Bradley Beal’s historic night, which included a career-high 53-point performance en route to surpassing Jeff Malone for second place on the franchise’s all-time scoring list, wasn’t enough to leave the United Center with a victory as the Washington Wizards fell 126-117 to the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night.
With 10:02 left in the fourth quarter, Beal hit a pair of free throws to take sole possession of second on Washington’s all-time scoring list. However, Beal wasn’t done making history as he tried to lead a comeback in the Windy City.
The Panda scored 21 of his 53 points in the fourth quarter as the Wizards rallied, and although the Wiz couldn’t pull off the win, Beal topped his previous career high of 51 points, which he set in December 2017.
The Panda has been on a scoring tear since well before the All-Star break, and it continued at the site of this year’s All-Star festivities on Sunday night. Only James Harden, Damian Lillard and Kyrie Irving have scored more points in a game this season than Beal’s 53 against the Bulls. Additionally, the performance was Beal’s eighth this season with 40 points or more, the most he has recorded in a season in his career.
CONGRATULATIONS, BRADLEY BEAL!
— Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) February 24, 2020
The herculean effort – which also included five rebounds, four assists, a block and two steals – earned the praise of fans, teammates and even Wizards legends alike. Beal was extremely efficient offensively, shooting 15-of-27 from the field and 18-of-20 from the free throw line.
CONGRATULATIONS TO BRAD BEAL FOR BECOMING THE #2 ALL TIME BULLETS/WIZARDS CAREER SCORER AND PASSING THE GREAT JEFF MALONE!!! pic.twitter.com/TTd4k6krLZ
— Stephen Powers (@DCStones1978) February 24, 2020
Just so we're clear, the best two players in the East not named Giannis are from St. Louis.
Jay Tatum and Brad Beal continue to represent Missouri well. Take notes, the Show-Me State is loaded with great talent.
— Jordan Burton (@thejordanburton) February 24, 2020
Despite the career night, the Wizards didn’t earn the win, and that’s what matters most to No. 3. Ultimately, getting stops on the defensive end is what Washington needs if they are going to make a push for the playoffs, and Beal knows the team can improve on that end of the floor.
“I can be better on the defensive end, and all around, we can be better,” Beal said. “Coach [Scott Brooks] is absolutely right. The last two games, we didn’t show any resistance on the defensive end – none of us. It’s coming down to how bad we really want to make this push. We have to look at ourselves individually, starting with myself and everyone else following suit, but we got to be able to come off a break and win games.”
Despite earning an early seven-point lead, the Wiz struggled with rebounds and turnovers – committing 13 in the first half. At the break, Chicago held a 78-53 lead. A 10-0 run for the Bulls allowed Chicago to push their lead to 25 points in the third quarter.
But, as they have all year, Washington fought back and Davis Bertans and Beal kept Washington in the game.
Over a 4:07 span, the Wizards hit five three-pointers, including three from Davis Bertans – part of a 23-7 run to cut the lead to nine points.
Bertans finished the game with 22 points on 5-11 (.454) from three-point range. Bertans now has 13 games this season with 20-plus points and 12 games with five three-pointers made off the bench. No other bench player has more than nine such games.
In the final frame, the Wizards found themselves trailing by nine points with just under seven minutes to play, and Beal picked up his fifth foul. He remained in the game and stayed aggressive, scoring 12 points in the next five minutes to keep the Wizards within reach. With just over four minutes to go in the game, Chicago’s Zach LaVine scored on dunks on consecutive possessions to rebuild the Bulls’ lead to 12 – a deficit the Wizards were not able to overcome, overshadowing an otherwise stellar night for Bradley Beal.
The Wizards return to action on Monday, hosting the Milwaukee Bucks (48-8) at 7:00 p.m. ET at Capital One Arena in one of three remaining matchups between the two teams.