The Wizards erased a 10-point deficit midway through the final quarter when Bradley Beal heated up and the matchup problem, Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks, went invisible thanks to the two-way brilliance of Otto Porter.
Three-pointers from Porter and Beal, followed by a jumper from Markieff Morris, put the Wizards on top with 3:08 left and they held on to win 107-102. They have a 2-1 series lead in a conference that’s muddled in the middle. Head-to-head tiebreakers are crucial when it comes to playoff seeding.
Porter (32 points, 13 rebounds) led Washington (14-16) followed by Beal (22 points), John Wall (18 points, 16 assists) and Morris (18 points). The Wizards avenged Friday's 27-point loss in Milwaukee.
Relative to his career-high 39 points the last time, Antetokounmpo (22 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists) was held in check. Sixteen of his points came in the first half. Tony Snell (20 points) made 6 of 11 three-pointers and had help from Greg Monroe (16 points, five rebounds) off the bench and Jabari Parker (14 points, six rebounds).
The Wizards trailed by double digits for the first time midway through the final quarter, but consecutive threes from Porter and Beal trimmed the deficit to 96-92 and set the stage for a frantic conclusion:
--Wall and Marcin Gortat began the fourth quarter in hopes of getting them off to a strong finish as the Wizards trailed 84-82 but they were disheveled on both ends. They had to call two timeouts by the 7:51 mark and trailed 96-86 as Milwaukee exploited matchups with Michael Beasley and Monroe in the post.
--Porter and Morris were given free range to roam. Henson helped out on the pick-and-roll and was challenging Beal wherever he went. That left spots open for the supporting cast to get open for high-percentage looks. Porter took 12 shots by halftime and had 18 points and six rebounds. Morris had 14 points on seven shots as he got to the foul line four times. The Wizards gave up Snell who had open threes for 15 points as he made 5 of 6. They still couldn’t limit Antetokounmpo, however, as he had 16 points on nine shots, went to the foul line five times and had seven rebounds to go with four assists.
--With Henson pulling away so often from the rim, Gortat wasn’t able to have much impact. He only had four points and only took five shots. The Wizards should’ve had a significant edge in rebounding and second-chance points with such sacrifices being made by Milwaukee but trailed 26-20 in paint points and 21-19 on the boards.By the end, however, they were even in rebounding (40-40), flipped the fast-break points from 27-8 disadvantage Friday to a modest 13-8 edge and doubled up on made three-pointers (12-6).
--Oubre’s defense was vital if the Wizards had any hope in slowing down Antetokounmpo. Before the game, Scott Brooks said his second-year forward hadn’t played well since sustaining a concussion four games ago in a game vs. the Pistons. Oubre had five points and three assists in 10 minutes played. He had a strip of Snell in the open court that led to his own dunk, but the Bucks still shot 48.8% in the first half. That’s still much better than 66.7% in the first half of Friday’s game, but Porter proved to be the more impactful. Antetokounmpo only attempted one shot during seven minutes of play in the fourth and that was a dunk with 22.8 seconds left.
--Mirza Teletovic lit up the Wizards in their first meeting earlier this month, a 110-105 loss for Milwaukee. He had 25 points in just 26 minutes off the bench as he made 5 of 6 threes. Teletovic didn’t play in this one because of a concussion. Snell filled that void with the shooting that Malcolm Brogdon (six points) and Michael Beasley (eight points) couldn’t for any prolonged stretch off the bench. Snell was the only player for Milwaukee to make threes. Everyone else was 0-for-10.
--Andrew Nicholson didn’t play after being on the court for eight minutes in the last game. Neither did Sheldon McClellan, who wasn’t good defensively in the last meeting. Daniel Ochefu was expected to play at least a small role given the Bucks’ size and the rookie’s recent time on the floor, but that didn’t come. Jason Smith played little (six minutes) after he had a terrible time trying to match up previously with Monroe in the low post.