Two of the highest scoring non-All-Stars go head-to-head Monday night when the Washington Wizards host the Golden State Warriors.
Bradley Beal and D’Angelo Russell will be in the spotlight as the Wizards seek their first three-game winning streak of the season, while the Warriors go for just their second winning streak of any length.
Beal has backed some strong words about not being selected among the Eastern Conference reserves by scoring 34 or more points in six straight games, a run in which he’s averaged 38.2 points, the second-best clip in the NBA behind Damian Lillard’s historic 48.8.
Beal added the sixth game to his flurry Saturday night when he went for 34 in a duel with fellow snub Kyrie Irving in a 113-107 win over the Brooklyn Nets that gave the Wizards two straight wins for just the third time this season.
Beal got an unusual amount of help against the Nets, with the team’s four-man bench crew of Thomas Bryant (17 points), Davis Bertans (11), Ish Smith (11) and Troy Brown (eight) combining for 47 points.
The Wizards hope to add a key piece to their depth as early as Monday night, when rookie Rui Hachimura, who last week was named to the Rising Stars Game on All-Star Weekend, is expected to return from a groin injury.
Wizards coach Scott Brooks said he hopes Hachimura is healthy enough to put on a nice show for the fans in his native Japan on All-Star Weekend.
“(He is) exactly what the NBA is about,” Brooks gushed to reporters recently. “You work hard, you dream big and you’ve got an opportunity. With his skill set, he’s only going to get better. Rui is right there with all (the great players) I have ever coached. He’s well respected amongst his peers and his opponents know what he’s about.”
In order for the Wizards to improve upon the 2-0 start to their six-game homestand, they are going to have to deal with a Warriors team that’s also been getting healthier.
For the first time all season, the Warriors fielded a complete roster of healthy players — with the exception of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, both out long-term — when former starter Kevon Looney returned from an 18-game absence due to abdominal soreness in Saturday’s 131-112 win at Cleveland.
Draymond Green was the star of an impressive show against the Cavaliers, contributing a career-high-tying 16 assists to a Warriors attack that buried the hosts with a 44-point third quarter featuring a franchise-record-tying 10 3-pointers.
The veteran Green took particular joy throwing alley-oops to Golden State’s young big men who have gotten a chance to impress with Looney out of action and Willie Cauley-Stein recently traded to Dallas.
“Having a lob threat is always been something that I cherish,” Green told reporters after the win. “They’re begging for lobs, so it’s like a match made in heaven for me because I love people begging for a lob because I like to throw them.”
Green also took time to find Russell on the perimeter in the win. The league’s fourth-leading 3-point shooter at 3.8 makes per game, Russell added six to his total against the Cavaliers, accounting for all but one of his points.
The 19 points were his fewest in a seven-game run in which he’s averaged 26.4 and bombed in a total of 35 threes.
The last time Beal and Russell were on the same court, the Washington guard got the better of a high-scoring matchup, 31-28, when the Wizards faced Russell’s Nets last February.
–Field Level Media