By Charlie Gibson
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Randy Wittman and the Wizard’s coaching staff implemented a new offensive scheme in training camp. But after a 4-4 start, recent practice sessions have put the emphasis back on defense.
The Wizards used their new defensive focus to take control of the game in the second quarter. After giving up 29 points in a back and forth first, the second unit set the tone on defense to start the second. Nene and starter Otto Porter led the charge by walling off the paint against the Milwaukee’s backups.
When Washington’s starters returned to the game the defense remained steady, and the offense started to hum. A three pointer by Garrett Temple and two by Jared Dudley started things off, and the Wizards rode their high energy to a 37-17 second quarter advantage.
On the last play of the half, Temple caught a full court in-bounds pass from Dudley and drove to the rim for a buzzer beating layup and 18 point lead.
John Wall had a strong game with 19 points on 7 of 10 shooting to go along with 9 assists and 6 rebounds. Otto Porter also continued his impressive play of late with 19 points on 7 of 11 shooting, 4 assists, and 3 steals.
The Wizards played their third straight game without Bradley Beal, but didn’t miss him in this one. Marcin Gortat had a near double-double with 12 points and 9 rebounds, and Jared Dudley had his best game as a Wizard with 13 points and 7 rebounds while shooting 3-4 from three.
Khris Middleton led the Bucks with 14 points, and former Maryland star, Greivis Vasquez had 12 off the bench.
The Bucks made a run in the third quarter to cut the Wizards lead to single digits, thanks to two three-pointers by Michael Carter-Williams, but the Wizards were able to respond and the game was never in doubt again.
The home-team Wizards out-shot the Bucks 53%-43%, were +15 from the free throw line, and were +8 in rebounds. The Wizards moved the ball all night, ending up with 25 assists and only 12 turnovers. No player attempted more than 11 shots. The Bucks, meanwhile, had 19 turnovers and got minimal production from big name players Giannis Antetokoumpo and Greg Monroe, who combined to shoot 4 of 19 from the field.
A home win against the Bucks is nothing to get too excited about. But the Wizards played one of their best games of the season, finally combining their strong defense from last year and the high-octane, ball movement offense from this year. Now sitting at 5-4, the team is above .500 again and, for one night at least, has righted the ship.