Bradley Beal didn’t get the memo about how to get to 51 points the easy way in today’s NBA. If you can get hot from deep or find a sympathetic ref, you can pile up some points pretty quickly. Neither of those things happened for Beal en-route to a career-high 51 points against Portland on Tuesday.
Yes, he made some outside shots, going 5 of 12 from the field, but that isn’t too uncommon for a guy like him. He’s made at least 5 threes in three other games this season. It’s not like he was camped out around the three-point arc waiting for open shots. He also wasn’t getting a soft whistle from the refs. He only took five free throws against the Blazers, making four of them.
He didn’t even get set up all that well by his teammates. Only 8 of his 21 makes from the field were assisted. He had to create the other 13 through a mix of great separation moves and a persistence to get into the paint to create open looks.
His shot chart looked like a blogger’s worst nightmare, other than all the green dots, but it worked. At a certain point, it doesn’t really matter where you’re shooting from if you’re making almost 60 percent of your shots.
Beal’s unusual path to 51 points sets him apart from a lot of other 50+ point games in recent memory. According to Basketball-Reference, he’s the first player since Chris Webber in 2001 to get to 50 points without making at least six threes or five free throws, and he’s the first guard to do it since Michael Jordan in 1988.