- The Washington Times
Wednesday, December 19, 2012

For a split second, Bradley Beal thought about staying in the locker room. After taking a hard foul and landing on his head and back during Tuesday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks, Beal left to be checked for a concussion.

Once Beal was cleared, he had a choice — stay in the locker room and nurse his ailing back or return to the game.

“I was debating it,” Beal said. “My first instinct was to pass the [concussion] test and go back out there and see how I feel. If I feel fine, then I’ll just keep playing.”

Beal returned less than three minutes later and finished the game. His shot was a little off, but the effort and attitude were there. His teammates took notice. Despite the Wizards’ struggles, Beal says everyone is still battling.

He wasn’t about to let a sore back slow him down.

“The locker room is still where it needs to be,” Beal said. “Nobody’s parting ways, nobody’s becoming selfish, nobody’s calling each other out or anything like that. We’re still together.”

After Washington fell to Atlanta 100-95 in overtime, Martell Webster joked around a bit with Beal, Cartier Martin and Earl Barron in the locker room. Talkative and jovial, Webster often can be relied on to lighten what could be a dismal mood as the losses mount.

With injuries landing the seven-year veteran in the starting lineup, Webster is taking on even more of a leadership role on and off the court. The Wizards are an NBA-worst 3-19, but Webster’s proud of the way the players are sticking together.

Asked if he believes the Wizards are reflective of their record, Webster vigorously shook his head.

“No. Not at all, not by any means,” Webster said. “The way we play, giving ourselves a fighting chance in all these games, that record should be flipped. But the reality is what it is. We just have to continue to grind and continue to work together and fight for one another.”

Having a close-knit group, Webster says, is important for a team reeling with injuries.

At present, Washington is without point guard John Wall (stress injury to left knee), forward Trevor Booker (right knee strain), guard Trevor Ariza (left calf strain), and guard A.J. Price (fractured right hand). Nene still is on a minutes limit and coming off the bench instead of starting because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot. The center has missed 11 games.

“We’re dropping like flies,” forward Chris Singleton said.

Asked how they have managed to stick together, Webster seemed almost surprised by the question.

“Because we’re resilient,” Webster said. “The fact that we believe that our record should be flipped is the reason why we continue to fight for each other, plain and simple.”

• Carla Peay can be reached at cpeay@washingtontimes.com.

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