WASHINGTON: Phoenix guard Bradley Beal scored a game-high 43 points Sunday (Jan. 5) against his former NBA club, hitting 16 of 21 shots in a 140-112 triumph in Washington.
The 30-year-old American made four of five 3-pointers and all seven of his free throws while contributing six assists, two steals and two blocked shots.
“Spectacular,” Suns coach Frank Vogel said. “He’s one of the best players in the world. That’s why we were delighted to have him in Phoenix.
“He played great defense. He shared the basketball. It’s about being aggressive and reading the defense. He did a great job with that.”
Beal, the third overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, spent 11 seasons with the Wizards, averaging a perennial doormat of 22.1 points per game, reaching the playoffs just once during his tenure with Washington.
The Wizards released a video tribute to Beal during his first visit since his trade last June while fans gave him a standing ovation.
“Tonight was awesome,” Beal said. “It was a good separation. No hard feelings.”
Kevin Durant added 18 points for the Suns, who improved to 29-21 while dropping the Wizards to 9-40.
Meanwhile, Boston’s Jayson Tatum scored 34 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out seven assists to lead the NBA-leading Celtics past Memphis 131-91.
Latvian forward Kristaps Porzingis added 26 points for the Celtics, who improved to 38-12.
Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Los Angeles Clippers to a 103-95 victory at Miami – the Clippers’ 25th triumph in 30 games to reach 33-15.
James Harden added 21 points and 11 assists and Paul George had 15 points for the Clippers, while Jimmy Butler led the Heat with 21 points.
Finland’s Lauri Markkanen scored 21 points to lead seven Utah players in double figures as the Jazz beat Milwaukee 123-108.
Greek star Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 33 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds while Bobby Portis added 27 points for Milwaukee, which fell five games behind East leader Boston.
Defending NBA champion Denver, led by 29 points from Nikola Jokic, dispatched visiting Portland 112-103, pulling the Nuggets to within a half-game of the West co-leaders.
Josh Giddey scored 24 points to lead five Oklahoma City players with 20 or more points as the host Thunder outlasted Toronto 135-127.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 23 points, 14 assists and nine rebounds while Luguentz Dort and Chet Holmgren each added 22 points for the Thunder, who tied Minnesota atop the Western Conference at 35-15.
FINCH IS AN ALL-STAR COACH
Minnesota’s Chris Finch won the Western Conference All-Star head coaching job when the Timberwolves beat Houston 111-90 to earn the conference’s best record on Sunday, including tiebreakers.
It’s his first time as an All-Star head coach and the first for a Minnesota coach since Flip Saunders in 2004.
Anthony Edwards led the T-Wolves with 32 points while Frenchman Rudy Gobert contributed with 17 points and a game-high 13 rebounds.
Germany’s Franz Wagner scored 38 points on 17-of-25 shooting, four of seven from 3-point range, to lead the Orlando Magic to a 111-99 victory in Detroit.
Charlotte rookie Brandon Miller scored a season-high 35 points, but it was a losing cause as the visiting Indiana Pacers beat the Hornets 115-99.
Cameroonian forward Pascal Siakam had 25 points, eight rebounds and nine assists to spark the Pacers while Aaron Nesmith added 22 points.