The Washington Wizards lost to the Milwaukee Bucks 104-95 on Monday afternoon, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Here's analysis of what went down...
Another Good One: The Wizards and Bucks have proven over the past several weeks to be quite the even match. Both teams are young, fast and boast burgeoning star power.
But on Monday afternoon, the Bucks again got the best of the Wizards for the second time in nine days thanks to some key mistakes by Washington and some tough shots hit by Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Antetokounmpo was again a major problem for the Wizards. He didn't shoot well in the first half, but made adjustments and the Wizards had no answers in the second half. He compiled an absurd line of 27 points, a career-high 20 rebounds, six assists and two blocks. Point guard Eric Bledsoe also hurt the Wizards with 23 points, 19 of which came in the second half.
The Wizards (25-19) had their two-game winning streak snapped, but have still won six of their last night overall. Now they head out on a lengthy road trip.
Too Many Turnovers: The Wizards may have been able to build a significant first half lead if it wasn't for their inability to protect the ball. They had 17 turnovers in the first half alone, more than they had allowed in 13 of their previous 14 games.
Wall has had trouble with turnovers lately with eight turnovers in two of his previous four games, but it wasn't his problem early on, though he did have four in the game. Bradley Beal struggled with seven turnovers, one off his career-high.
The Wizards cleaned it up a bit in the second half. They had four turnovers in the third quarter and three in the fourth to total a season-high 24 for the game. The Bucks scored 25 points off those mistakes and it was a huge reason Washington lost.
Giveaways have been an issue for the Wizards in recent games. They had 23 against the Jazz last week.
Wall Went Off: On the final day of All-Star voting, Wall made a strong final case for himself with one of his best games of the 2017-18 season so far. Wall caught fire early with 16 points in the first quarter and 22 by halftime.
Wall finished with 27 and got his points in all sorts of ways, including by going 12-for-13 from the free throw line. That was in addition to his usual mix of hard-charging layups and crafty midrange jumpers. He also had nine assists, four rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
Wall has now scored at least 20-plus points in seven of his last eight games. It's safe to say he's rounding into midseason form. Wall has been making an impact for the Wizards for weeks, as they are 11-6 since he returned from injury, but now we are seeing him at his best as a scorer. When he's at peak form, he's unstoppable.
This play was a good example of just how good Wall has been playing lately. The degree of difficulty was high:
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Wall's five points in the second half were largely due to the Bucks throwing consistent double teams at him. They also did a good job with help defense to stop him from getting to the rim at will.
Beal vs. Brogdon: A big reason why Beal racked up those giveaways is that he was guarded by Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon. The former Virginia star is a real pest on the defensive end with unusual strength and quickness. He's a very smart player and knows how to play physical perimeter defense. He is a terrific weapon for the Bucks to have against the Wizards, as he can switch back and forth on Wall and Beal.
Brogdon spent most of the game guarding Beal and Beal did have some success. Despite the turnovers, he managed 19 points on 8-for-17 from the field. He had his streak of 20 points or more snapped at 10 games. Brogdon's impact was evident in the turnovers and also Beal going 1-for-7 from three.
Up next: After eight of their last nine games at home, the Wizards now embark on a five-game road trip. They begin at the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.