For the first time this season, the Washington Wizards played without All-Star Bradley Beal.
Coming into Saturday’s game, the 26-year-old shooting guard ranked third in the NBA averaging nearly 37 minutes per game and fifth in scoring at almost 28 points per contest.
The Wizards sorely missed Beal’s presence as they lost 107–100 to the New York Knicks before 19,033 at Capital One Arena in northwest D.C.
Beal sat out with a sore right leg and may play Monday at home against the Southeast Division-leading Miami Heat (24-8).
Washington beat the Knicks on Monday in New York where Beal led the team with 30 points, four rebounds and two blocked shots.
“When we’re not playing with [Beal], it’s very hard,” said Wizards forward Jordan McRae, who scored 20 points in 29 minutes off the bench. “He’s the leader of our team. He’s a two-time All-Star. When he’s not on the court, that’s 30 points we don’t have.”
Gary Payton II, who signed with Washington this week, started in Beal’s place and finished with 15 points and six steals in more than 30 minutes of action.
“We went over the game plan and everybody contributed tonight,” said Payton, the son of NBA legend Gary Payton. “We battled all the way to the end. We had great shots. They just didn’t go in.”
Washington (9-22) held a 92-91 lead in the fourth quarter, but was outscored 16-9 in the final eight minutes of the game.
Knicks forward Julius Randle appears to enjoy playing against Washington. He recorded a season-high 16 rebounds and scored 30 points along with six assists. In Monday’s loss, Randle scored a season-high 35 points, but only grabbed five rebounds.
Besides Randle, three other players scored in double figures that include Frank Ntilikina with 17 points off the bench.
New York (9-24) shot 45 percent from the floor, compared to Washington at 34 percent.
Wizards players said the shots taken were in the flow of the offense, but just didn’t go through the hoop.
Troy Brown scored nine points, but only shot for 4-of-18 from the floor.
Isaiah Thomas, playing his first game after serving a two-day suspension for confronting a fan Dec. 21 in Philadelphia, scored 20 points on 5-for-16 shooting.
“There are shots I usually make [and] shots I work on, they just happened to come up short,” Thomas said. “I’ve been off for the last four or five days due to the suspension. Those are shots that I should make, especially down the stretch for my time.”
Saturday’s game began a six-game homestand. The team will play seven of its next eight games in the District through Jan. 12.