Bradley Beal called out his Wizards teammates for a lack of defensive effort after Saturday’s loss in Orlando, relays Candace Buckner of The Washington Post. The fifth-year shooting guard, who signed a five-year extension over the summer worth nearly $128MM, hinted that lineup changes could be coming soon if things don’t change. “The biggest thing we can control is our defense and that’s all about effort and wanting to play,” Beal said. “I think coach [Scott Brooks] is pretty fed up with the way we’re playing and I think he’s going to start playing guys who want to play and guys who want to show up.” The Magic were able to make up a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter when reserves Trey Burke, Marcus Thornton, Kelly Oubre and Jason Smith were on the court together, so those are probably the players Beal is talking about.
There’s more this morning from the Southeast Division:
- The Wizards are being careful with point guard John Wall after two offseason knee surgeries, which will put a greater burden on Beal, writes J. Michael of CSNMidAtlantic. Wall sat out Saturday’s game, which was the second night of a back-to-back, a situation where Wall will likely be held out as a precaution, at least for a while. Washington has three more back-to-backs on the schedule in November and two in December. “Trey and Tomas [Satoransky] got to step up as well and lead us as point guards,” Beal said. “I just got to be aggressive, play my game. Not take over and feel like I’ve got to do everything. I can’t do it by myself.”
- Hawks guard Kent Bazemore is off to a rocky start after signing a four-year, $70MM contract this summer, notes Chris Vivlamore of The Atlanta Journal Constitution. He shot just 28% from the floor during the team’s first five games and is trying to find other ways to contribute until his scoring touch returns. “That’s one of the main reasons they brought me back, my tenacity and my love and passion for the game,” Bazemore said. “At times I’ve gotten a little down on myself. I’m human. It’s good that I can finally recognize that there is a time and place for everything and the middle of a game is not the time to get down on yourself.”
- D.J. Augustin‘s scoring has been a pleasant early-season surprise for the Magic, writes John Denton of NBA.com. The veteran point guard, who signed a four-year deal with Orlando this summer, is averaging 7.8 points per game off the bench in limited minutes. “He’s really grown,” said Orlando coach Frank Vogel. “I had him a couple of years ago [in Indiana] and he’s improved as a player. He’s not just a catch-and-shoot guy. He’s making good basketball plays with the pass and his creativity with creating his own shot as well has improved. So he’s given us a big lift.’’