have shuffled in rookies and G-League players and used 31 different starting lineups while its stars have been injured. Klay Thompson has missed the entire season as he rehabilitates his torn left ACL, and Stephen Curry has not played since he broke his left hand Oct. 30. Draymond Green joined Curry on the sideline Sunday as he nursed a knee injury.
"This . . . for sure has been a different type of season," Warriors Coach Steve Kerr said. "We had to focus more on details with these young guys than we've had to in the last five years."
The Wizards, too, have dedicated the year to development. But unlike the Warriors, Washington has a healthy star who can score 25 or more points at will.
When Beal cooled off in the third quarter — and expanded his game by collecting assists and finishing with five steals overall — his teammates pitched in. Bertans and rookie Rui Hachimura (15 points) broke loose in particular, and Washington created separation while outscoring Golden State 31-19 in the period.
The Wizards led 94-76 at the start of the fourth quarter and maintained control in the opening minutes of the period. Even with the game well in hand, Beal returned to the court with 8:37 to play. Soon after checking back in, he drilled another three. Beal would play until 2:12 remained and Brooks subbed in bench players. He finally walked off the court with another milestone to prove his status as one of the franchise's best scorers, but also on this night as a winner.
"He's a consistent winner, and that's what it's about," Brooks said. "In this league, you can have a game here, a game there, but in order to be special you have to play with that consistent play, and Brad does. He comes in and brings it."
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