Bradley Beal Sends Strong Message on ‘Aggressive’ DeMar DeRozan

Chicago Bulls

Getty Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards celebrates.

With just seconds to go, Chicago Bulls star DeMar DeRozan pulled up for a very familiar-looking shot. It was from a different location on the floor but it was in the very same gym where DeRozan snatched the hearts away from Washington Wizards fans last year.

In the second of back-to-back game-winning shots last season, DeRozan knocked down a three in front of the Bulls’ bench which erupted in celebration.

There was no repeat as DeRozan’s three – this time from the top of the key, rimmed out.

The Bulls lost to Washington 102-100 to bring their record to 1-1 with the home opener as the second leg of this, their first back-to-back of the season. Bradley Beal – who hit what was ultimately the game-winning shot on DeRozan – spoke of taking the challenge on the other end as well in the late moments of the contest.

Beal Demanded DeRozan Assignment

DeRozan finished the night with 32 points including 12 points in the fourth quarter alone. But, after DeRozan drew a foul on Wizards forward, Deni Avdija with a little over three minutes to go in the game, Beal made a business decision.

He told his head coach Wes Unseld Jr. to put him on the game’s high scorer with his only intention being to disrupt the Bulls’ star.

“They called a foul on the baseline and I was like, ‘just let me guard him’, said Beal of his words in the Wizards’ huddle during the ensuing timeout. “DeMar’s aggressive. He’s always going to look to play through hands and play through contact. So, you know, I study DeMar. I love his game…I won’t say I knew what was coming but I can get a feel of what he liked and what move he was going to go to. Not saying I was going to stop him but I was going to make it a lot tougher, for sure. I was going to make him work. That was my whole game plan, I guess.”

DeRozan scored six of his 12 fourth-quarter points after Beal took on the assignment.

But two came in transition with DeRozan attacking Monte Morris and Kristaps Porzingis and drawing fouls while the other came after DeRozan stole the ball and finished off the play with a thunderous dunk.

None of them came on Beal and on the final play the Wizards set up a line of defense on the perimeter with Avdija, forward Anthony Gil on DeRozan, and guard Delon Wright.

The latter two are plus defenders and Avdija stands 6-foot-9.

Beal, who had just 19 points in the game but scored 11 of them in the fourth quarter including the Wizards’ final six points, said that even he thought DeRozan’s three-pointer for the game was going in.

Missed Opportunities

No one will fault Bulls center Nikola Vucevic for this loss. He was the only other Bulls player to crack 20 points with Zach LaVine sidelined for the second game in a row and hit a career-best 12 free throws in this game.

But missed a three that would have given the Bulls a one-point lead with 50 seconds to go on a play that featured similar screen action with DeRozan as the latter’s final attempt.

After the game, the Wizards NBC affiliate tweeted out the large free-throw disparity between the teams. It was something Beal also cited as a reason for taking on the challenge of guarding DeRozan as Chicago finished with 33 attempts to Washington’s 11.

“Give him a different look,” Beal said of the switch. “Mess with the ball, jab at the all, tap his elbow without the ref looking. Doing this little stuff that I can get away with because they were really whistle-happy down there.”

Last season, the Bulls had 13 games in which they shot at least 30 free-throw attempts.

They went a surprising 6-7 in those games but none of their opponents had fewer than 17 attempts at the charity stripe.