WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 6: John Wall #2 of the Washington Wizards handles the ball during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks on January 6, 2018 at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC.
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Wizards lose late to Bucks, 110-103

John Wall dished out a season-high 16 assists in the loss
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In what may have been a playoff preview on Saturday night, the Wizards fell to the Bucks late, 110-103. Coming off a late game in Memphis last night, the Wizards were outscored 28-18 in the fourth quarter. John Wall had 16 points and a season-high 16 assists, Bradley Beal scored 20 points, and Marcin Gortat added 17 points and seven rebounds. The Bucks, who entered the game as the NBA’s worst rebounding team, out-rebounded the Wizards 45-34 and won the fastbreak 18-5.

The Wizards came out hot in the first quarter, jumping out to a 12-2 lead in the opening 3:11. Wall had 10 points, six assists, and three rebounds in the first 12 minutes, dominating on offense. He scored or assisted on 24 of the team’s 32 first quarter points, as the Wizards shot 13-of-21 (61.9%). Kelly Oubre Jr., who started in place for Otto Porter Jr. (right hip strain), hit two 3-pointers in the opening quarter. Markieff Morris also gave the Wizards a boost with two tip-ins.

Oubre, Morris, Marcin Gortat, and Ian Mahinmi combined to shoot 15-of-20 in the first half and did most of their damage in the second quarter. The Bucks fought back in the final five minutes, using a 14-4 run to tie it at 53-53 at the half. Both teams would head into the locker room with eight turnovers, and the Bucks held the rebounding advantage 24-20.

Beal paced with the Wizards with 10 points in the third quarter on 4-of-5 shooting, while Antetokounmpo had 13 of his 34 points in the period. Both teams shot over 50.0% in the third, with Jodie Meeks hitting two key 3-pointers for the Wizards. Washington took a three-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

Early in the fourth quarter, Beal was on the fast break and Matthew Dellavedova grabbed him by the neck. A scuffle ensued after, but Dellavedova received a Flagrant 2 foul and was ejected from the game.

Antetokounmpo picked up his fifth foul mid-way through the fourth, and the Wizards took advantage, leading 99-96 at one point late. Antetokounmpo would return with less than three minutes remaining, and the Bucks started clicking again. Eric Bledsoe hit a clutch 3-pointer in Morris’ face with 1:17 remaining in the game, giving the Bucks an 105-101 lead. The Wizards brought it within three once again, but Antetokounmpo put away the Wizards on a turnaround pullup jump shot in the corner. Milwaukee’s play in clutch time was impressive and they won the fourth quarter overall 28-18.

"I thought they made some big plays down the stretch," Scott Brooks said postgame. "Giannis (Antetokounmpo) hit a baseline shot. We are up three with under three (minutes) to go, they got a lucky break on a bad call on Kelly (Oubre Jr.). That's part of the game. They made bigger plays than us down the stretch. Fourth quarter we were a little stagnant; we didn't move our bodies.

The Bucks held Beal and Wall to a combined 12-of-38 (31.6%) shooting from the field. Antetokounmpo, Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon especially defended the Wizards’ star backcourt exceptionally well. Though the backcourt struggled and Porter did not play, the Wizards’ frontcourt of Morris and Gortat came up big with 31 combined points on 13-of-19 (68.4%) shooting. Morris had his third straight double-double and grabbed four offensive rebounds, while Gortat added seven rebounds.

"I don't think they out-physical played us," Brooks said. "I think both teams played hard and physical. They made a few more shots than we did. A couple big plays I thought we had a chance to get a stop when we were up three, like I said 'that call'. Then we had a couple plays of that could have gone either way. Give them credit, they made a few more plays than we did."

The Wizards (23-17) are off until Wednesday when the Jazz come to D.C. at 7:00pm.