LOS ANGELES ¡ª Bradley Beal couldn¡¯t miss in his closed-practice shooting sessions. However, when the Washington Wizards guard hit the Staples Center stage Saturday night for the Three-Point Shootout, Beal¡¯s touch deserted him in the spotlight.
Beal finished with 15 points in the first round, not enough to advance to the top three. Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker won the contest, sizzling with an all-time high of 28 in the final round to defeat Golden State¡¯s Klay Thompson, a former champion in the event who recorded a final-round 25.
Beal believed his work before the shootout might have played a role in his performance.
¡°I might have over-prepared myself,¡± Beal said. ¡°I came in and put a little too much pressure on myself, but it was fun. I got a good experience. It¡¯s definitely different when it¡¯s showtime. I will say that. It¡¯s totally different.¡±
A slow start doomed Beal. But by the time he reached the fourth rack, stacked with money balls counting for two points, he had found his rhythm. Beal knocked down four of five shots, but the sweet shooting stroke arrived too late.
Beal came up just short in the final round in 2014, and he thought this time would be different. It was ¡ª but only as it related to his nerves.
¡°I feel like I was a little more nervous this time,¡± Beal said. ¡°I feel like I was a lot stronger, clanking off the glass. Oh, man. It was just downhill from there. But it was fun. It was a great experience.¡±
At least Beal had a better showing than Oklahoma City¡¯s Paul George, who finished with a score of nine in the first round.
¡°Hey, I got in double digits, man,¡± Beal said.
Although Beal¡¯s Saturday night did not go as planned, he still has the main event. On Sunday, Beal will make his first appearance as an all-star as a reserve selected by LeBron James for the team he is captaining.
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