Much will be made of the scoring of Bradley Beal as the Wizards keep turning the corner, but that’s only half the story.
Beal, a rookie shooting guard, has scored 28, 25, 21 and 20 points this month. The Wizards (18-37) are 3-1 in those games, including Monday’s 90-84 win at the Toronto Raptors. They're 7-4 for February heading into Wednesday's home game vs. the Detroit Pistons (CSN+, 7 p.m ET).
Where Beal also excels is the less glamorous end of the floor for a surprisingly solid defensive team. Usually for young scorers who enter the NBA, becoming a two-way player is one of the later stages of evolution.
Coach Randy Wittman doesn't have to instill that ethic in Beal. DeMar DeRozan scored a game-high 25 points for Toronto, but he scored 10 of them in the last eight minutes of the game while Beal spent a lot of time on the bench with five fouls.
The Wizards allow the eighth fewest points per game in the NBA at 95.4 with a rookie who has to guard slashers and shooters like DeRozan. And Beal still has enough in the tank to be a dangerous scorer, particularly from three-point range, heading into the final stretch of an 82-game season.
“I always take pride in my defense. That comes first. That’s something we can control. You can control somebody not going around you,” said Beal, who is averaging 13.9 points per game and overcame a wrist injury that limited him earlier this season. “Shooting the ball, you can’t always control the ball going in. I always practiced defense first. … If you get a stop, that gets you hyped going down on the other end. … It’s something I've always been able to do.”