Wake-up call: Bradley Beal starts to adjust to defenses

Wake-up call: Bradley Beal starts to adjust to defenses
February 26, 2014, 6:00 am
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Wizards react to losing Nene

A subtle change occurred in Bradley Beal's game, and the Wizards benefitted from it in Tuesday's 115-106 victory vs. the Orlando Magic. Beal went to the free throw line nine times, the most attempts he has had in just more than a year. 

Beal still contributed 21 points. He shot 7-for-13. He made six of his foul shots and didn't have a turnover.

"That's weird," Beal said of attempting just one three-point shot, which he made to give the Wizards a 15-point lead in the third quarter. "But I was just attacking and staying aggressive. They didn't know whether they were going to come out to me or if they were going to guard March (Marcin Gortat) in the pick-and-roll."

[RELATED: Wiz know they need to step up with Nene out]

Between Beal's judicious shot-taking and a near-perfect floor game from John Wall, who had seven assists and just one turnover, the Wizards (29-28) have a backcourt that is difficult to deal with when both players are clicking. Practice is Wednesday and the team will leave later in the day for Toronto, where it'll play the Raptors on Thursday (CSN+, 7). 

Beal had 11 attempts on Feb. 22, 2013, getting nine of his 17 points vs. the Denver Nuggets on free throws. He hadn't attempted more than six in 2013-14 until Tuesday. 

"He's learning how teams are playing him. You get in the league a couple of years, you've got a scouting book on you," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of Beal keeping his dribble alive to attack. "A lot of teams are telling you run him off the line and don't give him a catch-and-shoot. It's something that he's been working on, that he's got to continue to work on. That's where he takes that next step of, 'If you want to play me that way I'm going to hurt you with the one-, two-, three-dribble-in-the-paint pull-up.' If he can consistently get that then he's going to be really more hard to guard."