Atop a basketball court colored like frosted wild berry pop tarts, Bradley Beal made his home debut in a Phoenix Suns’ uniform. An excited crowd was in attendance to experience the In-Season Tournament game against the Lakers, while lining up to buy El Valle merchandise from the team shop.
Beal displayed his athleticism throughout the first half, testing and contorting to score his 20 first-half points on 7-of-10 shooting in 16 minutes played. It was clear why Frank Vogel waited until the 8th game of the season to let Beal play: due to his style of play, the lower back is vital to his effectiveness. That’s not to say that any other player wouldn’t need their lower back to work, but Beal’s affinity to get airborne and writhe puts added strain on the area.
He closed out the first half with a stop-and-go that shook Christian Wood, hesitating just enough to get by him and twisting at the rim to score as time expired. A little Deion Sanders two-step was the punctuation mark on his first-half exploits.
Bradley Beal at the buzzer!— Arizona Sports (@AZSports) November 11, 2023
Beal drops 20 points in the first half against the Lakers. pic.twitter.com/jqwUch3q2c
In the second half, Beal was certainly fatigued. His off-ball movement slowed, his hustle dwindled, his legs were heavy.
He shot the ball just 4 times, going 2-of-7, scored 4 points, and played 15:28. As his production waned, so too did the Suns’ lead. Up 96-89 entering the fourth, Beal’s inability to provide any offensive production allowed the Lakers to blitz the Suns and win the game. Beal was a -15 in the fourth.
You can’t put this solely on Beal. He is working himself back into game shape. The journey to 100% capacity Beal will take time. His explosiveness as a player, a skill that has made him a premier scorer in the league, was present in the first half. Soon it will be in the second half as well. He is adjusting to the re-acclimation of the pace of play as well as the minutes played.
Beal is working his way back into shape, and much akin to the team, it’s going to take time. The engine is still warming up as the team just passed the “10% through the season” mark. When they do begin to hum, Beal will be the beneficiary of the spacing due to Durant’s gravity and receiving passes from Point Book. All will be right int he world. Expect that In-Season Tournament court.