PHOENIX – When the Washington Wizards closed a tight game, the players suffered personality changes. The main scorer of the game made a fundamental defensive play, then the defensive reserve center scored the decisive basket.
The young setter played the entire fourth quarter and handled the pressure while the initial attack zone, mostly an unbalanced duo that favored one player, contributed grueling cubes in the Wizards' 109-99 victory over the Phoenix Suns.
Bradley Beal continued his torrid stretch scoring, contributing 34 points a game after scoring the highest record of his 51 career. He made 13 of 22 shots, but his best contribution in the fourth quarter was defensive. With 4:56 left and the Wizards leading by two, Beal sacrificed his body for a charge against Suns forward Marquese Chriss.
"I'm a scammer, I can not just be a direct scorer," Beal protested against a journalist's investigation into his ability to take matters into his own hands. "I can contribute in many ways."
Showing his reach, Beal credited his "tricks" to convince rookie Josh Jackson to enter his sixth foul with three minutes left. After making both free throws, Beal added a pull-up from 20 feet away, but had help in the fourth quarter and throughout the game.
Markieff Morris scored 21 points on 8 of 12 shots, while the bench of the Wizards totaled 39 points with great efforts of Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) , Ian Mahinmi (10) and Mike Scott, who scored eight points and connected in the eight field goal attempts in the last two games.
"I think our bench has done a good job the last week and a half, the last two weeks," coach Scott Brooks said. "We just have to keep doing it." It's the whole team, the starters and the bench, we're all together, but you like having them both in the same game. "
The Wizards (14-11) lost by 12 in the first quarter before recovering consecutive victories by the first time since November 11, when the team had a four-game winning streak, the longest of the season, yet Morris did not want to proclaim that it has now become a corner.
"Do not take anything away to these teams, "said Morris," but we have to look at the teams we have won. "Tonight we won a game without his best player [Devin Booker]we have a Clippers team that has a lot of injured players. Brooklyn is in the middle of the group, so those are games, that honestly, we're supposed to win. "
This race has reflected the bombardment of Beal's personal score. On his night in Portland, Beal stayed warm from the perimeter. In Phoenix, with his three-point shot not falling as often, he played an efficient game inside the arc and closer to the rim.
Both Beal and the bench delighted during the second quarter showing their strength around the paint. Scott damaged the Suns (9-18) on both sides of the key, leaving Mike James on the left block before intimidating Josh Jackson on the right and taking a foul. That particular play could have irritated Suns point guard Tyler Ulis, who exchanged words with Scott as the pair headed to their separate benches.
"Many teams take my triple ball," said Beal. "But I do not force it, I take what the defense gives me, they put Ulis over me several times and I feel like I can shoot at him, nothing against him, I feel like I can take advantage of that fight."
It was a difficult quarter for Ulis, the smallest man on the court who was generously trading at 5 feet 9.
The Wizards attacked Ulis. With a soft backward movement, Beal made Ulis commit to reach and his lack generated a three-point play. When Beal returned to face Ulis, the Wizards performed an action to free him on a back screen set by Marcin Gortat.
Beal then crisscrossed the painting and chased away his diminutive defender for the simple jumper pullup. Later, after Ulis hit the side of the board, Beal started a counterattack and threw a cross pass to Oubre, who elevated Ulis by a triple.
During the second quarter, Beal was the only score opener (11 points) while reserves Oubre, Scott and Mahinmi accounted for the other 20 points.
After halftime, the Wizards' offense diversified as Morris scored 10 points on 3 of 3 shots in the third quarter. The game became tighter, but Beal again rescued, hitting the bell with a speeding 14-foot-tall cup and driving Washington to the 85-84 lead.
The Wizards led by two points in the last five minutes, and they maintained a balanced effort that included Tomas Satoransky executing the point. As substitute for starter Tim Frazier throughout the final frame, Satoransky found Morris for a quick run that gave Washington the 100-96 lead.
One play later, Otto Porter Jr. produced his second field goal of the game. Mahinmi then caught a key rebound and finished a difficult layup while receiving a foul, driving the Wizards to an 11-point lead with 2:38 to play.
As a team, the Wizards had 50.6 percent and outscored Phoenix with 48 points in the paint.