‘Appreciative’ Beal puts up 43 in return to D.C.

NBA

WASHINGTON — Bradley Beal scored a season-high 43 points in his return to Washington and the Phoenix Suns routed the Wizards 140-112 on Sunday.

Beal played 11 seasons in Washington before being dealt to Phoenix last offseason. He received a video tribute and standing ovation during player introductions before the game. Then he scored 26 points in the first half.

“I guess I know this gym a little bit,” Beal said.

He had 41 after three quarters and then exited for good with 8:44 to play.

Kevin Durant and Jusuf Nurkic scored 18 points apiece for Phoenix, and Devin Booker had 14. The Suns went 4-3 on a seven-game trip.

Deni Avdija had 24 points for the Wizards. They were without Kyle Kuzma because of left shoulder soreness.

Beal scored 14 of Phoenix’s 42 first-quarter points, but the Wizards kept it competitive for a little while. They trailed by 11 in the second before an 11-2 run by the Suns made it 74-54.

“We took a little bit of a step back today, and that starts with me,” Wizards interim coach Brian Keefe said. “We didn’t have the right mindset.”

It was 79-58 at halftime, with the Suns having shot 69% from the field. They finished the game at 61.4%, with Beal going 16 of 21.

Beal’s layup early in the third quarter prompted a quick timeout by Washington, just 54 seconds into the half. The lead reached 32 early in the fourth.

The Suns rebounded from a 129-120 loss to Atlanta two days earlier.

“We had a great disposition because of how we played against Atlanta. None of us were happy with how that game went,” coach Frank Vogel said. “Our guys came in and wanted to get this last game of the trip, also wanted to get it for Brad. I thought all of his teammates rallied around his homecoming.”

Although Washington could do nothing to slow down the Suns until their stars left the game, the Wizards did shoot 49.5% themselves. But they were only 7 of 32 from 3-point range.

Daniel Gafford scored 15 points on 7-for-7 shooting for the Wizards.

Beal played 31:01 and was the only person to reach 28 minutes for either team. Thirteen players scored for Phoenix.

“I thought we played the game with an edge that was lacking in Atlanta,” Vogel said. “When you’re getting stops and you’re playing in the open court, we can be really dynamic offensively.”

Nurkic had 13 rebounds and eight assists, and Beal had six assists in addition to all his scoring.

Eugene Omoruyi had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Wizards.

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