Warriors brace for challenge from Wizards, Beal (Oct 27, 2017)

OAKLAND, Calif. — One of the league’s top scorers goes head-to-head with one of the league’s top defenders Friday night when Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards visit Klay Thompson and the Golden State Warriors.

Beal gave Thompson fits last season by averaging 22.5 points, including a 25-point effort in Washington’s 112-108 home victory over the Warriors in February.

It was one of only five games the Warriors lost against Eastern Conference competition in the regular season last year.

Golden State extracted a measure of revenge with a 139-115 trouncing in April, although Beal managed to score 20 that night.

Stephen Curry poured in 42 points and Thompson added 23 in the April win, Golden State’s third straight over the Wizards in Oakland by an average of 21 points.

The Wizards have split two games to open a four-stop Western swing. They lost 102-99 in overtime to the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night after tipping off the trip with a victory at Denver.

They head home after a Sunday visit to Sacramento.

The Wizards are opening the season without forward Markieff Morris, who is expected to miss two months following surgery for a sports hernia.

Kelly Oubre Jr., who averaged only 6.3 points as mostly a backup last season, has replaced Morris and is averaging 10.3 points.

A big surprise in Washington’s 3-1 start has been the play of newcomer Jodie Meeks, the club’s leading scorer off the bench (11 points) in the loss to the Lakers.

Coming off two injury-plagued years in which he played a total of only 39 games for the Detroit Pistons and the Orlando Magic, the free agent pick-up in the offseason already has two double-figure scoring games and nine points in a third.

The Wizards also bolstered their bench this season with the additions of forward Mike Scott and guard Tim Frazier.

On Wednesday, Washington saw the Lakers tie the game on a tip-in with 0.7 seconds left before Los Angeles prevailed in overtime.

“If we don’t pick up defensively on the road, we won’t win any games,” Wizards guard John Wall said before the trip. “We got to figure out a way to get back to playing defense consistently.”

That is especially true against the Warriors, whose 139-point explosion against Washington last season was its fourth-highest total of the season.

What the Warriors are doing better than anything else on offense these days is shooting free throws, They made 19 of 22 on Wednesday against Toronto to improve their season success rate to 85.3 percent, third best in the league.

Curry has been the leader at the line. He went 8-for-8 against the Raptors, making him 47-for-47 for the season.

Counting the final two he made last season, Curry has a streak of 49 straight. His personal-best run is 52, set in 2015.

The franchise record of 60 straight was set by Rick Barry in 1976.

“Been trying to finish at the rim; had people close out real hard on 3-point attempts,” Curry said of his unusually high free-throw total for having played only five games. “Rest of it’s just being in the right place at the right time and trying to put pressure on the defense.”

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