Even though the Wizards have picked up the victory pace of late, describing the team's play as consistent might be stretching things a bit. Not so with Bradley Beal. In fact, that is exactly how his coach depicts the rookie guard's recent run.
"He's consistent. That's a word that I would use. He has been consistent in what he's trying to do on both ends of the floor," Randy Wittman said at the Wizards Friday morning shoot-around before hosting the Los Angeles Lakers. "That's what good players do. They become consistent night in and night out in what they are doing. He's put a streak here together doing it."
Through the initial baker's dozen stretch of games in the 19-year-old's first NBA campaign - one that included Washington losing its first 12 games - Beal averaged 10.8 points and 1.8 assists. Fighting through those potentially confidence-shaking lows, the 6-foot-4 wing threat has been a regular offensive leader. Over his last six games, the numbers are up to 15.7 points and 3.7 assists. After failing to reach double figure points six times in his first 10 games, Beal only scored less than 10 points once over his last nine appearances.
In the Wizards first road victory of the season Tuesday at New Orleans, Beal made half of his 12 field goal attempts, scored 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Wrapping up the two-game road swing at Houston against Olympian James Harden, the Florida product notched 20 points by sinking 3 three-pointers and making 5 of 6 from the free throw line. With the team limited at point guard following the injury to A.J. Price, Beal also matched his season-high by doling out six assists for the second time in three games.
Beyond simply putting up numbers, Beal's simply been more forceful with his scoring and defense, losing some of the wide-eyedness that shown through with his early play.
Asked about his starting guard's assertive turn, Wittman said, "You can't be consistent in your play if you're not always in aggressive mode on both ends of the court. If you're not aggressive defensively, you're going to struggle."
No doubt Beal must maintain that hard-charging plan with the always forceful Kobe Bryant up next. In 27 career games against the Wizards, the All-Star guard and five-time NBA champion has averaged 25.5 points - and it's doubtful Bryant's ever-entered Washington in a worse mood. The reeling Lakers have lost four straight, six of seven and stand a stunning 9-14 overall. Not that the 3-16 Wizards feel bad for the left coasters.
"I've got enough of my worries to worry about the Lakers," Wittman said.
Notes...We already knew John Wall was in New York Friday morning for a visit with Dr. David Atchek, who first diagnosed the point guard's stress patella injury in his left knee on Sept. 27. Turns out Trevor Booker also headed north for a check on his left knee strain. The third-year energy forward has missed the last 10 games since suffering the injury against Indiana on Nov. 19.