The lack of correlation between 40-plus point games for Bradley Beal and wins for the Washington Wizards has been a hot topic over the course of the 2020-21 NBA season. But on Thursday night, Brad and the Wizards put that talk to rest for at least one night, by knocking off the best team in the NBA.
No. 3 scored 43 points, his fourth highest scoring total of the season, and the Wizards piled up 131 points to defeat the Utah Jazz 131-122. Brad was masterful in the emphatic victory, drilling 16-of-24 shots, including 4-of-6 from deep. All told, the Wizards shot 55 percent from the field and 41 percent from three. In addition to Brad’s big night, Russell Westbrook had another big night, posting a monster 35-point, 15-rebound, 13-assist triple double. But afterward, BB directed credit for the win to the Washington defense, which forced 16 turnovers, had the Jazz shooting at just 46 percent from the field.
“We guarded for 48 minutes. We did a good job of disrupting them. That’s the best team in the league right now that came in here tonight,” Brad said. “We just did a good job of making them uncomfortable and making sure we executed on the offensive end. We were making sure everybody was involved, but it was definitely our defense that won us the game.”
Washington was on top of its game defensively from the jump, holding Utah to just 20 points in the opening frame to open up a double-digit lead. They expanded that edge in the second half and took an 18-point lead in at the break. But the Jazz made some second half adjustments to hang in, and got guard Donovan Mitchell going, and the Wizards had to respond.
Brad did just that, matching Mitchell almost shot for shot in the second half. Mitchell hit 12-of-21 from the field, and BB took it up a notch, scoring at a scorching 11-of-16 clip from the field to total 30 second half points.
Brad’s second half efforts helped the Wizards maintain their advantage throughout the third quarter, and hold off Utah in a furious fourth quarter en route to the big win.
“He’s a great player. He’s an All-Star for a reason, and when he gets downhill man, he’s one of the best guards in the league,” Brad said of Mitchell. “He loves his three ball, but I feel like he’s very dangerous when he’s attacking downhill, especially at bigs. So we just tried to contain him as best we could. In the first half we did a good job of that, second half he kind of got going, got loose. We respect his game, respect what he’s doing, but I think we did a good job of trying to control him.”
The Wizards will try to win two in a row for the first time since the All-Star break when they head to Brooklyn to take on the Nets. It’s the first of three straight games for Washington in New York, where they’ll also play a pair of games against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. All three games can be seen on NBC Sports Washington.