Wizards' bench delivers 4th straight win, 104-98 over Wolves
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Washington Wizards coach Randy Wittman has at times been handcuffed by a minutes restriction on star guard Bradley Beal due to a bothersome stress fracture in his right leg.
If there is some good that has come out of it, it's that Wittman has moved Beal to the bench to better control that playing time and give his second unit a big boost in the process.
Beal scored 26 points and Alan Anderson added 18 to lead the Wizards to their fourth straight victory, 104-98 over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night.
John Wall had 14 points and 12 assists, and Beal and Anderson led a Wizards bench that outscored Minnesota's second unit 64-18. Washington shot 50 percent, hit 11 of 29 3-pointers and scored 50 points in the paint to overcome 17 turnovers.
''I don't look at it as punishment or anything like that with Witt putting me on the bench,'' Beal said. ''Me just being aggressive, just taking advantage of matchups that are out there.''
Ricky Rubio had 22 points and six rebounds, Zach LaVine scored 21 and Karl-Anthony Towns had 14 points, 15 rebounds and five assists for the Timberwolves. Minnesota made 29 free throws to just nine for Washington, but 19 turnovers did in the young Wolves.
''We're a thin team. We're not deep,'' said coach Sam Mitchell, who was missing Kevin Garnett, Nemanja Bjelica and Nikola Pekovic. ''Every time in the game we had a chance, when we went to the bench we had a drop-off. We're going to the bench with young guys and they're going to the bench with veteran guys.''
After starting the season 23-28, the Wizards improved to 7-2 since the All-Star break, with the return of Nene, Beal and Anderson from injuries and a trade for Markieff Morris helping to fortify them as they push for the playoffs. They began the day in 10th place in the East.
''I think this year it's more the healthiest we've been,'' Wittman said. ''I think that's the main reason.''
Like much of this season, the Wizards teetered dangerously on the brink during the game. They trailed 21-9 in the first quarter amid a rash of turnovers before Wall got going. The blazing-fast point guard ignited Washington's transition game, finding Beal and Anderson open on the wings for open 3 after open 3.
The burly frontcourt of Marcin Gortat and Nene held Minnesota's dynamic young big men - Towns and Gorgui Dieng - to a combined 20 points.
''They're big, they're fast, they're physical, they know how to play,'' Mitchell said. ''If they get healthy, in my eyes they're going to be a tough out. But they've got to get there first.''
ANDERSON AT HOME
Anderson was playing in only his fourth game of the season after missing the first 55 while recovering from left ankle surgery. The Minneapolis native went 6 for 9, including four 3s, to help Washington overcome a shaky start.
''It's been a long, long journey with trying to get this ankle right,'' Anderson said. ''But it feels much better to contribute and to help us win.''
Rubio is a career 36 percent shooter, a flaw that's caused a great deal of consternation for a point guard who is otherwise elite as a passer and defender. But he has found a rhythm lately, shooting 41.3 percent in February, including 11 for 15 on shots at the rim to overcome a big bugaboo, and continued that in his first game in March. He went 6 for 14, including 2 for 3 on 3s, against the Wizards.
''They were letting me shoot the ball, so I was taking the shots and they were going in,'' Rubio said. ''I just read the defense and try to play my game.''
Wizards: G Gary Neal missed his 10th straight game with a sore right leg. ... After grabbing a career-high 20 rebounds in his previous game, Gortat had just four.
Timberwolves: Andrew Wiggins scored 17 points. ... F Greg Smith was signed to a 10-day deal Wednesday. He scored four points in 10 minutes. ... The Timberwolves held their annual Taste of the Timberwolves fundraising event on Tuesday night and raised $280,000 for the FastBreak Foundation.
Wizards: Visit Cleveland on Friday.
Timberwolves: Visit Milwaukee on Friday.