While the Wizards search for answers about stringing together enough victories to get over .500 and establishing some sort of consistent identity, Bradley Beal graciously took his turn falling on the sword -- though there's plenty of blame to go around. He missed a wide-open three-pointer that could've tied the score at the Utah Jazz that was off line on the release.
Trevor Ariza had buried a three to cut the deficit to Utah 101-98. Then after Trey Burke's shot in the lane rimmed out, John Wall pushed the pace and found Beal spotting up -- unguarded -- in the corner. It clanked off the front of the rim.
"I can take a lot of blame for this game because I feel like if I could've knocked down some more shots, been more aggressive in a few situations, especially the second to last play of the game, and the big 3 I had to tie the game I think we probably would've pulled this one out," Beal said after the 104-101 loss to Utah when he shot 5 of 16. He failed to make any of his three-point attempts.
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The Wizards (21-22) play at the Golden State Warriors (27-18) on Tuesday, a team that can be so potent offensively that no lead against them is safe. Beal still is playing on a minutes restriction of 30 so when he's in the game he's going to have to make every minute count. He'll have to score and be more efficient with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson able to fill up the basket.
And the Wizards are faced with a season-long issue of up-and-down play, losing focus for stretches that have cost them too many games. Garrett Temple hit a bank shot to give the Wizards a 10-point lead in the final minute of the first quarter in Utah, and by 10:24 of the second that deficit was whittled to three. The Wizards pushed it up to 13 in the second quarter at 7:28 on a layup by Martell Webster, but by 3:57 the score was tied at 45 on Burke's jumper.
"I wouldn't say necessarily we let our guards down. It's something about not playing hard. All of a sudden we always think we turn it on with the flip of a switch but we can't always do that," Beal said. "We've got to get off to better starts and try to maintain leads. I think we had a 10-point lead (in Utah) at one point and they came back in a matter of seconds. We've got to stand our ground and fight through until the end."