Since the start of training camp, the Wizards have urged rookie Bradley Beal to play with more aggression.
Seems like the 19-year-old guard is starting to listen, possibly at his own expense.
On Wednesday night in Boston, Beal was getting an earful from Celtics veteran Paul Pierce until he swatted away one of his shots.
“He was talking a little bit,” Beal said, “so I just blocked it and shut him up a little bit.”
On Friday night, with 23.7 seconds remaining in the Wizards’ 101-91 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks, the normally mild-mannered Beal felt the sting of his first NBA ejection.
With the Bucks leading 99-90 Bucks guard Monta Ellis was cruising in for an uncontested layup when Beal caught him from behind and knocked him to the floor with a hard foul.
Ellis landed on a female attendant on the floor and Beal quickly extended his hand to to lift Ellis off the floor. That’s when Jennings arrived and pushed Beal from behind, knocking him to the floor.
“I went for the ball but they called it a flagrant 2,” Beal said. “It is what it is. I guess [Jennings] called that defending his teammate and came and pushed me, but that’s all a part of basketball. It gets physical and I just have to deal with it.”
Players pushed and shoved and Beal and Ellis, each of whom finished with a game-high 22 points, were escorted to their locker rooms.
“I didn’t think I was going to get kicked out for it,” Jennings said. “I was just trying to protect my teammate. Because of the way [Ellis] fell I didn’t know if he was hurt.”
According to the NBA rulebook, a flagrant 2 foul is “unnecessary and excessive contact committed by a player against an opponent. It is an unsportsmanlike act and the offender is ejected following confirmation by instant replay review.
“The offender will be subject to a fine not exceeding $50,000 and/or suspension by the Commissioner.”
Jennings defended his actions, saying he was sticking up for his teammate. He and Beal will learn Saturday if they will receive further disciplinary action from the NBA. The Wizards face the Pacers in Indiana on Saturday night; the Bucks are home against Boston.
“I’m not a guy who gets kicked out a lot, gets technical fouls or starts fights,” Jennings said. “This is one of my first incidents ever. I just have to wait and see.”
Ellis said he was most upset that Beal would take him out that hard while he was in flight.
“When you see somebody up in the air that high and you can’t make a basketball play I don’t think you should try to block a shot when I was already ahead,” he said. “Who knows what their coach tells them, to fight through every play. I just ended up in a bad situation.”
Wizards coach Randy Wittman praised Beal for his aggressiveness in getting down the floor and challenging Ellis.
“We don’t want to hurt anybody but you want to play it out,” Wittman said. “I want our guys to stay aggressive. We don’t want to do anything over the line, though.”