Beal scores 35 points, Wizards top Suns 140-132
PHOENIX - A night after playing one of their worst games of the season, the Washington Wizards responded with one of their best.
Players credited coach Scott Brooks with an impromptu breakfast meeting that led to a 140-132 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night.
“It’s the first time he’s done it all year,” Washington guard Bradley Beal said. “It was definitely needed for everybody. It was a point of emphasis on just winning games and what it takes to win games.
“He did a good job of teaching and breaking down what he expects from everyone. That’s what we needed. We got a good result tonight.”
Beal scored 35 points, Thomas Bryant added 23 and the Wizards held off a late Phoenix rally to win the second game of their four-game trip. Washington bounced back from a 13-point loss at Denver on Tuesday by shooting 57% from the field and making 19 of 35 3-pointers.
“You grow up day by day, 24 hours at a time,” Brooks said. “We always want to expedite that as fast as we can, but it’s about growing each day.”
Phoenix fell below .500 - at 8-9 - for the first time this season. Devin Booker led the Suns with 27 points and eight players scored in double figures, but they couldn’t contain the Wizards on a consistent basis.
“I told our guys this is a major test for us, of our character, integrity and togetherness,” Phoenix coach Monty Williams said. “About a week and a half ago everybody was excited and there was a buzz, and that’s died down. Now we have to stand up and be good teammates and do all the stuff we talk about when we’re in practice, and I believe we will.”
Washington led 74-69 at halftime after both teams made just about everything they threw toward the basket. The Wizards’ backups scored 43 of those 74, including 14 from Ish Smith, the former Suns guard who finished with 21.
The Wizards scored 10 points in the first 1:33 of the third quarter to continue the onslaught and led 108-95 after three quarters.
Phoenix cut it to 124-120 with about 3 minutes left before Beal made two free throws to stop the rally. Isaiah Thomas, another former Suns guard, made a 3-pointer on the next possession to push the advantage back to nine.
The Suns have lost five of six games after starting the season with a surprising 7-4 record.
“We are not one of those teams that can just turn it on and finish a game,” Booker said. “We came close to it and cut it to four but if we do that work early we will be in a better position throughout the whole game.”
Beal shot 11 of 18 from the field and added six assists. Bryant shot 9 of 11, including 2 of 2 from 3-point range.
Washington’s bench had a productive night with 59 points. Smith led the way with 21 while Davis Bertans had 16 and Jordan McRae and Moritz Wagner both added 11.
That group played a big chunk of the second quarter when the Wizards poured in 38 points.
“We pride ourselves on going out there and playing hard,” McRae said. “The second unit has to really move the ball and get after people defensively.”
One encouraging development for the Suns is the improved play of forward Cheick Diallo, who had 17 points and 10 rebounds in 23 minutes off the bench. He shot 7 of 8 from the field.
With Deandre Ayton suspended and Aron Baynes hurt, Diallo been forced into a bigger role and responded.
“He’s about the only guy we have right now that can catch the ball and try to finish with some intensity about the rim,” Williams said.
Wizards: Guard C.J. Miles hurt his left wrist in the loss to the Nuggets. Brooks said he won’t play the rest of the road trip and the results of his MRI should be available soon.
Suns: Ayton missed the 16th game of his 25-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy after testing positive for a diuretic. He’ll be eligible to return against the Clippers on Dec. 17. Baynes missed the game with a right hip flexor strain.
Wizards: At Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.
Suns: Host Dallas on Friday night.
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