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Beal scores 40 again as Wizards beat Grizzlies, 135-128
Bradley Beal is playing on a different level. On Friday night, he scored 40 points in a tough loss to the Hornets. Saturday, he was back for more, and the end result was different. Beal poured in 40 points again (seven assists, five rebounds), leading the Wizards to a needed bounce-back win over Memphis in D.C., 135-128. Washington moved to 9-4 on the season on the second night of back-to-backs.
The Wizards’ All-Star is playing at an All-NBA level, and he used it to come just shy of franchise history. Beal hit a career-high nine 3-pointers, just one short of the franchise record of 10 set by Trevor Ariza in his first stop in Washington. He had needed help Saturday to win a shootout. Jabari Parker continued to be a matchup issue for opponents off the bench, scoring 20 points and adding 12 rebounds, while Bobby Portis scored 18. Jeff Green and Tomas Satoransky scored 15 points apiece.
"The way (Beal’s) playing, the way he's improved, the way he's led, my very biased opinion he's All-NBA,” said head coach Scott Brooks. “He's doing things that that level of player does night in and night out. It's not an every-other-night [thing], it's not a two-out-of-three nights, it's every night he brings it. I think his last he's had like one bad shooting night and that was at Charlotte last week.
“He's playing good basketball. He's leading us, that's what he expects himself to do every night. He played a lot of minutes last night. The way he was watching our pregame film, you would have thought he would not play at all but he knows how important it is to lead us and step up and that's what he's been doing all year."
Saturday’s game was filled with razor-thin margins, featuring 20 ties and 20 lead changes. For the first three quarters, both teams had a hard time missing. Three Grizzlies scored 20+ points on the night, with Mike Conley’s 28 points and 12 assists leading the way. Avery Bradley (21 points) and Jonas Valanciunas (22 points) joined Conley in a strong start to help Memphis to a 37-point first and a two point lead. Both teams lit up the scoreboard from 3-point range in the first, with the Wizards hitting seven and the Grizzlies hitting eight. For the game, Washington kept an important edge in the category, shooting nearly 50% and hitting 17 from deep.
Memphis gained significant ground for the first and only time in the second quarter, as Conley scored 10 points and guided an 11-4 run to start the frame. Washington responded quickly, going on a 22-11 run of their own to tie the game with just under two minutes remaining in the half. The Grizzlies took a two-point lead into the break, a one-possession advantage that would become the norm throughout the night.
Washington took it’s largest lead of the game (until the final score) in the third, using a quick 14-4 run out of the halftime gate to go up by six. But just as quickly as the Wizards figured to gain on Memphis, the Grizzlies fired back to bring the game back within a bucket, where the score went back and forth for the remainder of the period.
For as even as the game seemed, the Wizards played an offensive game that made the difference in the end. Washington was outscored in the paint badly (62-38), but made up for it by relentlessly attacking anyway. The Wizards went to the free throw line 43 times, hitting 36 (83%). More importantly – in addition to a prolific night from 3-point range – they controlled the rebounding battle 45-40 and limited the Grizzlies to just seven offensive rebounds.
Beal continued to dominate in the fourth quarter, hitting his ninth 3-pointer of the night and a critical driving lay-in just ahead of the 5:00 mark to put the Wizards up seven. The Grizzlies went ice cold in the final frame, hitting just 31.8% from the field. In the final minute of the game, a Green 3-pointer and another Beal lay-up sealed the victory for Washington.
“We are positive,” said Beal. “I know I am. At the end of the day I want to make the playoffs and I’m sure everybody else in here does too. We are not out of until the end of year comes and the last games are done and over with, so we are going to keep fighting and pushing, because we got a good chance. It’s going to be tough but if we play the way we have been playing the last couple games, I love the direction we are heading in.”
Game four of the five-game homestand is Monday night as the Wizards welcome in Utah for their first meeting this season. Tip-off against the Jazz is set for 7:00 P.M. ET.