Beal (34 points) stays on offensive in Wizards victory
PHOENIX — Still waiting for running mate John Wall to return from injury, Bradley Beal is taking the shots and holding the fort for the Washington Wizards.
Beal continued his offensive surge with 34 points and the Wizards won back-to-back games for the first time in almost a month with a 109-99 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday.
Beal who had a career-high 51 points in a win at the Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday, made only one 3-pointer all night but hit 12 of 17 shots inside the arc as the Wizards won with Wall (knee) out for a seventh straight game.
The 85 points over two games is the most by a Washington player since Gilbert Arenas had 85 — including 54 against the Suns — from Dec. 22-26, 2006.
“I took advantage of what they give me,” said Beal, who had five 30-point games this season, including 40 points against the Suns earlier this season. “A lot of times teams will take away my three-ball but I’m not going to force it. It comes down to making the right decisions.
“I’m just playing my game and having fun, doing whatever it takes to win a game.”
Forward Markieff Morris added 21 points for the Wizards (14-11), who won back-to-back games for the first time since winning four straight from Nov. 9-15. They swept the season series from Phoenix and have beaten the Suns in five of the last six meetings.
“(Morris) played great,” Washington coach Scott Brooks said. “He made timely buckets for us. He attacked and didn’t just settle for jump shots. He needs to play like that for us to have success.”
Phoenix (9-18) got 23 points from T.J. Warren in its first game without leading scorer Devin Booker (adductor strain). The Suns pulled within 98-96 on an Alex Len dunk with 5:46 left. They had four straight possessions with a chance to tie or take the lead but committed four turnovers, three by guard Tyler Ulis.
“When you get down to the fourth quarter, you’ve got to be perfect,” Suns forward Jared Dudley said. “When you’re young, you’re going to make mistakes but they can cost your team.”
The Wizards finally capitalized and went on a run of nine straight points, with a three-point play by Ian Mahinmi with 2:38 left giving them a 107-96 lead.
“We’re going to miss (Booker) throughout the whole game ... but especially when it comes down to the end where you give it to somebody,” Phoenix interim coach Jay Triano said. “We saw Beal do it and make the tough shots and our guy who does that was on the pine.”
Rookie Josh Jackson, starting in place of Booker, had 10 points and looked good early but fouled out in 24 minutes — mostly against Beal.
“We need him to guard Beal and stay down,” Triano said. “As a rookie, you’re not going to get a lot of calls. The benefit of the doubt is going to go to the All-Star player.”
Jackson had six points and three assists in the first eight minutes and fed Marquese Chriss for an alley-oop dunk to give the Suns a 24-12 lead with 4:47 left.
But the Wizards ended the quarter on a 14-4 run, with Beal and Morris hitting 3-pointers. Beal’s 15-footer with 7.4 seconds left pulled the Wizards within 28-26.
Beal scored 11 in the second quarter. The Suns kept pace with nine points by Warren and six from Troy Daniels, who followed a 3-pointer with three free throws to tie the game at 48 with 3:21 left.
Beal had the final four Wizard points of the half to give his team a 57-52 lead.
Tim Frazier gave Washington its biggest lead at 74-65 on a jumper with 4:59 left in the third quarter. But forward Jared Dudley sparked the Suns to a late 7-0 run late and the Wizards took an 85-84 lead to the fourth quarter.
NOTES: Suns G Devin Booker is walking — although gingerly — as he begins the 2-to-3 week rehab process from the scary left adductor muscle injury that had him carried off the court in Toronto on Tuesday. “I just locked up. I tried to move my leg back and it wasn’t going anywhere. People thought I was doing the ‘Mannequin Challenge’,” Booker said. “Every day, it’s felt better since it happened. I’m in good hands. It’s never ideal to miss games, but we have to be cautious and take our time.” Rookie Josh Jackson started in place of Booker. ... Wizards G John Wall missed his seventh game with a sore left knee and coach Scott Brooks said there is still no timetable for his return. ... Brooks on G Bradley Beal, who scored 51 points on 37 shots Tuesday: “That’s a lot of shots, but they weren’t forced. Most were great looks off great screens or passes.”