- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Safely away from the carnage, Bradley Beal stood with a smile on his face as he overlooked the Washington Wizards’ practice court Tuesday afternoon. The club had organized an NBA-range 3-point contest for the media. It went as expected, which could be a two-fold issue for Beal: What occurred can’t be unseen, and the fleeting chance the crashing bricks delivered by media members could somehow permeate his shooting ability exists.

He’ll have time to think about it. Beal will miss his third consecutive game Wednesday night when the Wizards travel to Toronto and wrap the first “half” of the season against the dangerous Raptors. He injured his big toe against the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 4. The injury forced him to leave the next day’s game early and each game since. Beal has missed 11 games this season.

“He’s got an inflamed big toe right now,” coach Randy Wittman said. “I think he’s going to get another opinion. … I don’t know the medical term.”



The Wizards may be without power forward Kris Humphries, too. When Humphries landed on his back in the first quarter Monday night against Orlando, the thud sounded like a dump truck flipping over. He walked stiffly out of the arena saying only, “I’m hurting, bro,” when asked how he felt. Humphries was at practice Tuesday, but did not participate. Wittman did not elaborate on Humphries’ availability for Wednesday night’s game.

Though without Beal, the Wizards feel the last two games have kicked aside their malaise that carried from the end of January into February. Washington pulverized the Brooklyn Nets last Saturday and toyed with the Orlando Magic in a 96-80 win Monday night. Wizards point guard John Wall said the club had turned quiet during their five-game losing streak that started Jan. 28 and ran until Feb. 5. They lost at home and on the road during the lull. One of the home losses was to the Raptors, a team the Wizards are unable to counter. Their final regular-season chance comes Wednesday.

“That would be huge, beating Toronto up there,” center Marcin Gortat said. “But we all know that’s going to be a tough game. Just like after Brooklyn game, just the same after Orlando, we can’t get excited like we won the championship. We have to stay focused on everything we do. We’re going to need everybody.

“We definitely want to get this one in Toronto. It’s not going to be easy, we all know that.”

Toronto plays and is constructed similar to the Eastern Conference leading Atlanta Hawks. Washington does not deal well with either. This season, the Wizards are a combined 0-5 against the Hawks and Raptors.

When Atlanta whipsawed the Wizards by 31 points in early January, Washington turned the ball over 19 times. It put up another 20 turnovers against the Hawks in a 106-102 home loss.

In early November, the Wizards had 19 assists and 13 turnovers — well off the three-to-one or better ratio they strive for — in a 19-point loss to Toronto. A 120-116 overtime home loss to the Raptors on Jan. 31 produced a 26-to-22 ratio. The Raptors scored 31 points off Washington turnovers and dominated the game until an unexpected fourth-quarter rally moved it into overtime.

“We could have beat them here last time,” Wall said. “The first time, they blew us out. This is the last time we play this team until we maybe play them in the playoffs. So, we got to go out there and try to let this team know they don’t have full advantage and they can dominate you any time they want.”

Fixing the five-game slide against two below-average opponents was nice. Beating Toronto would be confirmation most issues were fixed before the all-star break. The Wizards will have a nine-day gap between games before starting the remainder of the schedule with an important home game against the finally organized Cleveland Cavaliers.

The time off is plenty of time to consider what happened in the 54 games before the break. And, for Beal, it’s a chance to heal toe and mind after the media showed a slump it will never come out of.

• Todd Dybas can be reached at tdybas@washingtontimes.com.

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