Bradley Beal delivered his best game with his new team in his first encounter with his old one.
Beal poured in a season-high 43 points to lead the visiting Phoenix Suns to a 140-112 blowout of the Washington Wizards on Sunday in the three-time All-Star's return to the arena he called home for 11 seasons.
The veteran guard was facing the rebuilding Wizards for the first time since being traded by Washington to the Suns in June. Beal missed the Suns' win over the Wizards in Phoenix in December due to a sprained ankle.
Beal was selected by the Wizards with the third overall pick in the 2012 draft and ranks second in franchise history in points and third in games played.
The 30-year-old had 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting in the first quarter to help stake Phoenix to an early 42-28 lead, then added 12 more in the second as the Suns opened up a commanding 79-58 advantage at half-time.
RT if you're grateful Bradley Beal is a Sunpic.twitter.com/nMUcMK4ajH— Phoenix Suns (@Suns) February 4, 2024
Phoenix's lead never got to under 19 points in the second half as it coasted to its 10th win in 13 games. The Suns also received 18 points each from Kevin Durant and Jusuf Nurkic, who added 13 rebounds and eight assists.
Deni Avdija had 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting to lead Washington, which lost its third straight game to drop to 9-40 on the season.
Jazz beat Bucks behind dominant fourth quarter
Lauri Markkanen led a balanced Utah attack with 21 points and the Jazz dominated the fourth quarter to rally for a 123-108 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.
Utah trailed by 16 points late in the third quarter before outscoring Milwaukee by a whopping 40-13 margin in the fourth to halt a three-game losing streak and drop the Bucks to 1-3 since head coach Doc Rivers took over the team last week.
Playing for the second time in as many nights, Milwaukee ran out of gas in the final period as it missed 13 of 17 field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter. The Jazz, meanwhile, shot 60 per cent over the final 12 minutes.
Keyonte George had 10 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter and was one of seven Utah players to score in double figures. The rookie added 10 rebounds, while John Collins also posted a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Down 95-83 after three quarters, the Jazz began the fourth on a 21-7 run to take a 104-102 lead on Markkanen's 3-pointer with 6:26 left. They put the game away soon afterward with an 18-3 flurry that staked Utah to a 122-108 advantage with under two minutes to go. George had eight points during that spurt.
The Bucks lost despite a 33-point, 13-assist effort from Giannis Antetokounmpo and a 27-point performance from Bobby Portis.
Clippers stay hot by extending Heat's woes
Kawhi Leonard had 25 points and 11 rebounds and the Los Angeles Clippers pulled away late to hand the still-slumping Miami Heat a 103-95 loss.
James Harden scored 11 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter and finished with 11 assists as the red-hot Clippers won for the eighth time in nine games. Los Angeles is an NBA-best 25-5 since Dec. 1.
After breaking out of a seven-game losing streak by winning their previous two games, the Heat struggled to an 8-for-30 shooting effort from 3-point range on a night they were without one of their best outside shooters in Tyler Herro, who was scratched due to a headache.
The Clippers, meanwhile, went 16 of 39 (41 per cent) from beyond the arc with Harden leading the way by hitting five of his nine 3-point tries.
Despite its shooting woes, Miami held a 72-71 edge with nine minutes left before the Clippers took control. Los Angeles broke open the game with a 20-6 run, capped by back-to-back Harden 3-pointers, to take a 91-78 lead with five minutes remaining.
The Heat fought back and got to within 99-95 on Jimmy Butler's 3-point play with 13.3 seconds left, but Paul George and Leonard each made two free throws in the closing stages to end any comeback hopes.
CLIPPERS WIN!!! pic.twitter.com/3uMOBURRHn— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) February 5, 2024
Butler had 21 points and Terry Rozier scored 17 for Miami, which also received 14 points and 13 rebounds from Bam Adebayo.