Sunday, September 20, 2020

Beal's late layup lifts Wizards to thrilling win over Mavericks

Feb 08. 2020
Bradley Beal slips past Mavericks guards Tim Hardaway Jr. (11) and Delon Wright (55) for the game-winning basket Friday night at Capital One Arena. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by John McDonnell
Bradley Beal slips past Mavericks guards Tim Hardaway Jr. (11) and Delon Wright (55) for the game-winning basket Friday night at Capital One Arena. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by John McDonnell
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By The Washington Post · Candace Buckner · SPORTS, BASKETBALL 

WASHINGTON - Bradley Beal, one of the hottest players in the league, somehow went undetected down the lane on an inbounds play with 1.8 seconds remaining. How that could happen only a regretful bunch of Dallas Mavericks players can say. With the game in the balance, Troy Brown Jr. saw Beal flash and found him in stride, Beal finishing at the rim for the game-winning layup with two-tenths of a second remaining.

The Wizards' 119-118 victory continued Beal's one-man attack on all comers since his all-star snub.

Beal finished with a game-high 29 points on 11-of-28 shooting, along with eight assists, five rebounds and one massive mosh pit at half-court. Teammates mobbed Beal after the bucket, celebrating the big shot as Washington improved to 18-32.

The Mavericks (31-21) took a 118-117 advantage in the waning seconds after Tim Hardaway made one of two free throws. Coach Scott Brooks called a timeout and drew up an inbounds play that saw Brown throw a no-look pass to Beal for decisive layup.

Beal received offensive support from Davis Bertans, who made five 3-pointers and finished with 20 points, and Rui Hachimura, who started the game 6 for 6 and finished with 17 points. 

The Wizards also got a boost from their newest player, Shabazz Napier. Perhaps, after Friday, Napier's mother will stop checking in on her son.

Napier has endured a whirlwind week. He has been traded twice, from Minnesota to Denver, then Denver to Washington. Before he could truly catch his breath in the Mile High City, a deal came together between the Wizards and Nuggets in the closing hours of the NBA trade deadline Thursday afternoon, sending him to his sixth team in eight years.

Napier wasn't fazed. He simply caught his three-hour flight and studied up on the Wizards' playbook via video clips. By the time of his debut inside Capital One Arena, Napier was a steady hand as a backup point guard.

Napier scored 14 points (on 5-of-10 shooting, including a pair of 3-pointers) and played active perimeter defense. His statistical line should make his loved ones stop stressing.

"For me, it's not difficult. For my family it is. . . . You get text messages from my mom, my brothers asking me if I'm OK. I'm certainly OK," said Napier, who was part of the massive four-team, 12-player deal earlier in the week. A few days later, the Nuggets dealt him straight up for Jordan McRae.

It was the second time in a year Napier was traded from an organization before playing a game with the team. In July, Napier was dealt to the Warriors in a sign-and-trade to help Golden State land D'Angelo Russell. The Warriors traded him to the Timberwolves, where he appeared in 36 games and started 22. 

"It's my family members worried about me," the 28-year-old Napier said, "that's what I'm worried about."

Barring unforeseen circumstances, the Napier family has little to worry about for the remainder of the season. If his debut is any indication, Napier has cemented his role as the backup behind newly-minted starter Ish Smith. As the leader of the second unit, Napier had his moments.

Even though he had to cram for the game, Napier made few mistakes (two bad passes for turnovers) but showed a knowledge of the game plan. At one point, Napier pointed to Bertans to show him where he needed to be on the floor. Before the end of the third quarter, Napier pulled up for a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to pull the Wizards to within 93-92. Then in the fourth, Napier set up Bertans for two of his 3s.

With seven minutes remaining in the game, Napier returned to the bench while Smith took over. At that point the Wizards held the one-point lead.

The starters plus Bertans handled the game the rest of the way. Although Dallas opened 117-112 advantage in the final two minutes, Washington and Beal closed the game with a bang.


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