Though they held a ten point lead in the fourth quarter, the Bucks came away splitting the back-to-back series with the Washington Wizards, dropping round two 107-102. Though not as staggering as previous installments, Milwaukee struggled to finish an opponent off when they looked like they were in control, allowing the Wizards to close the game on a 21-6 run.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way for the Bucks with 22p/12r/7a, while Tony Snell hit six threes en route to 20 points. Greg Monroe and Jabari Parker added 16 and 14 points, respectively. Despite seven turnovers, John Wall finished with 18p/16a, and Otto Porter was hot all night, finishing with 32p/13r.
Milwaukee jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead on the heels of Wizards turnovers and empty possessions, including a routine Giannis breakaway dunk on the Bucks’ “first” offensive possession of the game. The Wizards had three turnovers before they converted their first field goal of the game, which came in a string of six straight points from Otto Porter, getting off to another hot start individually. The offense sputtered a bit with Giannis on the bench, but the Bucks still managed to shoot 54.5 percent in the first quarter while the Wizards shot 52 percent. Michael Beasley made his return to action in the first and promptly hit a long two, keeping the brand very strong.
The second quarter featured more Giannis, who finished the half with 16p/7r/4a, but the price of admission was satisfied by the showdown between Otto Porter and Tony Snell. Snell added three more triples in the second quarter to up his total to five for the half, the only source of his points (15) and the Bucks made threes (5). Otto Porter led the way for Washington with 18p/6r in the first half, with Markieff Morris the only other Wizard to reach double figures with 14. John Wall and Bradley Beal combined to score eight points in the first half, seven short of Tony Snell’s output. Does that matter? Not necessarily, but there won’t be many opportunities to type sentences like that, so just let me shoot my shot.
Giannis’ length is most often displayed on dunks or dribbles (or lack thereof), but in the first half, he put his wingspan to use on a pair of ridiculous offensive rebounds, which immediately turned into assists like this one.
This should be a violation. I don't know what violation but you can't have people doing this. pic.twitter.com/zyXYLdjAZq— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) December 27, 2016
That kind of ability to make plays (in addition to leading the team in scoring) helped keep the Bucks offense humming along while guys other than Tony Snell couldn’t get shots to fall, and it was key to giving the Bucks a 57-53 lead at the half.
The Wizards hit their first six shots of the second half, highlighted by two pretty open threes from Otto Porter. Naturally, Tony Snell saw it fit to respond, drilling his six three of the game and converting a layup in transition to give himself 20 before coming out to give himself a rest and limit the risk of combusting into flames and engulfing the Verizon Center.
John Wall and Bradley Beal improved on their output, scoring 15 points combined in the third quarter. Wall was especially effective, getting downhill seemingly at will and causing all kinds of problems on the Bucks defense. The Bucks offense was buoyed at times by Giannis free throws and jumpers from some unusual suspects. Despite the odd production and Wall’s increased impact, neither team was able to create much separation in an otherwise uneventful quarter. The Bucks still maintained a small lead heading into the fourth.
With Giannis catching a short rest to begin the quarter, Michael Beasley took matters into his own hands early, hitting three jumpers in short order to give the Bucks a 90-84 lead. Greg Monroe added a pair of awkward running layups and a nifty dime to a cutting Malcolm Brogdon, and suddenly the Bucks found themselves with their largest lead of the game at 96-86. Those warm vibes went away quickly though, as the Wizards hit two quick threes to cut the deficit to four. The Bucks offense clogged up in the half court save for a nifty post score from Monroe, and on the other end, John Wall and company started to execute better. A 13-2 run gave the Wizards the lead at 99-98 and two Beal free throws extended the lead to three with a little over two minutes left.
The Bucks cut the deficit to one when Giannis found a cutting Baseline Bari for the finish, but a gamble on the subsequent defensive position led to an open Otto Porter, and the Wizards found him. Porter hit the three to give the Wizards a four point lead with 49 seconds left. The Bucks cut the lead to two on a Giannis dunk, but couldn’t convert when they needed it, including a Tony Snell missed three down three with 10-ish seconds left in the quarter. Beal sank two free throws and the Wizards went home winners.
The Bucks head to Detroit to face the Pistons on Wednesday night. After that, in a wild turn of events, the Bucks will play a different team in their next game. That should be a nice change of pace.