Wizards will use extended break to fix opening night mistakes
Bradley Beal’s NBA debut Tuesday night started like a dream sequence.
Open 3-pointer … drained.
Another 3-pointer … nothing but net.
[Cue in the Chariots of Fire music.]
“I made my first two threes and then I just faded away after that,” Beal said Wednesday at Verizon Center, where the Wizards sat through a video session breaking down Tuesday night’s season-opening 94-84 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena.
“I wasn’t aggressive. I should have stayed in attack mode and kept going.”
Instead, Beal missed his final seven field goal attempts and finished his NBA debut with eight points, three assists, one steal and two turnovers in 21:33 of action.
“He’s going to have some ups and downs,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of the 19-year-old guard from Florida. “One thing he can’t do is let making and missing shots affect his overall play of defensively getting into guys, running the floor, being aggressive off the dribble.
“He can make plays. But the last couple games – the San Antonio game in our last exhibition games wasn’t a very good game -- I think the makes and misses of shots affected his play in that game as well as last night.”
Beal finished the preseason ranked third on the team in scoring with 11.3 points a game, but he put up goose eggs against the Spurs, shooting 0-for-6 from the field for zero points.
In Tuesday night’s debut Beal said he was more upset with his play on the defensive side, where he was outplayed by Cavs rookie Dion Waiters, who was taken one pick after Beal at fourth overall in the 2012 NBA draft. Waiters finished with 17 points.
“I think my defense affected my offense,” Beal said. “I was so upset with myself [for missing shots] I was doing the wrong assignments on defense. I wasn’t where I was supposed to be and I think that led to my [struggles] at the offensive end.”
Beal says he’s accustomed to high expectations, but with John Wall expected to miss the first month of the season with a stress injury to his knee, Beal will be asked to carry much of the load from the Wizards’ backcourt – a difficult assignment for a 19-year-old rookie.
“It’s pretty tough,” he said. “From the outside looking in people always look at you to be a hero, but to me and my teammates, that’s not me. There’s me and 14 or 15 other guys on this team.
“It’s a group effort. I can’t just go out there and score 60 points and we win. It’s a collective effort and as long as we stick to the game plan we’ll be fine. But I don’t put any added pressure on myself. I just do what coach wants me to do and go from there.”
Wittman says he’s confident Beal will be a different player when the Boston Celtics visit Verizon Center Saturday night. His teammates agree.
“He’s got to get back to being the guy with the bounce in his step,” Wittman said. “That’s part of being a rookie and learning how to not fall into those lapses.”
Said Wizards center Earl Barron: “You’d never think he’s a rookie the way he plays. He’s a very talented kid. He listens, he’s very humble, he works hard. He’s got nerves of steel. He may be nervous, but you’ll never know it.”