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Beal looks to stay hot as Wizards host Nets Wednesday night
The Wizards (20-35) take on the Nets (26-30) on Wednesday at 7:00 P.M. at Capital One Arena in their last game before a four-game road trip out west. Brooklyn looks to bounce back from a loss to the Magic on Monday night while Washington aims to snap a three-game losing streak.
Capital One Arena | 7:00 P.M. | NBCSW | 1500 AM
Wizards: G – Shabazz Napier, G – Bradley Beal, F – Isaac Bonga, F – Rui Hachimura, C – Ian Mahinmi
Nets: G – Spencer Dinwiddie, G – Caris LeVert, F – Joe Harris, F – Taurean Prince, C – Jarrett Allen
Wizards: Davis Bertans (sore right knee – available), John Wall (left Achilles rehab – out)
Nets: Wilson Chandler (personal reasons – out), Kevin Durant (right Achilles rehab – out), Kyrie Irving (right shoulder impingement – out)
Beal enters Wednesday’s matchup coming off historic pair of games
On Monday, Bradley Beal became the first player since Kobe Bryant in 2007 to score 50-plus points on back-to-back nights, pouring in a career-high 55 points in an overtime loss to the Bucks the night after scoring 53 against the Bulls. Beal is playing the basketball of his career – and not just in the last two games. Over his last 15 outings, he’s averaging 36.7 points and 5.1 assists per game, shooting 49.5% from the field and getting to the line 10.1 times per game.
“[He's a] special player,” Wizards head coach Scott Brooks said of Beal following Monday’s game. “[He's a] special player doing everything that he can possibly do to keep putting us in a position to have success. Now, we didn't win. We haven't won enough games that we would like to have won, but Brad's a winner. He does it time and time again.”
On Wednesday, Beal will face a Nets team he’s found success against as of late, scoring 30-plus points in each of his last three meetings with Brooklyn. Earlier this month, Beal scored 34 points on 56.3% shooting and grabbed six rebounds in a win over the Nets.
Napier to make first start with Wizards
Prior to Wednesday’s game, Brooks announced that Shabazz Napier would make his first start since joining the Wizards. Napier replaces Ish Smith, who returns to a bench role he has thrived in this season. Brooks has said multiple times over the course of the season that he believes Smith’s best play has come with the reserves. Smith has played well since he moved into a consistent staring role, but the Wizards’ reserve unit has not put up the same production. Prior to Monday’s game against the Bucks, Brooks was asked if shuffling Smith back to the reserve unit was on the table in an effort to boost scoring.
Monday night, Napier scored a season-high 27 points on 10-17 (.588) from the field – and played a season-high 36 minutes, most of which came with a combination of players closely resembling the Wizards’ starting lineup. Smith, who played 26 minutes, played well, scoring 13 points, and tying Napier with a team-high seven assists.
Balanced Brooklyn attached poses problems for opposition
The Nets will face the Wizards on Wednesday without All-NBA guard Kyrie Irving, who last week was ruled out for the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury. Irving is now on his second stint this season of extended time on the sideline after missing 26 games earlier this season with a similar injury. His absence, however, hasn’t knocked the Nets off course. In its last eight games, Brooklyn is 5-3, with three of those wins coming by at least 20 points.
The Irving-less Nets rely on contributions from up and down the roster and have produced a different leading scorer in each of the last three games. Monday, in a two-point loss to the Magic, the Nets got most of their production from the guard spots as Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert combined to take 41 of the team’s shot attempts , but were buoyed by a 16-point, 12-rebound performance from Jarrett Allen, who shot a perfect 8-8 from the field. In the teams’ last meeting, Allen again did a lot with a little, going for 13 points, 15 rebounds and five assists and shooting 5-6 from the field.