Wizards-Bucks Preview

The Associated Press

While it's coming far too late for their liking, the Washington Wizards are on the brink of their first four-game win streak of the season.

To accomplish that feat, the Wizards must end their road woes Monday night against the slumping Milwaukee Bucks.

Injuries helped contribute to Washington's 4-28 start to the season, but the healthier Wizards (14-35) have won 10 of 17 and swept a three-game homestand this past week.

They defeated one of the top teams in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Clippers, and one of the best in the East, New York, before finishing with an 89-74 win over Brooklyn on Friday.

"We have to be hungry every game," forward Martell Webster said. "We have to continue to play the way we've been playing these last three games. We can't get complacent. We can't get comfortable, and we can't be satisfied."

The Wizards held the Nets to a season-low 32.9 percent shooting and dropped their average points allowed over their past eight games to 87.8. They gave up 96.8 per game in their first 41 contests.

"Having a sense of urgency on the defensive end, knowing that's the element that wins games, that's why we're continuing to play the way we're playing," Webster said.

Inefficient offense has been the biggest problem on the road, where the Wizards are averaging 86.2 points while going 3-21 - both league worsts. Washington hasn't shot better than 41.0 percent during its current four-game road skid.

"We've got to figure out a way to play better on the road and do it consistently," coach Randy Wittman said. "That's our next step. I feel good about these next two games (at Milwaukee and Detroit) because of what we've done (during the homestand)."

Washington might like its chances against Milwaukee, which has dropped five of six and is seeking to avoid matching its longest skid of the season at four.

While the Wizards have shined on defense lately, the Bucks (25-24) have allowed three straight opponents to reach the century mark. They've also been held under 40.0 percent shooting themselves in each of their past two games.

Detroit scored the final seven points in its 105-100 victory in Milwaukee on Saturday. With 26 points, Brandon Jennings was the only Bucks player to score more than 15, but he was 8 of 27 from the field.

"I don't think I'm reaching when I say we're obviously not on the same page now," swingman Mike Dunleavy said. "We're in a funk. Everybody's got their own little issues."

Monta Ellis was held to eight points Saturday - his second-lowest total this season - but had a team-best 22 in a 101-91 victory in Washington on Nov. 9. Bradley Beal scored 22 for the Wizards, who were missing John Wall and Nene.

That defeat dropped Washington to 2-8 in its last 10 against Milwaukee. The Wizards have lost four straight and seven of eight at the Bradley Center.

They might catch a break if Larry Sanders, the NBA's leader with 3.2 blocks per game, is out for a third straight contest. The Bucks big man has been dealing with a bruised lower back.

Milwaukee last dropped four in a row Dec. 30-Jan. 5, while Washington hasn't won four straight since its season-ending six-game run in 2011-12.

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