Huge Comeback Falls Short
Milwaukee 107, Washington 114
MILWAUKEE (AP) Bradley Beal scored 12 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter, helping the Washington Wizards avoid blowing a 28-point lead and beat the Milwaukee Bucks 114-107 on Saturday night.
Washington opened a 71-43 lead in the second quarter, but the Bucks cut the deficit to 104-101 on a pair of free throws by Ersan Ilyasova with 2:13 to go.
Beal then scored on a driving layup and hit a baseline 3-pointer to give the Wizards a 109-101 lead with 2:01 left. Washington won for the eighth time in nine games.
John Wall, Washington's leading scorer at 19.9 points per game, was held to nine points and missed 10 of 14 shots. Trevor Ariza scored 17 of his 26 points in the first quarter.
Brandon Knight scored 25 points for Milwaukee (12-50), the first NBA team to lose 50 games this season. The Bucks have lost seven of nine games.
While Wall had an off-night shooting, he had 13 assists and sparked a Washington run midway through the fourth quarter. He ripped the ball away from John Henson, sprinted up court and found an open Ariza, who hit a 3-pointer to start a 7-2 run that gave the Wizards a 102-93 lead with 4:58 to go.
Milwaukee then used an 8-2 run to pull within three points on Ilyasova's two free throws with 2:13 left.
Washington made 29 of 43 shots in the first half and its 71-43 lead on Beal's 3-pointer with 2:24 left in the second quarter. The Wizards led 75-53 at halftime, a season high in points for the first half.
Milwaukee scored the first 12 points of the third quarter to pull within 75-65, but Ariza scored on a driving layup with 4:57 left to snap the Wizards' scoring drought.
Washington scored the final four points of the first quarter and then outscored Milwaukee 30-12 to open the second quarter, opening a 66-39 lead on Ariza's 3-pointer with 4:14 to go in the half.
But the Wizards missed their first nine shots of the second half to let Milwaukee back into the game.
Ilyasova returned from a one-game suspension for punching Sacramento's Reggie Evans on Wednesday night and scored 13 points in 27 minutes. His teammate, O.J. Mayo, missed the game after being given a one-game suspension for punching New Orleans' Greg Stiemsma on Friday night.
Ariza made six of eight shots in the first quarter to score 17 points and give Washington a 36-27 lead. Trevor Booker made one of two free throws to give the Wizards the lead for good, 16-15, with 5:33 left in the first quarter.
The game marked the return to Milwaukee of forward Drew Gooden, who signed a second 10-day contract with the Wizards on Saturday. Gooden, who signed a five-year, $34 million contract with the Bucks in 2010 but was released on an amnesty provision before this season, scored 13 points in 16 minutes off the bench.
Notes: Ariza went to the court hard with 6:16 left in the first quarter. He stayed on the ground for about a minute before rising and walking to the bench. . The Wizards previous first-half high was 74 points against Philadelphia on March 1. . The Wizards have won 14 of their last 20 road games.
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- With the win tonight the Wizards improved to 2-1 against the Bucks this season, with all three games being won by the visiting team. Milwaukee and Washington will meet for the final time in D.C. on April 12.
- The Wizards have now won eight of their last nine games and sit just one game behind Chicago for the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Washington now has a two-game cushion on Brooklyn for the fifth seed.
- Brandon Knight (25 points) recorded his 21st 20-point game of the season, surpassing his previous career high of 20 such games set last season in Detroit. Knight also extended his career-best streak to 17 consecutive outings scoring in double figures.
- Trevor Ariza entered the game averaging 15.0 points per contest, and surpassed that output in the first quarter alone (17 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc). Ariza finished with 28 points – his 16th 20-point outing this season.
- Former Buck Drew Gooden finished with 13 points tonight. It’s his most in a game since scoring 16 for the Bucks on April 21, 2012, vs. New Jersey.
- Washington shot 10-for-17 (.588) from beyond the arc in the first half tonight. It’s the second time this season the Wizards have hit 10+ threes in a half (10-of-18 in the second half on 2/12 at Houston). It’s the most threes the Bucks have allowed in a half this season (previously eight on five occasions).
- Washington’s 75 points in the first half tonight were both a Wizards’ season high (previously 74, 3/1 at PHI, 1st half) and the high by a Bucks opponent (previously 67, 1/31 at ORL, 1st half) for any half this season.
- Washington’s 10 points in the third quarter, however, set a new low for scoring in any quarter by a Milwaukee opponent this season.
- Milwaukee opened the third quarter on a 12-0 run, holding Washington scoreless for the first 7:03 of the frame. After trailing by as many as 28, the Bucks pulled within three late in the fourth quarter but could get no closer.
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