The Washington Wizards got their 4th straight win for the first time this season and won only their fourth game on the road, with a 102-90 triumph in Wisconsin over the Milwaukee Bucks. The win tonight represents Washington's first road victory against an Eastern Conference team this season. Their previous road wins were against New Orleans, Denver and Portland, all Western Conference clubs. The Bucks fall to 25-25 and have lost 4 in a row and six of their last seven. The Wizards improve to 15-35 and 10-7 since John Wall's season debut.
The Wizards played a complete game tonight, hitting 57% of their shots from the field, out-performing the Bucks on rebounds and assists and holding Milwaukee to 38% shooting from the floor. Washington's only blemish tonight was 19 turnovers, 7 by John Wall, who veered between moments of excellence and moments of wildness.
The leaders tonight, however, were starting power forward Nene and first-man-off-the-bench, Bradley Beal, the backup [for now] shooting guard. Beal scored a career-high 28 points and hit shots from all over the floor. Beal scored on drives and nailed 4 of 5 3-pointers, as well as 10 of 17 shots overall. When the Wizards fell behind early in the first half Beal poured in 16 points before halftime to keep the Wiz in the game and then push them into the lead in the second quarter. His +27 court ratio was easily the highest on the game.
Nene continued his fine play down low for the Wizards, hitting 10 of 13 shots, grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing 6 assists. In addition, the interior defense provided by Nene and Emeka Okafor shut the Bucks out of the paint for much of the night, forcing Milwaukee to rely on its outside jump shooting, which didn't come through for the home team. Okafor also had a double-double, scoring 12 points on 5 of 8 shooting and pulling down 10 boards.
On a night when Martell Webster's hot shooting abandoned him, Beal came through instead, adding 4 rebounds to his 28 points. Also off the bench, Trevor Ariza provided some lockdown defense and hit 4 of 7 shots for 8 points and a +19 court ratio.
John Wall finally hit some shots, hitting 5 of 6, but mostly concentrated on setting up his teammates with his 9 assists. Although Wall's 7 turnovers were disappointing, he played the best defense of the season, pestering Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings into missing 14 of 17 shots.
Most of all, though, this game was about Beal showing he may be fully healed from his wrist injury and demonstrating the sort of player he can be. The tentative rookie we saw so much of earlier in the season was nowhere in evidence tonight. Instead, Beal attacked the basket, shot after a dribble or two and looked very natural within the flow of the team's offense.
Washington's next game comes tomorrow night in The Palace at Auburn Hills against the Detroit Pistons. After that, the Wiz get a breather for the All Star game break.