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Wizards’ Bradley Beal will miss at least three games with a hamstring strain


The Washington Wizards will be without their franchise player for at least three games after Bradley Beal strained his right hamstring early in the first quarter of Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The guard had an MRI exam Monday and will be reevaluated in a week, the team announced. The severity of the strain was not made public, but no matter what Beal will miss a critical juncture of the season as the Wizards (11-13) try to pull themselves out of a skid in which they have lost six of seven. The Athletic first reported the news of Beal’s timeline.

Washington visits the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday and the Indiana Pacers on Friday before returning home to face the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday. Should Beal miss only a week — which is unlikely, given that he would have to recondition after missing that much playing time — he could be back on the court in time for a home game against the Brooklyn Nets next Monday. After that, the Wizards begin a six-game trip during which they will face Denver, both Los Angeles teams, Phoenix, Utah and Sacramento in a 10-day span.

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This is the second time this season that Beal, who is in the first year of a five-year, $251 million max contract, will miss at least a week: He was sidelined for a five-game stretch from Nov. 6 to Nov. 13 after testing positive for the coronavirus. He missed an additional game Nov. 23 with a thigh contusion.

If there is a silver lining for the Wizards, it’s that they are 4-2 without their star guard this season — and they beat capable teams to boot. Home victories against the Luka Doncic-led Dallas Mavericks and the thriving Utah Jazz stand out.

“I think we’ve shown, at times, we’ve been resilient enough to pull together and respond, play well,” Coach Wes Unseld Jr. said Sunday after the loss to the Lakers. “I know he’s missed some games here and there for a variety of reasons — sometimes that helps guys, that galvanizes the group, pulls them together. You dig down and find a way. But there’s no doubt, we don’t want to play without him for long.”

Those wins without Beal came when Washington was hitting its stride. Now the Wizards are struggling to open games with energy, their shooting percentage has dipped, and their defense is sagging under the pressure.

Beal is the third rotation player to hit the injury report for an extended period of time. Backup guard Delon Wright hasn’t played since Oct. 25 because of a hamstring strain of his own, and backup forward Rui Hachimura has not played since Nov. 18 because of a right ankle sprain and bone bruise. Unseld said Sunday that Wright is slated to begin playing two-on-two and three-on-three games for the first time since his injury during the Wizards’ upcoming Western Conference road trip.

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Beal’s absence will require more from every Wizards player but especially from Kyle Kuzma, who is averaging a career-high 20.6 points to go with 7.7 rebounds, and Kristaps Porzingis, who is averaging 21.8 points and 8.8 rebounds. Porzingis said Sunday the key to thriving without Beal is locking in on defense.

“It’s big shoes that we have to fill, the rest of the team. I think we had those moments when Brad was out with covid. We responded pretty well, played with high energy. We knew we had to pick up — everybody had to pick up,” Porzingis said. “And most importantly, I think we had to understand it’s not going to be on the offensive end as much. Offensively, we’ll find our situations, and of course we’re a different team without Brad offensively. But it’s defense that we have to really lock into to be able to compete without him.”

For Beal, the hamstring strain arrives near the end of an injury-laden calendar year. He shut down his 2021-22 season in early February after having wrist surgery to repair a torn scapholunate ligament.

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