Wizards’ Bradley Beal hits his stride, still waits for John Wall

He’s playing well with Crawford

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It’s hard to imagine a 19-year-old NBA rookie, a spark plug of speed and energy, playing better by slowing down. But it’s exactly what Bradley Beal says he’s done in his past few games, at least mentally.

Beal struggled with consistency out of the gate, playing well one night and poorly the next. Like most rookies, Beal simply was experiencing growing pains.

But in the past six games, he has averaged 15.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists.

It’s as though a light clicked on for the Wizards’ shooting guard.

“I’m just getting more comfortable,” Beal said. “The game is slowing down for me. I’m just taking my time and taking what the defense is giving me. I’m really just letting the game come to me.”

It’s safe to say Washington (3-16) is struggling without its floor leader, point guard John Wall, who is sidelined with a stress injury to his left knee.

Ironically, it could be Beal who misses Wall the most, even though the two haven’t played together.

Both were looking forward to running up and down the court together and playing an up-tempo style.

In his first few games, Beal would head straight toward Wall nearly every time he came off the court to ask his future backcourt mate for advice.

But with Wall’s return date up in the air, Beal has had to look elsewhere, and he’s developing a nice rhythm with Jordan Crawford.

Crawford got the nod at point guard when Wall’s backup, A.J. Price, fractured his right hand in a 101-97loss to Golden State last Saturday.

Crawford has noticed Beal’s improvement.

“He’s more aggressive, that’s the main thing,” Crawford said. “He’s not passing up as many shots as he was early on.”

Beal already carries himself with the confidence of a veteran and is taking the Wizards’ troubles in stride. Washington may have the worst record in the NBA, but you’d never know it by listening to Beal.

“I have the mentality that nobody can beat us,” Beal said. “That’s just how I think, and I’m pretty sure that’s how my teammates [think]. There’s not a moment out here where we think we’re going to lose a game.”

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