The Washington Wizards four game win streak came to a halt last night against the Milwaukee Bucks, falling 110-103. Giannis Antetokounmpo caused trouble for the Wizards all game, including knocking down a few buckets down the stretch. Finishing the game with 34 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists. He got help in the form of Eric Bledsoe who scored 10 points in the second half, including a late three pointer over Marieff Morris that was the dagger. Khris Middleton also did most of his damage in the second half, scoring 11 of his 20 points. Bradley Beal led the Wizards with 20 points, but he didn’t shoot it as well as he has of late. Wall had 16 points and 16 assist, but a couple of his 6 turnovers came late and proved to be costly. Markieff Morris continued his streak of games with 10 rebounds, adding 14 points as well. Marcin Gortat had an efficient 17 points, but Washington came undone late in the contest.
— Chris Miller 🎥🎙🏀 (@cmillsnbcs) January 7, 2018
The pivotal moment may have been in the fourth quarter. Trailing by two points, Wall got a rebound after a missed dunk by Malcolm Brogdon, he pushed the ball and hit Beal on the left wing. Brad put the ball on the floor and chose to beat Matthew Dellavedova off the bounce, Dellavedova said he tried to “wrap” Beal up. In live action, it looked like he took Beal down by the neck. You can be the judge (video below), but the officials ruled it a Flagrant 2 and ejected Dellevedova.
— J. Michael (@ThisIsJMichael) January 7, 2018
That meant that Washington would get two free throws and the ball, but Beal missed both attempts from the charity stripe and Washington turned the ball over on the ensuing offensive possession. From a Milwaukee standpoint, things went swimmingly well. The takedown on Beal seemed to slow him down and at least get him out of rhythm after he found it in the third. A missed opportunity for Washington, but they’d get another chance to regain control of the game a few minutes later. After Giannis had put several Wizards front court players in foul trouble, he picked up his fifth foul with 6:18 on the offensive end when he tried to free himself from Gortat.
In those four minutes, Bledsoe and Middleton kept pace with Washington offensively. The ball movement from earlier in the game was gone for the Wizards and the Bucks made enough stops in that span. Kelly Oubre (14 points) put Washington ahead with 4:44 left in the game, Wall put pressure on the Bucks defense a couple of possessions later, only to hit Morris who was the trailer for a huge dunk. Bledsoe cuts into the deficit after drawing a foul, Anttokounmpo returns with 2:56 seconds left and immediately put the Bucks ahead by three after a bad Wizards possession. Getting a layup in transition, followed by a tough fade-away in the post. Beal would head to the line and cut the deficit to one, but Bledsoe hit that huge three pointer to extend his team’s lead. Giannis foils Washington’s next offensive possession, Bledsoe splits a pair at the line to push Milwaukee’s lead to four. Washington got a quick basket off a drive from Beal with 59 seconds left, but Giannis would respond with a contested jumper over Oubre’s outstretched hand to close the door on Washington.
Both teams were on the back half of a back to back, yet the Wizards came out on fire. using a 12-2 run to get things started. Their rotations on defense were crisp and they were moving the ball well on the offensive end. Wall came out and really set the table for his teammates, getting everyone involved as Milwaukee seemed intent on slowing Beal. John made them pay, finishing with 10 points and 6 assists in the opening period. Morris also got off to a good start, his activity on both ends really helped his team. The Bucks struggled to find the mark from beyond the arc, shooting just 14% from distance. They stayed in striking distance by getting stops. Anttokounmpo led the way with 7 points and 3 rebounds, Washington led 32-24 heading into the second quarter.
The Greek Freak took matters into his own hands in the sceond quarter, knowing he causes mismatch issues, he went into the post. Instead of looking for his shot on the low block, he chose to facilitate and it paid off. The attention he garnered from the Wizards opened little creases in their defense. With his height he had no problem seeing over the top of the defense and made Washington pay. It wasn’t in the form of direct assists, hockey assists still hurt. The Bucks went on to outscore Washington 29-21 in the period. They played better defense, holding Washington to 44% from the 62% they shot in the first quarter.
The beautiful ball movement that the Wizards used to build their 11 point lead had come to a halt, that had a direct correlation to Milwaukee getting back into the game. As the ball stopped moving, the Bucks defense used their exceptional length to clog up both passing and driving lanes. Washington was playing into their hands both literally and physically, Milwaukee also beat the home team on the glass (16-7). After a scoreless first period, Beal scored 6 points in the second, but it came at a cost. He was working extra hard and with the ball not moving as much, those long arms of the Bucks were routinely in the way. The visitors used a strong second quarter to tie things up at 53 heading into the half.
Giannis had 13 and Bledsoe had 11 to lead Milwaukee, while Gortat and Wall had 11 and 10 respectively for Washington.
Anetokounmpo took his facilitator hat off to start the third, scoring 13 points in the period. Most of his damage was done by getting to the foul line, he almost put the entire Washington front court on the bench with foul trouble. As stated earlier in the game, the officials really let them play and it was a very physical period. Wall got going late in the quarter, trying to give Washington a lead heading into the fourth. He scored on a midrange jumper, then an acrobatic layup off a nice crossover. Giannis would respond with a floater, Wall then found Meeks for a three. Again, Antetokonmpo drew a foul on a lob attempt off an inbound pass with literally no time left. The free throws would cut Milwaukee’s deficit to just three. Waking up in the quarter was Beal, who stared to adjust to he way the Bucks were defending him. Scoring 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting, helping the Wizards to a three point lead heading into the fourth.