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Beal's 39-point night propels Wizards to 122-115 win over Knicks
Bradley Beal scored a game-high 39 points to lead the Wizards (24-40) over the Knicks (20-45) 122-115 on Tuesday night at Capital One Arena. The back-and-forth affair featured double-digit comebacks from each team, including an 18-point swing in the Wizards favor in the second half.
"It was a strange game,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said. “We're up 14, all of a sudden we're down 18, then we're up again by 14. It was just a weird game. I thought Brad took over the game. At halftime we talked about it, we need to play tougher, we need to be locked in. Their bench was on pace for 82 points. I thought we did a much better job in the third quarter [with] the physicality of the game that we started the game with.”
Davis Bertans also made a bit of franchise history, hitting his 200th 3-pointer of the season, becoming just the third Wizards player to hit that mark in a single season. Bertans is now 23 triples shy of Beal’s single-season franchise record (223) set in 2016-17.
With Ish Smith (left hamstring tightness) missing his third consecutive game, Isaac Bonga (groin contusion) out and Jerome Robinson (left Achilles soreness) on a minutes restriction, Shabazz Napier was again called upon to handle a heavy workload. Coming off season highs in minutes and points on Sunday, Napier was outstanding again, scoring 21 points on 6-12 (.500) from the field and 6-6 (1.000) from the free throw line to go along with six assists and three steals.
“Today I just tried to navigate certain areas of the game where I know I have a little expertise and understood that,” Napier said postgame. Credit to the guys giving me a chance to do so. The biggest thing to me is always lead by actions and for the first couple games that's what I was trying to do. Now it's just feeling more comfortable with the guys and explaining to them what I see out there."
The Wizards raced out to an early 9-0 lead in the game’s first 1:55, part of a 21-7 run to start the game. Thomas Bryant set the pace early on, scoring nine of the team’s first 21 points, including the 3-pointer that put Washington up 14. On the ensuing possession, however, Bobby Portis hit a three to spark a Knicks comeback. Just over four minutes later, the Knicks took a 27-26 lead on a Portis layup, part of a 63-33 New York run over the final 17 minutes of the first half. The Wizards shot 41.2% from the field, but were dominated on the boards and in the paint. New York shot 14-19 (.736) in the paint, outscoring the Wizards 28-14.
A bright spot for the Wizards in the first half: Rui Hachimura’s return to form. After a two-game slump without a made field goal, Hachimura made his first three on his way to a 10-point, four-rebound first half.
“It's about competing and growing and getting better game-by-game,” Brooks said. “It's always a learning curve for everybody in this league. As for a rookie, to me, he's done a just a terrific job of really picking up things as fast as we want to give it to him."
Everything flipped for the Wizards in the second half. Down 18 with just over eight minutes left in the third, Washington ripped off a 29-11 run to close the quarter tied at 87. Beal tallied eight points in a span of 48 seconds mid-way through the quarter, propelled by a pair of threes on consecutive possessions, to cut the lead from 13 to five. Beal did most of the damage for the Wizards, scoring 20 points on 5-9 (.555) from the field and 7-7 (1.000) from the free throw line in the third.
The Wizards’ success seamlessly carried over from the third to the fourth quarter. After trading buckets in the first few minutes of the frame, Washington went on a 13-2 run to take a 14-point lead with four minutes to go. After the Knicks answered with a 6-0 run of their own, Troy Brown Jr. hit a three to get the Wizards back on track and then a pair of free throws a minute later to help seal the win.
The Wizards now have two days off before a road matchup with the Celtics (43-21) at 7:30 P.M. on Friday night, their first of 10 games in the next 16 days. Washington returns home on Sunday for a matchup with the Thunder (40-24) at 6:00 P.M.