Wizards’ Bradley Beal will miss at least three games with a hamstring strain


The Washington Wizards will be without their franchise player for at least three games after Bradley Beal strained his right hamstring early in the first quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The security guard had an MRI scan on Monday and will be checked again in a week, the team said. The severity of the strain has not been made public, but no matter what, Beal will miss a crucial point of the season as the Wizards (11-13) attempt to pull themselves out of a streak in which they lost six of seven. The Athletic first reported the news from Beal’s timeline.

Washington visits the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday and the Indiana Pacers on Friday before returning home to face the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday. Should Beal miss just a week – which is unlikely given that he would need to recondition after so much playing time – he could be back on the court in time for a home game against the Brooklyn Nets next Monday. After that, the Wizards begin a six-game journey where they face Denver, both teams from Los Angeles, Phoenix, Utah and Sacramento within 10 days.

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This is the second time this season that Beal, who is in the first year of a five-year, $251 million-max contract, will miss at least a week after being sidelined for five games from Nov. 6-November. 13 after testing positive for the coronavirus. He missed an extra game on November 23 with a thigh contusion.

If there’s a silver lining for the Wizards, it’s that they’re 4-2 this season without their star guard — and they’re beating capable teams, too. Home wins against the Luka Doncic-led Dallas Mavericks and the thriving Utah Jazz stand out.

“I think we showed that sometimes we were resilient enough to stick together and react, play well,” said coach Wes Unseld Jr. Sunday after the loss to the Lakers. “I know he missed a few games here and there for various reasons – sometimes that helps the lads, that mobilizes the group, brings them together. You dig down and you find a way. But there’s no question, we don’t want to play without him for long.”

Those victories without Beal came as Washington made its move. Now, Wizards are struggling to open games with energy, their shot rate has dropped and their defenses are sagging under the pressure.

Beal is the third rotation player to hit the injury report over an extended period. Substitute Delon Wright has not played since October 25 with a hamstring strain, and backup forward Rui Hachimura has not played since November 18 with a right ankle sprain and bruised bone. Unseld said Sunday that Wright will start playing two-on-two and three-on-three games for the first time since his injury during the Wizards’ upcoming road trip to the Western Conference.

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Beal’s absence will demand more from any Wizards player, but especially Kyle Kuzma, who is averaging a career-high 20.6 points and 7.7 rebounds, and Kristaps Porzingis, who is averaging 21.8 points and 8.8 rebounds achieved. Porzingis said on Sunday the key to success without Beal is to focus on defence.

“We have big shoes to fill, the rest of the team. I think we had those moments when Brad was out with Covid. We reacted pretty well, played with a lot of energy. We knew we had to pick up – everyone had to pick up,” said Porzingis. “And most importantly, we had to understand that it’s not going to be that much on offense. We will find our situations offensively and of course we are a different team offensively without Brad. But it’s defense that we really need to focus on to be able to compete without him.”

For Beal, the thigh strain comes towards the end of an injury-ridden calendar year. He ended his 2021-22 season in early February after undergoing wrist surgery to repair a torn scapholunate ligament.