WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 31: Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards shoots the ball against the Chicago Bulls on December 31, 2017 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC.
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Wizards grind out 114-110 win over Bulls

Bradley Beal scored 39 points to lead the Wizards
Photos | Box Score

In the final game of 2017, the Wizards were able to pull out a close game against the Bulls, 114-110. Bradley Beal scored 39 points and nearly had a triple-double, John Wall finished with 21 points and nine assists, and Mike Scott added 17 points off the bench. Both teams shot about the same, but the difference was from beyond the arc: 22.9% for the Bulls compared to 44.4% for the Wizards.

The Wizards did not get off to the best start, losing the first quarter 38-30. The Bulls outscored the Wizards 20-8 in the paint, while their 38 points were the second most the Wizards have given up in a first quarter all season. The Bulls were not making their 3-pointers, but made 13-of-18 2-point shots, including several tough midrange shots. On the other hand, the Wizards only made 9-of-23 field goals, but made 5-of-11 3-pointers to only trail by eight heading into the second quarter.

Mike Scott, who finished with 17 points, was once again a spark in the first half, making all five of his shots, including three triples, for 13 points. Beal would have 14 in the first half on 6-for-11 shooting, and Kelly Oubre Jr. added nine points. The Wizards benefitted from poor 3-point shooting in the first half by the Bulls, who only made 3-of-20 triples. The Wizards would make 8-of-17 of their 3-pointers and shoot 51.2% overall in the first half. The lineup of Wall, Beal, Oubre, Porter, and Scott was able to close the first half on a 15-7 run in the final four-plus minutes and cut the deficit to four at the half.

Beal added eight more points in the third quarter, while Markieff Morris added seven rebounds. For the Bulls, Robin Lopez dominated the paint with nine and six rebounds points. The Wizards only shot 9-of-25 in the third quarter, but had 10 second chance points to only trail by six going into the fourth quarter. Washington would finish with 17 second chance points in the second half, which epitomized their hustle.

In a dramatic fourth quarter, the Wizards took their first lead of the second half on a 7-0 run in just 1:41 early in the final period. There would be five ties and seven lead changes in the fourth, as the teams went back-and-forth. With the Wizards trailing 104-101 with 3:14 to go, Marcin Gortat had two offensive rebounds to keep the possession alive, which eventually led to a Beal 3-pointer.

The Wizards trailed by three with 54.0 seconds to go, but Beal had a finger roll layup to bring it within one. Washington then got a stop, and Wall converted a tough and-one layup with 29.4 seconds to go to take the lead back, 112-110. The Wizards would get a key stop on the next defensive possession, and then rebounded Beal’s second missed free throw on a crazy play with 15.7 seconds left. Wall would make both free throws with 9.1 seconds left, and the Wizards got one last stop.

“I thought we locked in. We were physical [and] we didn’t give them a lot of open shots," head coach Scott Brooks said postgame. "That first quarter, they moved us around – we couldn’t stay in front of them. It came down to getting stops, and we’re a good team when we get stops. We keep harping on it and finally did it in the fourth quarter – we had a lot of critical stops."

The Wizards finished the game on a 7-0 run and won the fourth quarter 31-21, anchored by Beal’s 17 points in the final 12 minutes. Beal was the story on Sunday with 39 points, nine rebounds, nine assists, and seven 3-pointers. He became only the sixth player in NBA history to have that stat line, and he was the difference in the game for the Wizards.

“Like I always told you guys from the get-go, I might have games where I don’t might make any, and games where I make seven, and games where I make two," Beal said of his performance. "That doesn’t change my confidence. I continue to shoot the same way, with the same mechanics, and the same mentality. I believe that every shot is going to go in. I was happy and fortunate that they were falling tonight.”

“I’ve been saying this – going on the second year now – that Brad’s an All-Star," Brooks said of Beal. "It’s not just the 23 points, it’s the defensive play that he does, it’s the passing. We’re very blessed, we have two guys in the backcourt that are All-Stars."

“He's able to stay aggressive and still be hot ball [moving the ball quickly] so [he] makes the right reads at the right time – finding guys with open shots," Wall said of Beal. "Using [him], when you get hot or be aggressive, as a decoy at times, and also being able to get to the basket and finish at will. He's already shooting the ball very well but the way he attacks the basket, plays it a mid-range game, I think he should have had 10 assists today. He should have had a double-double, maybe a triple-double, but the way he played was big for us and helped us get the win.”

The Bulls were only 7-of-18 from the field with six turnovers in the fourth quarter, as the Wizards rallied back thanks to their defense to win. The Wizards locked in defensively when it mattered the most, and finished the 2017 year on a high note.

To kick off 2018, the Wizards host the Knicks on January 3 at 7:00pm in the first matchup of the season between the two teams.