Beal boost sparks Wizards’ waltz
Bradley Beal fell a point short of his career high on Sunday.
He’ ll have to settle for making a fan out of Chris Paul.
Beal scored 41 points — including 18 during the third quarter — in the Washington Wizards’ 117-110 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
In the process, he left ninetime All-Star Paul thoroughly impressed.
“Brad looks like a totally different person,” said Paul, who scored 13 points and had 12 assists for the Clippers.
“This is the Bradley Beal he should be all the time. Tonight he was aggressive. In order for this team to be as good as they probably want to be, he’s got to be like that.”
Markieff Morris had 12 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter and John Wall added 18 points and 11 assists for the Wizards.
After going down by seven, Washington closed the game on a 22-8 run to seal its third straight win.
The Wizards shot 80 percent (12 of 15) from the floor in the fourth, and on the other end held Blake Griffin scoreless after he drained 26 points in his first three periods.
“We wanted to make him shoot jump shots,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said.
“The ones he was making, in the second half he still made a few, but we still just wanted to stay with that strategy. It paid off.”
DeAndre Jordan added 13 points and 17 rebounds for Los Angeles, which played the final 68 seconds minus ejected coach Doc Rivers.
“This little stretch we’ve been winning games, but our defense still hasn’t been great,” Paul said.
“You want to win and learn at the same time, and it finally caught up with us.”
Beal was 6 of 10 on 3-pointers and shot 13 of 23 from the floor during a night when he repeatedly took the initiative to drive the lane.
And after his outburst in the third quarter helped Washington recover from an 11-point deficit, Beal’s 3-pointer from the right off Wall’s transition feed knotted the score at 102 with 5:01 left.
Some 90 seconds later, Morris’ alley-oop slam of Wall’s lob gave Washington a 106-104 lead, its first after halftime.
Then Morris’ leaning jumper after Jordan missed a pair of free throws made the lead six.
Rivers received two technicals in the aftermath, and Beal hit both foul shots to make it 116-108 with 1:08 to play.
“He was able to get to the paint, get to the rim and get to the free throw line,” Wall said of Beal.
“We found him a couple of times in transition for some 3s. He was being aggressive on his own.
“That kind of helped us get back into the game.”
Clippers: Griffin passed Elton Brand for third on LA’s career scoring list. ... Forward Luc Mbah a Moute (shoulder) returned to the starting lineup after missing two games.
Wizards: Forward Kelly Oubre did not play and is in the league’s concussion protocol after running into a screen by Detroit’s Aron Baynes on Friday, coach Scott Brooks said.
Three of Griffin’s seven assists resulted in alley-oop dunks for the acrobatic Jordan, including a stunning reverse slam that made it 83-80 with 2:13 left in the third quarter.
On the other end, Morris’ tomahawk dunk over Marreese Speights tied it 89-89 early in the fourth and brought the Verizon Center crowd to its feet.
Rivers’ dismissal came after his son, Clippers guard Austin Rivers, received his fifth technical of the season late in the first half.
Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal gestures after draining a three-pointer against the LA Clippers at Verizon Center in Washington on Sunday. The Wizards won 117-110.