- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 8, 2018

In school, Bradley Beal learned to pick his battles. When his teacher “went off,” Beal would gauge whether to interject or to stay silent.

So when Wizards coach Scott Brooks poured through film Sunday, Beal chose the latter.

Typically, it’s common for a number of Wizards coaches and players to speak up to help correct errors or teach during a film session. Think of a collaborative workplace, rather than a lecture.

This time, only one voice — Brooks‘ voice — could be heard in the lesson.

“This was one of those times where you kept your hand under the desk,” Beal said.

The Wizards went back to school Sunday after Brooks blasted his team for a 103-97 loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Friday. The Wizards coach called them selfish, porous and threatened to take away playing time. Brooks has been vocal after embarrassing losses before, but the comments were his harshest, yet.

The Wizards have dropped 13 of their last 19 games. As a result, they’ve fallen to eighth in the Eastern Conference — where they would face the top-seeded Toronto Raptors, if the playoffs started today. Washington has lost also a season-high four straight.

With two games left in the regular season, Brooks combed through clips to remind the Wizards of how to play “the right way.” He used footage from last year’s playoffs — when Washington was closing out on defense and shared the basketball.

And he showed them the bad, as well.

“The team we were watching on film wasn’t us,” Beal said.

The Wizards haven’t looked like a playoff team of late. How can the Wizards, fighting for the best possible seed, no-show against a team like the Atlanta Hawks, whose management would prefer losses over wins for the best possible draft pick?

But the problems against sub .500 teams keep happening.

Center Marcin Gortat said the “craziest” thing about the Wizards is that “you never know what kind of team you’re going to have.”

The problems, he said, need to be corrected before the playoffs.

“Let’s do this on Tuesday and Wednesday,” Gortat said. “When we’re going to get out on the court, we’re going to show who we are and what we represent and what we stand for.”

Easier said than done. But the next two games could be a good test. The Wizards will face a banged-up Boston Celtics squad on Tuesday, and then the Orlando Magic on Wednesday.

Both are beatable on paper, especially the Magic — who, like the Hawks, are right in the middle of the tank race. They aren’t guaranteed wins, but Brooks said he can live with losses as long as his team competes and “plays for each other.”

Beal, meanwhile, said the Wizards’ still back Brooks “100 percent.” He dismissed the notion that poor performances on the court are the result of tuning out the coach.

“If coach has to get us ready for a game, then there’s something wrong,” Beal said. “As a man and as a player, this is something that we do. This is our career. This is something that — we should be ready for a game.”

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