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PREVIEW: Washington Wizards’ Bradley Beal looks to bounce back against Charlotte Hornets

Feb 3, 2021; Miami, Florida, USA; Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal (3) drives the ball around Miami Heat forward Precious Achiuwa (5) during the first half at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Bradley Beal leads the league in scoring with 33.3 points per game but even the best can have an off night, as the Washington Wizards star did in Friday’s 122-95 loss to the Miami Heat.

Beal hopes to be himself again when Washington returns to the court on Sunday afternoon against the Hornets in Charlotte, N.C.

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“Every human being is due for a bad day,” Beal said after scoring just seven points on 1-for-14 shooting at Miami.

He missed his first 13 shots from the field, one of which was rejected emphatically by Heat forward Bam Adebayo. He did not make a field-goal attempt until hitting a 3-pointer with 9:46 left in the third quarter.

LaMelo Ball put together a Beal-type scoring effort with 34 points for the Hornets, who fell to the Utah Jazz 138-121 on Friday. Ball also had eight assists without a turnover.

The rookie is averaging 15.9 points and 5.7 assists over the Hornets’ past 10 games.

“That’s big for us, we need that,” Charlotte coach James Borrego said. “When I see that ratio, good things are going to happen for us most times than not, no matter if the shots go in or not.”

Washington has not held an opponent under 100 points yet this season and has a 116.6 defensive rating.

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The Wizards have been solid defending near the rim, thanks to the frontcourt of Rui Hachimura and Robin Lopez. But it’s been a different story defending the perimeter, with opponents shooting 39.3 percent from 3-point distance.

Alex Len led Washington Friday with 18 points and Russell Westbrook had 13, but it didn’t make much difference as the Wizards trailed by as many as 37 points and split the second of back-to-back games in Miami.

“We didn’t come out with the right frame of mind to compete against a team that’s fighting for their lives as well,” Washington coach Scott Brooks said.

Gordon Hayward (23.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game) had 25 points and 10 rebounds, but the Hornets couldn’t overcome a franchise-record 26 3-pointers by Utah.

Charlotte had Terry Rozier back in its lineup after he missed the two prior games with an ankle injury. P.J. Washington (foot) remained out, and it’s unclear if he will be available against the Wizards.

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Adding to those issues was Devonte’ Graham exiting in the second quarter with a strained groin after scoring 11 points.

Still, Borrego felt encouraged by the team’s performance on the offensive end against one of the NBA’s top defensive units.

“They kept battling and fighting and we’ve just got to take that into the way we played there in the second half, just taking that into our next game,” Borrego said.

For Washington, point guard Raul Neto sat out against the Heat with a groin injury.

–Field Level Media