Short-handed Wizards host red-hot Bucks

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·3 min read
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The Milwaukee Bucks and Wizards meet Monday at Capital One Arena in Washington D.C. for the second of two consecutive meetings between the Eastern Conference foes.

Despite playing without All-Star and NBA leading scorer Bradley Beal, Washington took Milwaukee to the limit in Saturday's 125-119 Bucks win.

Russell Westbrook, who recorded a triple-double of 42 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds, made a 3-pointer that pulled the Wizards into a 119-119 tie before Milwaukee scored the game's final six points.

Rui Hachimura contributed to Washington's competitive showing, adding a double-double of 29 points and 11 rebounds.

"Today, Brad was out, so the team needed scoring. That's why I was more confident in myself. I need to be the guy on the floor offensively, defensively," Hachimura said in his postgame press conference.

Beal, who sat most of the second half in a 127-101 loss to Philadelphia on Friday, is listed as day-to-day due to a knee injury. Washington was also without Davis Bertans on Saturday due to a calf injury.

At 11.3, Bertans is one of Washington's four available double-figure point-per-game scorers along with Beal (32.1), Westbrook (21.1) and Hachimura (12.9). Bertans is listed as day-to-day.

Milwaukee weathered Washington's challenge on Saturday in part thanks to reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo's triple-double of 33 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists.

Saturday's triple-double was Antetokounmpo's second in as many games after posting 24 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists on Thursday against New York -- and follows his MVP performance in the March 7 NBA All-Star Game.

"Giannis' passing and unselfishness was really good, and we made enough shots around his passing and made enough stops to find a way to win a tough game," Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said in his postgame press conference.

Although Milwaukee's shooting on Saturday was just 43.4 percent - more than five percent off its season-long average, which is among the best in the NBA - the Bucks' scoring balance carried them to the win.

Eight players scored in double-figures, with Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, Bobby Portis, Bryn Forbes, Brook Lopez, Pat Connaughton and Donte DiVincenzo all notching at least 10 points.

On the season, six Bucks are averaging in double-figures with Forbes just below the mark at 9.6 points per game. Milwaukee's balance and depth fuels its 119.4-point per game average, second-best in the NBA through Saturday's games.

Saturday in Washington marked the fifth time over a current stretch winning 8-of-9 that the Bucks scored more than their season average.

Washington, meanwhile, is giving up the NBA's second-worst defensive yield at 119.7 points per game. In their three outings since the All-Star break, the Wizards have given up 125 points once and 127 points twice.

Despite the output allowed on Saturday, Washington coach Scott Brooks praised the defensive effort in holding the Bucks below 44 percent shooting, and cited the interior defense of center Alex Len, who Brooks called "active."

"This is a tough team. Think of all the pickles they put you in. They have one of the best attackers in the league [Antetokounmpo]," Brooks said of Milwaukee. "They have 3-point shooters all the way around the floor. You have to make tough decisions."

--Field Level Media