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Bradley Beal, Wizards upend Nets in fourth quarter

Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal dribbles next to

Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal dribbles next to Nets forward Joe Harris during the first half of an NBA basketball game on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020. Credit: AP/Nick Wass

WASHINGTON — One night after a superhuman 54-point performance, Nets star Kyrie Irving showed his mortality with a season-low 11-point night in which he suffered a sprained right knee with the Nets leading by three midway through the fourth quarter.

On Saturday night, the superstar-in-residence was the Wizards’ Bradley Beal, whose 15 fourth-quarter points led them to a 113-107 victory over the Nets at Capital One Arena.

The Nets were holding a 101-98 lead with 5:29 left when Irving and Beal collided and fell to the court in a heap. Wearing a brace on his right knee after the game and hobbling stiff-legged through the locker room, Irving stopped to meet with reporters and describe what happened.

“What a week, what a week,” Irving said. “I’m OK, though. I’m just going to get an MRI. X-rays were negative. Just go home and see what’s going on.

“I’ve done some pretty decent things to my knee in the past. I just wanted to make sure my ACL, my MCL, my PCL, that our medical staff did their check. The most important thing is just my ACL, make sure it was fine. It was just a weird, weird, weird fall. I just felt a lot of stretching and tension afterward. Just a bad fall.”

Irving stayed in the game to take the jump ball in case he could return, but the Nets immediately fouled so Irving could come out and head to the locker room.

After going 3-1 in their previous four games and getting Irving’s virtuoso performance against the Bulls on Friday at Barclays Center, where he shot 19-for-23 on his way to 54 points, it seemed as if the Nets and Irving might be on the verge of turning their season around.

Now this monkey wrench hits them after Irving previously missed 28 games this season. “No one’s going to feel bad for us,” Irving said. “It’s the NBA. Things like this happen, and we’ve just got to pick each other up like we always do. It’s just about us in the locker room as we continue to work at these goals that we have.”

Once again, the Nets were in position to win, but after a 12-for-24 performance from three-point range in the first half, they were a miserable 4-for-23 in the second half.

The fourth quarter started well when Spencer Dinwiddie scored the first 10 points in a 12-6 surge that pushed the Nets’ lead to 96-87 with 8:49 left. But Beal scored nine points in an 11-2 Wizards run to tie the score at 101 on his three-point play with 5:17 remaining.

The Wizards pushed a nose in front at 107-106 when Beal made the first of two foul shots at 2:13, missed the second but then added a layup at the 1:36 mark for a 109-106 lead.

Beal, who averaged 37.3 points in his previous six games, topped the Wizards (17-31) with 34 points, and Thomas Bryant added 17, plus 10 rebounds. Dinwiddie led the Nets (21-27) with 26 points, and Joe Harris added 22, including 6-for-11 three-point shooting.

Facing the prospect of more lineup juggling after Irving’s latest injury, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said: “I always say we pay 17 guys on the roster. A guy goes down, that’s our job. You have to step up to the level of that player you’re replacing or better. That’s our goal. We have sufficient talent in there and good guys and good players. Guys will have to step up.”

Asked what’s next, Irving shrugged and said: “Honestly, I’m just trying to evaluate what’s the best-case scenario for [Sunday] morning. I’m just trying to get home, get an MRI and see where I can go from there.”

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