CHICAGO — Bradley Beal stated his opinion, and he wasn’t taking it back.
Late Wednesday night, after the Washington Wizards’ 126-120 overtime loss to the shorthanded yet opportunistic Chicago Bulls, Beal complimented his opponent. The Bulls fought hard even without two of their best players. Beal then moved on to his own team.
“We just didn’t want to win,” Beal said. “We didn’t want to win.”
When asked whether he wanted to clarify the statement, Beal repeated his words in the same frustrated tone.
“You watched the game,” Beal said to a reporter. “You know what that means. We didn’t want to win.”
The Bulls (21-52) — despite playing without former Wizard Otto Porter Jr. (rotator cuff) and Zach LaVine (thigh) — made clutch shots and locked down the Wizards, forcing six straight missed shots in overtime. Washington’s only points after regulation came from the free throw line.
The loss all but flatlined the Wizards’ playoff hopes, dropping them to 30-42 and just 8-28 away from Capital One Arena.
“It’s frustrating that we lost knowing that we’re fighting for something and we were that close to winning,” Bobby Portis said. “We did some great things, but we did some bad things too.”
Perhaps the Wizards’ second-quarter offense could have been classified as “great.” Portis made three of his six shot attempts, and Washington connected on nearly 60 percent from the field.
That efficiency didn’t last, however, and almost everything on the opposite side of the floor fell under the category of “bad things.”
Minus Porter and LaVine, Lauri Markkanen was the Bulls’ main offensive threat, and Portis opted to get physical with him in the final minute of regulation — perhaps a little too much so. As Markkanen went to the rim with 50.5 seconds remaining, Portis raked him across the face twice. Portis was called for a flagrant-one foul, and Markkanen made both free throws to expand Chicago’s lead to 112-109.
“I was going for the ball,” Portis explained after the game. “I can’t control what happens after I go for the ball, but it was not a dirty play at all. What happened happened.”
Although Beal hit a baseline jumper in the waning moments of regulation to force overtime, the Wizards broke down defensively in the extra frame.
Kris Dunn knocked down a pair of three-pointers, while Markkanen, who scored a game-high 32 points, made a clutch three-pointer with 32.3 seconds remaining with a little help from Lopez’s screen as Jabari Parker (28 points) and Portis, both former Bulls, watched.
“We gave up way too many offensive rebounds,” Coach Scott Brooks said. “We made some mistakes defensively at critical times, but both teams fought and played hard.”
In his postgame session, Beal, who finished with 27 points, offered a different view.
“I mean, they were hungry,” Beal said of a Bulls team that features a mix of players fighting for new deals. “They’re hungry. They want to play. They’re taking advantage of the opportunity and kicked our ass.”
As Beal unleashed a torrent of monotone criticism, another reporter asked whether he was past the point of frustration. Beal, his eyes staring past the horde of media, responded flatly: “I’m all right.”
But an uncharacteristic show of pent-up annoyance soon indicated he was far from all right. The sight of a devoured postgame spread of Chicago-style pizza and wings ticked off Beal. He had played nearly 44 minutes, but as one of the last players to leave the locker room, all he found were picked-over trays.
Beal was angered by his own failings — he missed a free throw and committed a pair of turnovers in overtime. For the game, Beal missed four free throws and turned it over six times.
“Growth. That’s all,” Beal said about handling the roller coaster of the Wizards’ season. “Just constantly taking positives out of it, just seeing how I can get better and make my team better. A lot of it falls on me. I got to step up more and do better. Stop turning the ball over and make my free throws and make sure we’re ready to go every time we step on the floor. We weren’t ready to go tonight.
“We got to be better. That’s all I can say. It starts with me,” Beal continued. “We got to be better.”
The Wizards face the Denver Nuggets on Thursday at Capital One Arena to complete the second night of a back-to-back set, and they may be missing a regular starter.
Trevor Ariza played 14 minutes in the first half, making two of three three-pointers for six points, but he strained his left groin and did not return to play in the second half. Rookie Troy Brown Jr. started the second half in Ariza’s spot.