Bradley Beal beats the buzzer, Thunder with late dagger
It happens at different moments for each and every NBA rookie. With the game tied at 99 Wizards rookie Bradley Beal made a one-handed jumper with 0.3 seconds left to give the Wizards a surprising 101-99 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder Monday night.
Beal’s late game heroics came just one possession after Kevin Durant threatened to end the Wizards upset bid by nailing a three pointer to tie the game at 99. Wizards coach Randy Wittman called timeout and drew up a play for Beal. What happened next resulted in the 19-year-old’s welcome to the NBA moment.
“He was tired and we kept going to him,” said Wizards forward Martell Webster. “Kept talking to him and encouraging him. When it comes down to the last shot it doesn’t matter, you can be as tired as you want but there is something about it that lifts you up. You get that energy and he got it. He got it and he was confident in the shot. Got two guys to bite on the pump fake, stepped through easy. It looked slow motion, he looked very comfortable doing it like he has done it a hundred times.”
The Wizards led by as many as nine in the fourth quarter and when Durant drove the length of the court for a thunderous dunk to cut OKC’s deficit to 95-94 nobody would’ve been surprised if the Wizards faltered down the stretch.
Up to this point they’d overachieved just keeping the game competitive with two of their top scorers in Nene and Jordan Crawford out of the lineup. But even when Durant tied the game at 99, Wittman knew it was time for a break to go in the Wizards favor.
“I just said at the timeout to the guys, ‘How many times have we been in this spot?’ We’re going to get the last shot. If we make it we win. It’s time for us to be on the other end, to have someone step up and make a play.”
With only eight healthy bodies available the undermanned Wizards needed Beal to be even more aggressive than usual. He responded with 22 points on 7 of 17 shooting including 5 of 7 from beyond the arc. Just 31-games into his career the 19-year-old can make a check in the game winning shot column.
“Yes, it’s a big shot but there are still a lot of things in the game that I didn’t do well and want to improve on," said Beal. "I mean I’m celebrating the shot but I also have to move on from it.”