Arenas and the Wizards visit the Bradley Center on Saturday trying to extend their winning streak to six games at the expense of the Bucks.
The sixth-year guard had 36 points, nine rebounds and seven assists Friday as Washington (17-12) claimed the lead in the Southeast Division with a 112-111 victory over Orlando. He scored 14 fourth-quarter points for the Wizards, topping the 30-point mark for the fifth consecutive game and continuing his month-long scoring binge.
“It wasn’t a smooth game,” Washington coach Eddie Jordan said. “But Gilbert just took control and willed his personality on the game.”
Arenas is averaging 30.5 points this season, but has averaged 35.1 points in 15 games this month, shooting 41.9 percent from 3-point range. He has a 40, 50 and 60-point game among his efforts in December, highlighted by his career-high 60-point effort in a Dec. 17 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Wizards are 12-3 in December and leading a division this late in the season for the first time since 1978-79, the last time the franchise won a division title.
“It’s 29 games into the season, we’re not worried about first place,” said Arenas. “It means nothing until the end of the season.
“We’re playing great basketball now and that’s the reward. This whole December, making shots at the end, getting stops and we’re playing good basketball.”
Arenas is averaging just 22.5 points in 14 lifetime games against the Bucks, but he has averaged 32.8 in the last four matchups against them. He had 29 points and 11 assists in Washington’s 116-111 victory Nov. 10 over Milwaukee.
The Bucks (15-15) had their season-high, six-game winning streak snapped with Friday’s 109-99 loss at Cleveland that also ended a string of three straight road victories. Michael Redd scored 24 points and Mo Williams added 21 for Milwaukee, which shot just 40.5 percent from the field and allowed 11 3-pointers, seven by Donyell Marshall.
“Give Cleveland credit,” Redd said. “Marshall made some big threes. We really couldn’t solve that, and LeBron hit some big threes.”
Milwaukee’s shooting percentage was its second worst of the season, better than only a 38.4-percent effort in a 101-88 loss to Utah on Dec. 4. The Bucks had averaged 113.8 points during the winning streak while making 51.3 percent of their shots from the field.
The Bucks will try to extend a six-game home winning streak, their longest at the Bradley Center since a 10-game run from Dec. 10, 2003, to Jan. 15, 2004. Milwaukee has also won 12 of its last 14 home games against Washington since the start of the 1998-99 season.