When the Washington Wizards wanted to implement a more up-tempo offense in the offseason to combine with their already stifling defense, tonight’s result was exactly what they were looking to accomplish. The Wizards would go on and blowout the Milwaukee Bucks 115-86 with great defense and efficient offense.
John Wall led the way as he tied a team-high with 19 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field, while recording nine assists and six rebounds. Otto Porter Jr. added 19 points, four assists and three steals. Washington had a season-high six players in double figure scoring.
Milwaukee had five players in double figure scoring. Khris Middleton led the team with 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Greg Monroe struggled all night as the two combined to shoot 4-of-19 from the field for 13 points, while committing seven of the team’s 19 turnovers.
With Bradley Beal still out with a shoulder injury, the supporting cast would need to step up in his absence. They did just that tonight and the unsung hero for Washington was Jared Dudley. This was by far his best game in a Wizards uniform as he finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and a team-best +34 while he was on the court.
This was a close affair throughout the first quarter, but Washington started to clamp down defensively in the second quarter as they outscored the Bucks 37-17 in the quarter, spearheaded by an 18-4 run. Washington led 64-46 at halftime.
Milwaukee would come out in the third quarter and close the gap, cutting the Wizards lead to six with 5:50 left in the quarter. However, Washington would close the third with a 13-0 run, seemingly putting the game out of reach as they led 85-66 heading into the final quarter.
“It’s team defense. We’re going to make mistakes, it’s just covering for each other,” Otto Porter said postgame.
Despite scoring 115 points, shooting 52.9 percent from the field and knocking down 12 three-pointers, the reason Washington was able to capture their first double-digit victory of the season was with their defense. The Wizards held Milwaukee to just 43.1 percent shooting and forced 19 turnovers that led to 27 points. Washington kept the Bucks out of the paint and allowed only two fast break points, the two areas that are Milwaukee’s strengths.
The Wizards already have a 2-0 series lead on the Milwaukee Bucks, something that could be valuable towards the end of the season when it comes to playoff seeding.
It took some much needed days off for the Wizards to find their identity. Head coach Randy Wittman has emphasized defense and that’s what this team worked on as they had several days of hard nosed practices. With a more simplified approach on both ends of the floor, the Wizards are starting to come together as a team and are starting to prove what they are capable of doing for the rest of the season.
Washington will head on the road and face the Detroit Pistons Saturday night at 7:30 PM EST. Milwaukee will continue their road trip as they face the Cleveland Cavaliers Thursday night at 8:00 PM EST.