Wizards hold on for wire-to-wire win in Milwaukee

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Tuesday and Wednesday night this week may well be the toughest back-to-back the Wizards will face all season. Now half-way there, Washington is passing the test so far. After their hottest start yet in 2017-18, the Wizards needed plenty of grit to hang on to beat the Bucks in Milwaukee, 107-104. Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. led the way with 21 and 17 points, respectively, along with seven rebounds apiece.

More importantly, after Washington had allowed the Bucks back into the game following a 40-22 lead after the first quarter, it was Beal with the answers down the stretch. His eight points in the fourth led all scorers in the frame, and no bucket was bigger than his 3-pointer with just under a minute remaining in the game to put the Wizards up five points. He also hit a late free-throw to ensure that the Bucks could do no better than tie on the final possession.

Washington came into Tuesday night’s game playing like they knew the implications of a victory in Milwaukee. With the season series tilted 1-2 in the Bucks’ favor (the road team has now won all four games between the two this year), Beal and company knew they needed to tie it up with the Eastern Conference playoff standings tightly bunched and Milwaukee just 1.5 games back.

A 24-5 run to start the game led to a 40-point first quarter, the Wizards’ best of the season thanks to a balanced effort from Beal (11 points), Porter (nine) and Keef Morris (eight of his 14 points on the night). And while the Bucks clamped down defensively in the second quarter, a few critical 3-pointers (two from Porter) helped Washington maintain a 14-point lead at the halftime break.

The tide turned in the third, with Milwaukee’s Eric Bledsoe (17 points) sparking a 12-2 run that helped the Bucks outscore Washington by 11 in the quarter and head into the fourth with a manageable three-point deficit. Khris Middleton (17 points) added seven of his own in the third and helped set up a back-and-forth finish.

Most remarkably, while Milwaukee shaved its deficit down to one point five different times in the fourth quarter, the Bucks never led on the night. The Wizards had an answer each time down the stretch, ultimately stymying leading scorer Giannis Antetokounmpo (23 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists) on a turnaround jumper for a critical stop with four seconds remaining.

Now, there will be no rest for the weary as Washington heads home to D.C. to host the defending champion Warriors on Wednesday night. Tip-off at Capital One Arena is set for 8 p.m. (ESPN/1500 AM).

Odds and Ends

- Entering Tuesday with the NBA’s best mark in assisted field goal percentage over the past month, the Wizards kept the pace up with 30 assists on 42 made field goals (71.4%)

- Washington now moves to 10-3 since losing John Wall to a knee injury. Tomas Satoransky scored eight points to go with six assists on Tuesday.

- The Wizards’ bench came up big on the night, outscoring Milwaukee’s 41-35 in a game where they needed every point. Kelly Oubre Jr. led the way with 13 points, while Tim Frazier, Ian Mahinmi and Jodie Meeks scored eight points apiece.