- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 6, 2016

Bradley Beal’s 3-point shooting ability, usually the reliable hammer in his tool kit, had flagged. In February, he shot just 33.8 percent from behind the 3-point line.

His remedy was to push into the paint more often, something many had hoped he would do even when his 3-point shooting was at its peak. So, Saturday night, the Washington Wizards guard put the ball down for two hard right-handed dribbles, jumped and was challenged by 6-foot-11 Indiana Pacers rookie Myles Turner.

Beal’s left leg went up when Turner made waist-to-waist contact. The rest of Beal’s body followed. He landed on his right hip with a decisive thud that made Turner shout, then immediately approach Beal. The Wizards‘ second-leading scorer was on the ground, grimacing with 6:17 to play in the third quarter of a 100-99 loss.

Eventually, Beal limped off the floor. He groaned when rising from the chair at his locker after the game. Slowly, he walked into the trainer’s room, where he has spent so much time in his four-year career.

The Wizards said Beal sprained his pelvis in the fall. Otherwise, the team had little to add about the injury Saturday night and did not provide an update on Sunday. Players were scheduled to receive treatment on Sunday instead of practicing, a common schedule following back-to-back games. On Monday, the team flies to Portland, practices there, then opens a crucial three-game West Coast road trip against the Trail Blazers on Tuesday.

Beal declined to speak to reporters when he was leaving the locker room. A team staff member wore Beal’s backpack for him as they took their time walking out.

Wizards coach Randy Wittman shot back at a reporter who suggested Beal may miss extended time.

“How do you know we’re not going to play with him for a long stretch?” Wittman said. “I always think positive. Not negatively. He’s going to be with us. Next question.”

In 2014, Lance Stephenson, then with the Charlotte Hornets, sprained his pelvis. He missed 14 games.

The injury for Beal keeps with a disruptive trend. Since entering the league in 2012, Beal has not played more than 73 games in a season. If Beal misses five of the Wizards‘ remaining 20 games, he’ll tie his career-low with 56 games played.

Counting Saturday night’s game, Beal has missed almost one quarter — 24.3 percent — of the regular-season games he could have played in since entering the league in 2012. Plus, when he returns from injuries like a stress fracture in his lower right leg or broken nose, he is on a minutes restriction, further truncating his contribution.

Beal is a restricted free agent at the end of the season. He turned down a lucrative contract extension offer from the Wizards before the season began, saying he felt he is a player worthy of a maximum contract.

“It’s kind of a weight lifted off of my shoulders,” Beal said at the time. “All I have to do is go out and just worry about playing.”

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