March 3, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal (3) is helped off the court after injuring his left ankle against the Philadelphia 76ers in the fourth quarter at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 90-87. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Bradley Beal Downplays Ankle Injury, Could Play Tonight Against Minnesota

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As a Washington Wizards home crowd looked onto the court with just 2 minutes 8 seconds left to play of an eventual 90-87 victory against the Philadelphia 76ers Sunday, fans couldn’t help but fear the worst. Their rising star, rookie Bradley Beal, was down and wasn’t getting up with an apparent knee injury.

However, those fears were quickly put to rest after the game when x-rays came up negative and Beal was instead diagnosed with a left ankle sprain. This is already the second injury the rookie has had to face in his young career, the first coming in early February when Beal sat out five games with a sprained wrist.

It’s clear why Wizards fans are so concerned about their 3rd overall pick from last year’s draft, as recently, Beal has been on a tear. He’s averaged 20 points since returning to the starting lineup on Feb. 11, including a 28-point performance against the Milwaukee Bucks on that date and a career high 29 against the New York Knicks last Friday.  Though Washington is just 5-4 in that stretch, Beal has been instrumental in all five wins as a complement to star point guard John Wall and has definitively become the No. 1 scorer for Randy Wittman’s squad.  Especially in the absence of the recently departed Jordan Crawford, someone has needed to step up an otherwise mediocre offense and the St. Louis native has indeed done just that.

Luckily, it’s possible that Beal won’t miss any game action and will most likely play tonight in some fashion against the Minnesota Timberwolves despite sitting out yesterday’s practice. In the teams’ first matchup on Jan. 25, Beal put up 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting to go along with four blocks in a 114-101 Wizards win.

Washington currently holds a record of 19-39 and sits 11 games out of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a month of basketball still to play.

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