BY MASON BISSADA
The Washington Wizards defeated the Golden State Warriors Sunday night at the Chase Center by a score of 124-110.
On what was supposed to be Stephen Curry’s return game (the All-Star was a late scratch and his new return date is unknown), the attention shifted to Wizards guard Bradley Beal, who had been on an unprecedented scoring spree coming into Saturday’s matchup. The 26-year-old recently put up back-to-back 50+ point games, and averaged 36 points per game for the month of February.
After one quarter of play, it seemed as though Beal was destined for yet another 50+ point performance. He dropped 22 points on 6-10 shooting and hit an astounding five of his six three-point attempts in his first 10 minutes of action. Beal simply could not be contained by any single Warriors defender. His crossover was too quick, his jumpshot was too sharp and his drives were too overpowering for Andrew Wiggins, Damion Lee or Juan Toscano-Anderson.
The Warriors were desperate, and began double-teaming Beal every time he touched the ball. This strategy worked to some extent, as he only scored 12 more points for the rest of the game (finishing with 34) and shooting just 4-14 after his explosive first quarter. However, the Warriors were essentially asking the Wizards to beat them with someone else, and Davis Bertans did just that. The 7-foot sharpshooter dropped 29 points off the bench, knocking down eight of his 10 3-point attempts. Bertans has become one of the best pick-and-pop players in the league, and his ability to shoot from five feet behind the line at his height makes him nearly unguardable. Thanks in large part to Beal and Bertans, the Wizards hit a ridiculous 20 of their 30 3-point attempts, good for 67%.
“We let Beal get going right away and then we let Bertans get going in the second half,” Head Coach Steve Kerr said postgame. “They can make 20-30 any night if we leave them wide open like that. They are that kind of shooters, those two…we have to be much better defensively.”
When asked about his recent scoring streak, Beal said “I’m just having fun, playing confident, and really it’s my faith and making sure my faith is right. He puts me in a place of peace to where I can just play my game and have fun with it.”
Washington’s shooters played a major role in Sunday’s loss, but the Warriors also beat themselves to some extent. Golden State turned the ball over a miserable 21 times, playing without a true point guard (Ky Bowman sat with a right ankle sprain) and throwing the ball all over the gym as a result. Marquese Chriss may have had another double-double (12 points, 13 rebounds) but that does not excuse his team-high five turnovers.
Andrew Wiggins also had a quietly bad game despite going for 27 points on 9-19 shooting, as he had four turnovers and was a team-low minus-31 for the game. Wiggins can clearly put up numbers, but until he becomes a better playmaker and (crucially) a better defender, his scoring contributions will continue to be inconsequential.
Golden State was once again short-handed, playing with just eight healthy bodies. The three Warriors reserves, Eric Paschall, Jordan Poole and recent 10-day-contract addition Mychal Mulder all scored 17 each. Mulder had his best game as a pro, going 6-10 from the field and 3-7 from beyond the arc, finishing the game as the only net-positive player (+5 in 31 minutes). At 6’3, Mulder is a bit undersized on the wing, but his athleticism and speed make up for it to some degree. Though he was 0-5 from beyond the arc in his first game against the Lakers, his jumpshot form looks pure and he has a quick release. Defensively, Mulder was given the assignment of Beal at times, and looked passable. Whether or not Mulder is brought back on another 10-day contract depends largely on the health of Steph Curry and Ky Bowman.
“The guys have embraced me and really made me feel like I’m at home here,” Mulder said postgame. “As well as the coaching staff giving me an opportunity to play and show what I can do out there and show that I can earn some trust.”
Golden State was no match for a team that scores the fifth-most points per game in the NBA, or for a player who can explode for 50 on any given night. However, on a night where fans were already disappointed by the absence of Steph Curry, they would’ve welcomed a competitive game against a fellow sub-.500 team.
The Warriors next travel to the Mile-High city to take on the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday at 6PM.
Bradley Beal broke the Wizards franchise record of consecutive games with 25 or more points tonight, marking his 18th straight game.
A total of seven rookies have played a game for the Warriors this season, including Ky Bowman, Mychal Mulder, Zach Norvell Jr., Eric Paschall, Jordan Poole, Alen Smailagic and Juan Toscano-Anderson. This total is one fewer than the franchise record of eight rookie appearances in the 1952-53 season for the then Philadelphia Warriors.
Tonight marks Golden State’s seventh back-to-back of the season, after defeating the Suns last night in Phoenix.
Damion Lee is averaging 17.1 points per game over his last seven games prior to tonight’s game.
Dragan Bender’s 10 rebounds marks a season high for him.
Jordan Poole has now scored in double digits in nine consecutive games.
Eric Paschall’s six assists were a career high for him.
Mychal Mulder has scored 33 points through his first three games. The last Warriors rookie to do this was Stephen Curry in the 2009-10 season.