The Washington Wizards looked unfocused and out of sync and repeatedly flirted with disaster Wednesday night with their careless passes and defensive lapses. The only saving grace was that they were playing the lowly Milwaukee Bucks, a struggling team that showed up at Bradley Center on a nine-game losing streak. Because even with their lethargic play, the Wizards were able to hang around just long enough to steal a game on the road. Marcin Gortat scored a season-high 25 points, including six in overtime, to lead the Wizards to a 100-92 win. John Wall wasn’t able to continue his recent offensive barrage, but he still finished with 19 points as the Wizards (7-8) won three in a row for the first time this season. They have won five of six overall. Trailing by three points with a minute left in regulation, the Wizards got two steals to quickly regain the lead. Wall picked off Bucks point guard Brandon Knight, and Martell Webster later got fouled on a three-pointer that tied the game at 84, but missed the free throw. Trevor Ariza then stole the ball from Bucks guard O.J. Mayo and sprinted up the floor for a layup that put the Wizards ahead by two. Then, after getting fouled while securing a rebound, Ariza made only 1 of 2 free throws to give his team an 87-84 lead with 12.7 seconds remaining. Majo made sure that the game would be extended another five minutes when he buried a long three-pointer over the outstretched hands of Nene. Wall tried to finish the game in regulation, but he slipped on the Bucks’ brand new court, nearly lost his dribble, then missed a lefty layup as time expired. Bucks reserve Luke Ridnour gave his team a 90-89 lead with a three-pointer in overtime, but the Wizards worked the ball inside to Gortat on two baskets, then Ariza put the game out of reach with a three-pointer. Webster reached double figures for the fifth time in six games since being inserted into the starting lineup. He had 18 points and made four three-pointers. Ariza had 14 in his second game back after missing the previous five with a strained right hamstring. Wall had scored at least 30 points in three straight games and he delivered in extremely efficient fashion, scoring 98 points on just 57 shot attempts. Wall felt that his performance made a statement about being one of the best point guards, but he also understood that it would be difficult to continue playing at the same level. He didn’t drop off completely, but he started slowly, offering just two points and two turnovers in the first half. Wall came awake in the third quarter as he made three three-pointers and scored 13 of the Wizards’ 22 points to give his team a 71-68 lead entering the final period. Nene was coming off a night in which he scored a career-high 30 points against the Los Angeles Lakers, so with the Bucks focused on containing him, Gortat had a chance to provide most of the scoring inside. Gortat scored 12 points in the first half, then carried the team during a critical stretch in the fourth quarter and finally in overtime. The Wizards are 2-2 in overtime games this season.
Gortat leads Washington to third straight win, 100-92 over Bucks
Washington Post | Nov 28