The scorekeepers weren’t doing the Washington Wizards or Bradley Beal any favors Friday night at US Airways Center. Adhering to a 30-minute limit instilled by the team’s medical staff as Beal recovers from a stress injury in his right leg, the officials’ uncertainty about Beal’s time on the floor against the Suns had the Wizards’ coaching staff clearly agitated. But it was Beal who provided calm at the close, scoring seven of the Wizards’ final eight points and recording a critical steal to allow the Wizards to escape with an impressive 101-95 victory against the Phoenix Suns. Beal entered the game with 3 minutes 20 seconds remaining for his final push with the Wizards leading by three after a made free throw by Phoenix, but the lead quickly vanished as the Suns tied the game at 93 on a dunk by Miles Plumlee. Beal responded with a three-pointer that proved to be decisive and finished with 17 points, six rebounds and four steals. “I heard the coaches talking about it, but I wasn’t really sure what was going on. I heard they tried to give me more minutes than I had,” Beal said of the confusion surrounding his minutes. “I had no idea. Whenever I came out, I just came out, I didn’t even think twice about it. I knew that eventually the ball was going to come my way.” Marcin Gortat was back in Phoenix for the first time since he was traded to Washington on Oct. 25, having spent 21 / 2 seasons with the Suns and having watched the team transition from the Steve Nash era and bottom out into a complete rebuild. Many viewed his trade as the latest sign that the Suns were playing for the future, not the present. Instead, the Suns had been thriving, coming into Friday’s game at 24-17 and jockeying for a playoff spot in the rugged Western Conference. Before the game, Gortat expressed a desire to get a win in his old home and he appeared pressed on the opening tip, when he drove baseline and simply dribbled the ball out of bounds. He finished with 14 points, five rebounds and two blocked shots. “I was just too energized, too fast. But I could anticipate that. It was just the excitement being here, playing against my ex-team,” Gortat said. “It was obvious I’m going to make the first few mistakes. It was a great battle. It was just fun to play here and fun to beat that team. It’s not only my ex-team, but it’s also a great team, and we proved we can play against anybody.” Trevor Ariza, struggling for much of this month, scored a game-high 23 points and also recorded four steals as the Wizards forced 21 turnovers leading to 24 points. Nene added 18 points. The Wizards were still smarting over an overtime home loss against the Boston Celtics in which they came back from a 19-point deficit. Before boarding the plane for a four-game road trip to the West Coast, Coach Randy Wittman sat down with John Wall, counseling him not to try to do too much. Wall had attempted a season-high 29 shots in the loss to Boston and accepted blame afterward for taking attempts away from his teammates.
Wizards 101, Suns 95: Bradley Beal, John Wall combine to eclipse Phoenix
Washington Post | Jan 25