Giannis Antetokounmpo drives to the hoop against Washington’s Chris Singleton.
Despite blowing a double-digit lead in the second half, the Bucks held off Washington and won their second game in three tries, improving to… 4-15 on the season.
Milwaukee avoided a sluggish start, jumping out to a 34-30 first quarter lead that ballooned to 56-43 at halftime thanks to a 15-1 run in the second quarter. However, John Wall led a slow, but steady Washington comeback effort, slowly chipping away at the deficit. Trevor Ariza’s three-pointer at the end of the third quarter trimmed the Milwaukee lead to just 78-74 heading into the final period.
Four minute into the fourth, a thunderous Trevor Booker dunk gave Washington an 85-84 lead. The teams traded baskets for much of the fourth until Brandon Knight drilled a tough three-pointer with 15.1 seconds left to knot the game at 102. Washington was unable to score on its final possession of regulation.
Milwaukee outscored Washington 7-3 in the overtime period en route to a 109-105 victory. The Wizards went 0-6 from the field in overtime.
Milwaukee was led by a trio of big performances from Khris Middleton, Brandon Knight and John Henson. Middleton scored 20 of his season-high 29 in the first half and contributed seven rebounds, two steals and two assists in 47 minutes. Knight finished with a well-rounded 20 points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals, while Henson went for 19 points and a season-high 17 rebounds in 45 minutes (also a season-high). O.J. Mayo also chipped in 17 points for Milwaukee, and Ersan Ilyasova added seven points in 28 minutes.
Wall led Washington with 30 points (9-23 FG), 12 of which came at the free throw line. He also added eight assists, three rebounds, two steals and three blocks but accounted for five turnovers, including a costly one in overtime. Ariza chipped in 22 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, four steals and two blocks while Nene and Marcin Gortat combined for 24 points on 9-of-15 shooting.
Washington lost Martell Webster to an ankle injury in the second quarter, but his replacements, Otto Porter and Chris Singleton, shot a combined 1-of-13 in 47 cumulative minutes. It was Porter’s first game of the season – and his career – as he’s been dealing with a hip injury since July.
Getting to the line: Washington owned a 41-26 advantage in free throws attempted thanks in large part to Wall’s relentless attacking. He finished 12-of-13 from the line – the fourth time in his last seven games he’s reached double-digit free throw attempts.
Rebounding edge: Rebounding issues have plagued Milwaukee all season, but the Bucks finished with a slight 48-46 rebounding edge. Washington lacks a “true” center – Gortat and Nene are both undersized – and the Bucks were able to capitalize on the athleticism of Henson. Nonetheless, Milwaukee remains the league’s worst rebounding team with a -5.5 overall differential.
Points in the paint: The Bucks outscored Washington in the paint 52-34. For those keeping track at home, that’s nearly 16 points above Milwaukee’s season average of 36.2 (good for 27th in the league – Washington ranks 25th).
Henson emerges: Expectations were high for Henson entering the season, but even with Larry Sanders sidelined, he wasn’t given extensive playing time. Prior to Friday, Henson played more than 30 minutes just twice. In 45 minutes against Washington, Henson enjoyed easily his best performance of the season and grabbed double-digit rebounds for just the second time. We saw it in flashes last year; it’s usually pretty amazing what the second-year forward can do when provided the opportunity.
Obligatory Giannis watch: Caron Butler sat out his fifth straight game with knee soreness, and Giannis was once again the beneficiary. The rookie played 20 points, scoring six points (3-6 FG) and pulling down four rebounds. He’s played at least 13 minutes in Milwaukee’s last five games, but Butler’s impending return threatens his spot in the rotation. It’s worth noting that Antetokounmpo missed what would have been a highlight-reel alley-oop from Luke Ridnour, but we’ll let that slide. It’s Giannis, afterall.
Block party: Wall led all players with three blocks. Each were pretty spectacular, but this one on Nate Wolters to close out the third quarter was downright vicious.
Here are the full highlights from Friday’s action: