St. Louisan Bradley Beal went off for 60 points on Wednesday night. SIXTY. Naturally you would think that the Washington Wizards took advantage of Beal’s scoring spree to win the game at Philadelphia. Unfortunately, you would be wrong.
Beal walked off the court with a share of the franchise record for most points in a game, but Washington’s latest loss — 141-136 — left him frowning. On a night when his teammates couldn’t get much going offensively, Beal tried his to will the Wizards to victory. Beal was all talent and exertion and sweat — with plenty of desperation mixed in.
Had Beal made a late free throw, he would have set the Wizards’ single-game record with 61 points. Alas he tied Gilbert Arenas, who had 60 in a game some 14 years ago.
And it wasn’t enough for Beal, the splendid 6-4 guard who prepped at Chaminade in St. Louis. He came up short for the record. The Wizards rallied from 21 points down, but couldn’t prevail over the 7-1 Sixers.
Washington dropped to 2-6 on the season.
“I’m pissed off. I’m mad,” Beal told the media via Zoom conference after the game. “I don’t count any of my career highs that have been losses, so I don’t give a damn. Throw ’em out with the water with the other two or three I had. I just want to win, you know? Sometimes that forces me to score 50, 60, whatever the case may be, but I just want to win, whatever that looks like. Came up short tonight, but we’ve just got to keep at it. Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us.”
The Wizards are 2-6 even though Beal leads the NBA in scoring with an average of 34.3 points per game. Since the start of the 2019-20 season, only James Harden has produced more PPG points per game (34.0) than Beal (31.0) among NBA scorers. Over the last three seasons, Beal’s average of 28 points per game ranks third in the NBA, trailing only Harden and Giannis Antetokounmpo
Washington’s record over that time: 59-103.
When backcourt mate John Wall went down and out with a torn Achilles and other injuries, Beal carried the scoring load. (Before being traded to Houston this past offseason, Wall hadn’t played more than 41 games in a season since 2016-2017 and missed all of 2018-2019.)
Houston dealt Russell Westbrook to D.C. for Wall, but Westbrook is off to a cold start, shooting only 39 percent from the floor so far. (That would be a career-worst rate.)
As always, the Wizards have turned to Beal to compensate for underperforming teammates and a myriad of other weaknesses. The Wizards are horrendous defensively, getting shredded for an NBA-worst 122.9 points per game. And this is no outlier; in the NBA only Atlanta has allowed more points than Washington during the last three seasons.
Beal keeps charging on. The third overall pick (by Washington) in the 2012 NBA Draft, Beal is in his ninth NBA season. He’s a scoring machine and a two-time NBA All-Star. At 28, Beal has many miles to go in his career. But he’s frustrated. Beal and the Wizards haven’t appeared in the playoffs since 2018. All of those points, down the drain.
“Special player. Special, every year now,” Washington coach Scott Brooks said of Beal. “An All-Star every year in my mind, an All-NBA player. Hopefully the rest of the league will understand that. He gets better every year; his leadership is definitely high-level. Knowing him, he’s pissed off. He got 60 points, and we lost. We had a chance to come back and win this game. He’s about winning. He can score a lot of points on any team on any given night, but he wants to lead us in victories.”
It’s a shame to see the Wizards wasting the best years of Bradley Beal’s career.
Hopefully that will change.
Thanks for reading …
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For the last 35 years Bernie Miklasz has entertained, enlightened, and connected with generations of St. Louis sports fans.
While best known for his voice as the lead sports columnist at the Post-Dispatch for 26 years, Bernie has also written for The Athletic, Dallas Morning News and Baltimore News American. Bernie has hosted radio shows in St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore and Washington D.C.
Bernie, his wife Kirsten and their cats reside in the Skinker-DeBaliviere neighborhood of St. Louis.