Bradley Beal and Stephen Curry's scoring title race could feature rare comeback

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Beal and Curry's scoring race could feature rare comeback originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Bradley Beal has said on numerous occasions this season that he is more concerned with the Wizards winning games and making the playoffs than winning the scoring title. Lately, the numbers have backed that up, as from March 27 to May 3 they went 14-2 in games he played, despite his scoring average in those games dropping to 29.1, while Stephen Curry surged and passed him on the leaderboard.

Beal's scoring has dipped from Superman levels to Batman levels. Still good, but not invincible. If he really wanted to win the scoring title at all costs, he could have chucked up more shots, perhaps at the expense of his team's overall performance. But that isn't what he wants to do.

Beal, though, helped his cause on Wednesday night with 42 points against the Bucks, albeit in a loss. He entered the day just 0.6 points behind Curry, but that meant he needed to score 65 in order to pass him in one night.

He fell short of that, not surprisingly, but did cut into the lead a bit. With an average of 31.14 points for the season now, Beal is 0.39 behind Curry.

It isn't going to be easy to close the gap with only six games remaining and Curry on an absolute tear. Over his last 17 games, Curry is averaging 37.1 points. Beal has averaged 29.9 points over the same stretch.

If Beal doesn't catch up to Curry and pass him, he's going to end this season with an unfortunate distinction. He was in the scoring lead for 103 days, from Jan. 6 to April 18. Only one player in NBA history has led the league in scoring for longer without winning a scoring title at the end of that season.

That would be Allen Iverson, who was in the lead for 127 days back in the 1999-00 season before Shaquille O'Neal pushed ahead. Here is the list Beal could join, which includes some great company:

1999-00 - Allen Iverson - 127 days (Shaquille O'Neal won)

2020-21 - Bradley Beal - 103 days (Stephen Curry leads)

2011-12 - Kobe Bryant - 102 days (Kevin Durant won)

1951-52 - George Mikan - 97 days (Paul Arizin won)

2006-07 - Carmelo Anthony - 93 days (Kobe Bryant won)

stats courtesy of Sport Radar

Bryant lost the title to Durant in 2012 by just one-tenth of a point. That's about as crushing a loss as one can get in the scoring race.

Beal, though, doesn't seem to be paying it too much attention. He says he would like to win it, and it would help his career resume tremendously, especially when it comes to his Hall of Fame chances. But he sees it as secondary to the Wizards' team results.

"I have fun. I enjoy the game. I enjoy being who I am. I enjoy being here. I enjoy every moment and I just got back to the joy of the game," Beal said when asked what led to his 42 points on Wednesday.

Sure, but maybe there's a way he can have it all; get the scoring title and push the Wizards into the playoffs.