Bradley Beal returns to Washington for the first time when the Phoenix Suns visit the Wizards on Sunday.
Beal, who averaged 22.1 points per game over 11 seasons in Washington and is the second-leading scorer in franchise history, was traded to the Suns in June. The shooting guard is averaging 17.1 points per game for Phoenix but has missed 24 games this season with back issues and an ankle sprain.
“I have no idea what to expect, what to feel,” Beal said about his return to D.C., according to the Arizona Republic. “But I’m kind of going in with just an open mind, open heart, embracing all the feels, embracing all the love. … Just take it all in.”
Beal has been struggling with effects of a broken nose on Jan. 26 against Indiana. In a loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night, he took another blow to the nose and was bleeding. Wearing a mask, Beal had 14 points and 10 assists, but turned the ball over four times and went 0 of 7 from three-point range.
The Suns will look to end their marathon seven-game road trip with a win after splitting the first six games.
The Hawks hit 17 three-point shots and scored 21 points off 17 Suns turnovers to upset visiting Phoenix 129-120. Kevin Durant led the Suns with 35 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. Devin Booker added 24 points as all five Suns starters reached double figures.
“Our disposition wasn’t great to start the game,” Suns coach Frank Vogel said. “We didn’t have the same energy, focus and awareness that we had the last two games.”
Washington dropped a 110-102 decision to the Miami Heat on Friday and fell to 2-3 under interim coach Brian Keefe, who replaced Wes Unseld, Jr. Corey Kispert scored a season-high 26 points for Washington, which was outscored 31-15 in the third quarter.
“As a team, we have a lot of bad habits that have built up over the last two years that we need to fix,” Kispert said. “It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s not going to happen in a week, but I hope … the fans see how we’re kind of unwinding those bad habits and putting a much better foot forward, and that happens with our defense first.”
Jordan Poole had 16 points and 10 assists, and Daniel Gafford added 11 points and 14 rebounds for the Wizards, who rallied in the fourth quarter but couldn’t make it a one-possession game.
“I liked how he got to the teeth of the defense,” Keefe said of Poole. “I liked how he played aggressive. … Jordan can see the court. Jordan can play-make for us.”
Wizards point guard Tyus Jones left the game late in the third quarter with a right ankle sprain and Keefe did not have an update after the game.
Durant scored 28 points and Booker scored 11 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter as the Suns rallied to beat the Wizards 112-108 in Phoenix on Dec. 17. Gafford had 26 points and 17 rebounds for the Wizards.
–Field Level Media
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