The defense that was absent for most of the season -- blamed on the Wizards playing at too fast of a pace on offense -- looks more like the top-10 scoring unit that they've had the last three seasons. The Milwaukee Bucks were plastered 115-86, as their point guard Michael Carter-Williams (0 assists) and best post player, Greg Monroe (four points), couldn't do anything right.
It was the second win in a row for the Wizards (5-4), who held an opponent to less than 100 points in as many games after giving up 118, 114 and 125 in consecutive losses last week.
"I think probably so. From start to finish," said Wizards coach Randy Wittman when asked if this was his team's best performance of the season, even better than their 102-99 win vs. the San Antonio Spurs. "After the first quarter I think we got settled in with what we wanted to do from a defensive standpoint. We did a nice job of holding them to 57 (points) in the last three quarters. Had a lot of deflections. We were active. This is a top 10 offensive rebounding team. When we defensive rebound like that it allows us to play with better pace. Our pace was going to be an important factor. They don't want to play at a high pace and we do."
The stats tell the story. Milwaukee was held to just six offensive rebounds, were outrebounded 42-34 overall, 18-2 in transition, 13-7 on second-chance points, 38-30 in the paint and had seven more turnovers with 19.
The backcourt of John Wall and Garrett Temple, filling in for an injured Bradley Beal, set the tone with their ball pressure on Carter-Williams and Jerryd Bayless. They had trouble getting into their offensive sets and Monroe didn't have space in the low post.
Marcin Gortat took it away from him and the perimeter players made Monroe play at a pace much faster than he prefers.
"We're not going to let post players anymore just get four or five dribbles," said Jared Dudley, who played 23 minutes off the bench because the Bucks started Giannis Antetokounmpo at power forward. "When they start dribbling and their backs are turned, we're going to come and double them. We can use our athleticism and speed defensively so when those shots come up, long rebounds start to hit and we can go out in flow."
The easy baskets came. The Wizards shot 53% from the field (37 of 70) and tied their season high with 12 made three-pointers.
"Tried to get some fast-break points because they got a tough half-court defense," Temple said. "We really stymied them on the offensive end which led to the (29)-point victory."