Bradley Beal hits hard, calls for DeMar DeRozan assignment in Wizards win

Beal hits hard, calls for DeRozan assignment in win originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

WASHINGTON — If you squinted watching the Wizards’ win over the Bulls on Friday night, you saw the new role Bradley Beal hopes to prosper this season, his 11th in the NBA. He hit the go-ahead in the fourth quarter, he didn’t have to score 30 points for the Wizards to win, he had eight assists and he asked to keep Bulls star DeMar DeRozan in the fourth quarter.

Beal wants to shift into the clutch, trust his teammates to make plays and commit to defense. All of these boxes have been checked. He just wishes he hadn’t had five turnovers, which led to him shaking his head as he left the press conference room after addressing the media.

Never mind. A win is a win and it’s the start of the season. The Wizards are 2-0 and he has time to work things out.

“I know I can score with the best of them. I can score when I need to… Don’t get me wrong. I’m still going for 30, 40, 50 if I need to,” said Beautiful. “[But] I don’t have to. I don’t have to do this.”

Beal finished with 19 effective points on the night. He shot 9 for 14 from the field and 1 for 2 from three. He didn’t attempt a single free throw, which left him in disbelief. The Wizards made 11 free throws to the Bulls’ 33, a big reason they fell back after losing 17.

Bearings were a problem for Beal and the team as a whole. They had 17, which the Bulls converted to 17 points. That included a steal from DeRozan on a bad pass from Beal, which led to DeRozan throwing an tying dunk with 33.1 seconds left.

DeRozan was a handful for wizards, as he always is. Last season, on New Year’s Day, he beat them at the buzzer with a 3-pointer from the corner. On Friday he nearly did it again, this time at the last second with Anthony Gill contesting the shot.

DeRozan had 32 points, including 12 points in the fourth quarter. But he shot 3 for 9 in the final frame and Beal will take that, knowing what happened in January.

Beal asked to keep DeRozan after being fouled by Deni Avdija with 3:29 left. DeRozan was 8 of 9 from the free throw line at the time and Beal felt he was less likely to get calls if guarded by another star.

DeRozan reached the line for two more shots, but Beal felt he was allowed to defend with more contact.

“Let me give him a different look. Let me play with the ball, kick the ball, tap his elbow without the ref looking. Do little things that I can get away with because they were kinda happy to whistle there,” says Béal.

Beal was working hard at both ends of the floor during the home stretch of the game; keep DeRozan and take the ball in clutch moments. He got a layup to go down with 1:04 left, then dropped a float off the glass with 7.4 seconds left to clinch the win.

While 19 points may be below his usual standards, he had good timing with his last two shots.

“End of the game, fourth quarter, that’s what we want,” said Kyle Kuzma. “He’s our best player. Just put the ball in the hands of your best player and play him.”

It was a fitting end on a night when Wizards brought back their blue and bronze jerseys. This era produced a series of memorable buzzer-beaters from Michael Jordan and Gilbert Arenas. Although Beal’s shot wasn’t made at the last moment, it served its purpose as the game-winning bucket.

For a moment during this streak, it appeared that Beal was in trouble. He went just past a Gill screen in triple coverage, but caused Goran Dragic to drift to the 3-point line to cover Monte Morris, creating just enough space for Beal to shoot.

It passed and the Wizards took the win. If things go as planned this season, there could be more games like this for Beal and the Wizards. I just hope for less turnover.

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