The Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo notched 31 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in a 133-122 win against the Washington Wizards. It marked four straight wins for the Bucks and three straight triple-doubles for Antetokounmpo, and a sweep of the Wizards in their two-game series. For the Wizards, it was their fourth straight loss and dropped them to 14-24 on the year and 13th in the Eastern conference.
The Bucks almost let the game slip away despite having a 15 point lead at the half and a 26 point lead midway through the fourth quarter. The Wizards were able to cut it to five points midway through the fourth. Antetokounmpo has been criticized in the past for his inability to close out games, but he scored four straight points to bring the Bucks’ lead back to double digits in the final minutes of the game.
Bradley Beal had another excellent night in a loss, tallying 37 points on an uber efficient 13/19 shooting from the field and 4/7 on 3-pointers. Rui Hachimura also put together a solid performance with 22 points on 9/18 shooting. One of the main deficiencies in his skillset coming out of college was his inability to shoot 3-pointers. This was evident during his rookie year as he shot just 28.7 percent on 1.8 3-point attempts per game. However, he has been silencing the critics with his recent success from behind the arc. He is shooting 45.5 percent on 3.7 3-point attempts in March, and was 4-9 from behind the arc last night. While the Wizards’ season is not going as they hoped it would, they can at least take solace in his continued development as an offensive player going forward.
The Wizards desperately need help in the frontcourt, as they are in the bottom half of the league in both points allowed in the paint per game and rebounds per game. Their current froncourt rotation mainly consists of Robin Lopez and Alex Len, who played just 27 minutes in total against the Bucks. They should potentially look to shore up this aspect of the roster as the March 25th trade deadline approaches.
This game was yet another example of the Wizards clawing back into a game that they were down by a large margin in, only to run out of steam towards the end of their effort. They clearly have the offensive firepower and shot creation ability necessary to compete with good teams, but have still not figured out how to play more consistently and stop themselves from coming out flat out of the gates. Some of this can be chalked up to inexperience, Garrison Matthews and Rui Hachimura are young players who have not had a lot of opportunities closing out games. However, at this point in the season, they have been in similar situations too many times to not have learned how to overcome such a persistent issue.
The Wizards play host to the struggling Sacramento Kings this Wednesday in the third game of a five game home stand. It could be an excellent opportunity to pick up an easy win, as the Kings are just 15-24, but they have struggled against teams with athletic slashing guards this season, and it’s hard to think of a matchup against De’Aaron Fox going any differently. Ja Morant, a similar type of player, gashed them for 35 points on 11/18 against the Wizards a two weeks ago, and provided further evidence that they desperately need help in the frontcourt. Hopefully, the team will be able to rise to the challenge and get their season on track.
All stats courtesy of Pro Basketball Reference and TeamRankings