Middleton leads Bucks past Wizards in OT

Benjamin Standig, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

WASHINGTON -- The Milwaukee Bucks entered reeling, the Washington Wizards revitalized. The roles were reversed after their second head-to-head overtime game in the last two weeks.
Forward Khris Middleton scored a career-high 29 points and forward John Henson had 19 points and 17 rebounds as the struggling Bucks used a late 9-0 run to pick up a rare 109-105 overtime win over the Washington Wizards on Friday night.
Point guard Brandon Knight sank clutch jumpers in the fourth quarter and overtime, and finished with 20 points for the Bucks (4-15), who had lost 13 of 14 games including a setback at home in overtime to Washington last month.
Trailing 102-97 with 54.9 seconds remaining, Milwaukee scored the final five points of regulation, including Knight's game-tying 3-pointer with 15.9 seconds left, and the first four points of overtime.
"It was huge," Middleton said of the win. "We've been struggling all season so far and just to gut out a win like this in overtime is good."
Point guard John Wall scored 10 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter and swingman Trevor Ariza had 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Wizards (9-10).
After Wall's fallback jumper gave the Wizards a five-point lead inside the final minute of the fourth quarter, they went over five minutes without a point.
"Guys really manned up in that overtime and really got down and guarded the ball, and pulled in and helped each other," Knight said.
The Wizards won two straight and seven of nine overall, putting the team at .500 for the first time since 2009 and into third place in the Eastern Conference. In the first half, they didn't perform like a team seeking to get over that record hump.
Washington lost two starters to injury during the game. Small forward Martell Webster suffered a sprained left ankle on the final play of the first quarter while attempting a running floater before the final buzzer. Power forward Nene scored 10 points before leaving in the third quarter with right foot tendinitis.
"We came out and played like it's a pickup game in the first half," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "That's where we lost the game."
Guard O. J. Mayo had 17 for the injury-riddled Bucks. Milwaukee entered 29th in scoring, averaging 90.3 points.
Power forward Ersan Ilyasova's layup gave the Bucks a 106-102 lead with 3:12 remaining in overtime before the raucous crowd of 18,194.
Ariza made five, 3-pointers, including all four attempts in the third quarter. Fouled while shooting from beyond the arc with 43 seconds remaining, he made three free throws, trimming Milwaukee's lead to one. Knight countered with a jumper on the Bucks' next possession. Milwaukee then forced Wall into a turnover along the sideline.
Washington has not had a winning record at any point since winning two of three games to start the 2009-10 season, the same season Wall played as a freshman at Kentucky.
The Wizards shot 34.1 percent in the first half and fell apart over the final four minutes as Milwaukee entered halftime leading 56-43. The Bucks outscored Washington 14-3 over the final 4:01 of the second quarter. Middleton made 7 of 11 field-goal attempts, including three 3-pointers in the first half.
"Somebody on this team has got to become the leader that doesn't allow these things to happen," Wittman said. "I went into the locker room to talk to them before the game. It was carefree unlike the last two weeks. ... I told our guys when we walked out we could be in a little trouble tonight."
Told of Wittman's "carefree" comments, Wall said, "That's his opinion. I feel like we didn't play great in the first half, but its two halves to a basketball game. In the second half, we had a chance to win the game. Give credit to them. They made big plays and big shots like we did, but they made bigger plays than us down the stretch."
Forward Otto Porter, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 draft, made his NBA debut opening the second quarter. The 2013 Big East Player of the Year missed all of training camp and the opening 18 games with a right hip flexor injury. He played a scoreless 14 minutes.
Washington won 100-92 at Milwaukee in overtime Nov. 27.
NOTES: It was another short-handed game for the Bucks, who played without F Caron Butler (sore left knee), G Carlos Delfino (foot), C Zaza Pachulia (sprained right foot) and C Larry Sanders (thumb). C Ekpe Udoh (right ankle) played but did not start. ... With F Otto Porter available, the Wizards made C Kevin Seraphin inactive with a sore right knee. ... Bucks F Giannis Antetokounmpo, the youngest player in the NBA, turned 19 on Friday. ... Washington last won six straight home games in March and April last season. ... Middleton has scored in double figures in nine of his last 13 games. ... The Bucks return home to face the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday. The Wizards host the Denver Nuggets on Monday.

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