Twelve minutes remained before the All-Star break and the Washington Wizards were down double digits, but Bradley Beal refused to mail it in. Instead, he put on his cape, put the Washington Wizards on his back and put forth the type of performance only a three-time All-Star can.
Brad scored 17 of his season-high 35 points in the fourth quarter, rallying the Wizards all the way back from a 20-point first quarter deficit to beat the playoff-positioned Minnesota Timberwolves (31-30), 114-106.
Washington hits the unofficial midway point of the season at 28-30, sitting in the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference.
“It was an unbelievable game. It’s always tough, right before the break, everybody is itching, looking forward to it,” Brad said. “Our starters, we came out with horrible energy, horrible effort in the first quarter. We took it upon ourselves, we said “it’s on us, we’ve gotta come back and close out this game. Our bench came in and gave us two good comebacks, in the second quarter and again in the beginning of the fourth. When I came back in, I was just [thinking], “I’ve got to be aggressive at all costs.” Thank god, I was able to knock down some shots and close it out.”
No. 3 was on a mission in the fourth quarter, knocking down 6-of-9 from the field. When he returned to the game, the Washington reserves had cut a Minnesota lead that had ballooned to 18 points late in the third all the way down to five. Brad drove to the basket and made his first attempt after returning, and the score was 92–88 Timberwolves with just under eight minutes to go. However, Brad missed his next two attempts and Minnesota was able to push the lead back to eight points. But BB would miss just once the rest of the way.
First, he grabbed a rebound and quickly found Kristaps Porzingis for a bucket to make it a two-possession game. Then he drove in and drew a foul on Rudy Gobert and sank both free throws to cut the deficit to just four. Moments later he answered a trip of free throws by Kyle Anderson with a triple from deep and it was 99-95.
Minnesota kept scoring over the next several minutes but Brad always had an answer, posting seven of Washington’s next nine points and assisting on the other two. It was Kyle Kuzma who finally put the Wizards in front with a three to make it 107-106 in Washington’s favor, and Brad followed that with a trey of his own to make the lead stick with 37 seconds to go and D.C. closed out one of its finest wins of the season thus far on a 12-0 run to the win.
The 35-point performance was Brad’s fourth 30-plus point performance in his last six games as No. 3 seems to have found his groove after a start to the season that was plagued by frustrating leg injuries. The Wizards have won 10 of their last 14 games heading into the break, at least partially digging them out of their early season hole.
Now they’ll get a reprieve of more than a week before picking back up at home against the New York Knicks on Friday night February 25th. Tip-off for that game is slated for 7 p.m. and it can be seen on NBC Sports Washington.