Wizards fall to Bucks without Kuzma originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
WASHINGTON — The Washington Wizards lost to the Milwaukee Bucks 117-111 on Sunday night at Capital One Arena. Here are five takeaways from what went down…
The Wizards were without two starters in Kyle Kuzma and Monte Morris and playing on the second night of a back-to-back as they hosted arguably the NBA’s best team at the moment, the Milwaukee Bucks. Though they put up a good fight, they ran out of steam late and made some costly errors in crunch time to suffer their second loss in as many nights.
The defeat spoiled a big night from Bradley Beal, who poured in 33 points to go along with nine rebounds. Giannis Antetokounmpo, meanwhile, led Milwaukee with 23 points, 13 assists, 10 rebounds and three blocks for a triple-double.
The Wizards have lost three of their last five games. They are 30-34 on the season, heading to Detroit for their next game on Tuesday.
This game could have gone very differently if the Wizards did a better job defending the three-point line. The Bucks shot 22-for-44 (44.9%) from long range, making 12 threes in the first half alone. It was a huge advantage, as Washington made only eight threes. The Wizards were late to close out on too many shots and the Bucks consistently made them pay, often off of drive-and-kick actions by Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday.
The extra attention paid to Antetokounmpo by the Wizards’ defense naturally led to others getting open. Guys like Jevon Carter (6-10 3PT), Joe Ingles (4-8 3PT) and Grayson Allen (3-6 3PT) feasted from long range. The Wizards have an above average three-point defense, ranking eighth in the league in threes allowed per game (11.7) and 14th in opponent percentage (35.6%), so this was a bit out of character. It may have been a result of them being down a few key guys and having tired legs on the second night of a back-to-back.
Hot start for Porzingis
There has been a trend with Kristaps Porzingis this season that involves big first quarters. He had 18 in the first on Sunday against the Bucks, which is one of the highest-scoring quarters of his career. Porzingis has now scored 18 or more in a quarter just three times and all of them have been this season, his career-high being 19 against the Knicks on Feb. 24.
The thing is Porzingis tends to cool off afterwards. It’s probably a combination of opposing teams making adjustments, sometimes by going small and switching, and the Wizards starting to spread the ball around more. But it happened again in this one, as Porzingis went scoreless in the second quarter. He ended up with 24 points and 14 rebounds on 11-for-29 shooting.
Latest on Kuzma
Kuzma was out due to right knee soreness after he banged knees with Jakob Poeltl in the Wizards’ loss to the Raptors on Saturday. According to Kuzma, he actually first hurt himself in the game before, in the first game against Toronto on Thursday. In that one, he tweaked his knee when it bent awkwardly during a play.
Kuzma wasn’t 100 percent when he played against the Raptors on Saturday, but had enough to give it a go. It was just bad luck that he would get hit in the same spot when he ran into Poeltl on his way to the rim. After Saturday’s loss, Kuzma said he would have to see how he felt in the morning to know whether he could play or not. He must have been in some real discomfort, as Kuzma doesn’t often miss games. He’s third on the Wizards this season in games played (58).
Avdija played sick
Deni Avdija left Saturday’s game against the Raptors and was a gametime decision for this one with a stomach bug, which does not sound fun. But Avdija was able to play through it and contributed with 17 points, six rebounds and two steals in 31 minutes.
Avdija hit two threes in the third quarter that helped the Wizards stick around as Milwaukee was trying to get separation. He also did a decent job guarding Antetokounmpo, all things considered. Avdija, though, stepped on the sideline with 1:51 to go as the Wizards were down by only two points. Allen hit a three on the next possession and Avdija then committed an offensive foul right after that. Those were costly mistakes.