In his conversation with Yahoo Sports' LaJethro Jenkins, Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal was more measured than his Twitter rant responding to Golden State Warriors veteran Kent Bazemore's comments.
"Keep it hoops," Beal told Yahoo Sports when asked to elaborate on his takedown of Bazemore.
For the uninitiated, Bazemore took an unnecessary shot at Beal's recent injury during his pregame media availability on Monday. Beal and Golden State star Stephen Curry are currently neck and neck in the race for the scoring title. While lauding his Warriors teammate's performance over the weekend, Bazemore said, "49 points in 29 minutes, that's unreal, and we've got guys hurting hamstrings trying to keep up."
Beal sat out Monday's loss to the Atlanta Hawks with a left hamstring strain and is expected to miss Wednesday's rematch. He is averaging 31.4 points per game with three games remaining on Washington's schedule. Curry's 36 points on Monday raised his average to 31.9 points entering his final three games.
Keep in mind, Bazemore is averaging seven points per game for the Warriors. His career high is 32 points, roughly the equivalent of Beal's average this season. Beal had plenty of material to work with, lambasting Bazemore on Twitter during Golden State's game on Monday night. A sampling of Beal's onslaught:
Asked about Beal's diatribe following his own 19-point outing against the Utah Jazz, Bazemore said, via the San Francisco Chronicle's Rusty Simmons:
"I guess you can’t joke anymore, but man, whatever. I feel like I’m pretty light-hearted guy, and I stay in my own lane. I don’t say things and ruffle feathers, but if you want to know where my loyalty is: It’s to SC30 (Stephen Curry). … It kind of got out of hand. I didn’t check my phone all day until after the game, so it’s kind of blowing up, but I don’t get involved in that crap."
Bazemore did not find it necessary to apologize to Beal.
“It’ll pass," Bazemore added. "Tomorrow I’ll probably wake up, and everything will be the same."
Indeed. With a night to sleep on the exchange, Beal avoided unleashing the verbal edition of a clown GIF.
"For me, it was nothing against Steph," Beal told Yahoo Sports. "I'm gonna just nip that now. I'm not sitting here debating about whose side to choose. Obviously, you should be on your teammate's side, but just keep it that. Keep it hoops. Don't bring my injury into it or me into it. I have my goals, and why I go hoop and what I'm focused on are totally different. I could care less about people saying, 'Oh, it's a close race.'
"I'm here to hoop. Everybody knows I can score. I've been doing this for the last couple years, so it's nothing new. I'm not chasing after nothing. So, for me, I just want to keep it that. Just keep it hoops. Stay over there. I didn't say anything. I didn't go out of my way to do anything, so that's all my point was."
If he sits on Wednesday, as expected, Beal would need 95 points over the final two games to match Curry's current average of 31.9 points per game. That number could rise or fall with Curry's production over the next week. Both the Wizards and Warriors are still battling for seeding in the NBA's play-in tournament.
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