PORTLAND – Bradley Beal had not felt that way since he was a teenager – when his mother was still his toughest critic, and he was a sophomore at the top of Chaminade College Preparatory School to the Missouri State Basketball Championship. That night, inside a high school gym, Beal threw a half court at the bell, sending the game to extra time, for his 52nd point. That was the only time in his life in basketball that he had exceeded 50 points: the coveted threshold that separates the simple scorers from the most skilled players.
Eight years later, Beal was in the locker room of Fashion Center visitors, smiling at those memories as he experienced the sensation once again.
Tuesday night, Beal set his NBA personal record with an explosion of 51 points against the Portland Trail Blazers. Beal made 21 of 37 shots, including 5 of 12 from the three-point arc, scoring the most points for an opponent in Portland history, beating even Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (49), Larry Bird (47) and Michael Jordan (46).
Beal considered total scoring 50 points, as the goal man against the NBA defenders or even as a baby-faced baller, and found the perfect word to sum up the moment.
"That's it – cubes," Beal said. "That's an achievement, it's an elite group of guys who can really score the ball, it's something I'm proud of."
Before Tuesday night, Beal could not get out of his own head. Calls to the game, his passes, those tinted protective glasses – all weighed heavily in Beal's mind in the past few games.
"Thinking too much," he said. "I was trying to think about the plays and shoot the boys, so they were easy and I was trying to make all the plays and I can not do all the plays."
His internal struggle to try to be the first unit John Wall's understudy showed each time one of his passes became a mistake: Beal averaged 2.4 turnovers in the previous five matches without Wall. It was especially evident every time he threw his glasses during the game. Although Beal listened to the doctor's orders after taking an elbow in the face, he never adjusted to the uncomfortable glasses. In the previous two games, the Beal with glasses shot 30.7 percent.
"I had not been shooting," said Damian Lillard, star of the Blazers. "So at some point a guy who is so skilled and shoots the ball well, will start it."
A night of insomnia followed the Wizards in their 47-point race in Utah on Monday night. Beal watched video footage of the game, mostly highlights that showed him taking shots. He studied his mechanics and how he worked to open up, and when he confronted the court in Portland, Beal felt free again. Especially after the first play of the game when he miscalculated the center of Marcin Gortat's positioning and his simple entry pass landed in the hands of an opponent. From that moment, Beal stopped thinking and played his own game.
"I just put everything on the table, regardless of whether I made shots, I lost shots, regardless of what happened during the game, I was going to be a better leader," Beal said. "Lead by example, have good body language and do whatever it takes to win."
For a scorer with the mind in the cubes, the leadership means attack, attack, attack. And so, Beal scored in isolation, moved around screens and bombarded the basket with pull-up jerseys. His singular approach to tormenting the Blazers led several players to take on the defensive task, and eventually they failed.
"I do not remember the last time I saw someone take 37 shots," said Blazers coach Terry Stotts. "It's a lot of shots." He had an exceptional night. "
Although Beal took many shots, played the entire second half and threw 22 of the team's 43 attempts, the volume should not overshadow his accuracy and efficiency Beal, playing on the second night from a back-to-back path, he never showed fatigue as he hit four of eight points in the last 24 minutes, but Beal thought he missed some easy ones, and he suspected that his mother, Besta, would point out that he should have had 60 in place of 51.
"That's the kind of woman she is," Beal said.
Back on that big night in high school, Beal remembers not scoring during the five-minute extra time. That sensation of reaching a milestone but annoyed by the idea of falling just before a really special night has followed Beal throughout his more than five years in the NBA.Beal had flirted with performances before the rupture, its maximum ant erior in the race was 42, established last season, but could never exceed 40 points. Until Tuesday night.
"I've been stuck in 40 a couple of times, 38 times and a limit of 40," Beal said. "My teammates even pushed me in. They were the ones who told me to get 50. I was just worried about playing the right way and if I had the chance, I was going to take it, if I did not, I was going to move it. those who inculcated me & # 39; ve 50 & # 39; when I had 38, 42.
"I continued going and it is a great feeling at this safe moment."
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