Even though the Milwaukee Bucks have been problematic all season, they're in such shambles that the Wizards could get away with resting Nene to win their second game in a row Saturday night to hold onto the No. 6 seed in the East and guarantee themselves a winning record with two games left.
Bradley Beal had his best game in more than a week by scoring 15 of his game-high 26 in the first half as the Wizards (42-38) won for the third time in four meetings in front of 17,278 at Verizon Center. Two of those games had gone into overtime and in the third one the Wizards blew a 28-point lead and held on to win by just seven.
This was competitive for two quarters as Washington led 55-52 at half. But all five staters scored in double figures with Trevor Ariza, who had been battling the flu for more than a week, finishing at 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting. He made 2 of 4 three-pointers, breaking a streak of three consecutive games without one. John Wall had 15 points and eight assists and Marcin Gortat scored tallied 13 points and 13 rebounds, his 35th double-double of the season, and Trevor Booker contributed 11 points.
Milwaukee (15-65), which only had eight eligible and healthy players, didn't have starting point guard Brandon Knight. He was a late scratch because of a sore hip. They were led by Khris Middleton's 20 points and 20 from Ramon Sessions.
Turning point: After losing the lead early in the third quarter, the Wizards wore them down and closed with an 18-7 run going into the fourth. Booker had a three-point play, Beal blocked Middleton's shot which led to a bucket for Gortat, Wall lobbed Gortat for a dunk, Ariza had a catch-and-shoot three-pointer. In other words, it was done by committee.
Key stats: Washington only had 11 turnovers even though they were outrebounded again 42-36. Milwaukee, one of the NBA's worst rebounding teams, has done the trick each time and end with an edge of 25 in total rebounds.
Adjusting: Because this was the second of a back-to-back and he'd played 20 minutes Friday, Nene rested. He just returned from a left knee ligament strain that kept him out 21 games. Drew Gooden, who didn't play Friday, was on the floor 16 minutes and contributed four points in Nene's place. Al Harrington led the reserves with 12 points and Martell Webster added eight.
Back to normal: Otto Porter, coming off his best game of the season of nine points and nine rebounds, pestered another opponent with his hustle plays. But his first stint last just four minutes of the second quarter when he made his only shot to finish with two points. He had a tap out of a missed shot that led to a transition basket for Washington. He caused Jeff Adrien to lose the ball off his leg on an entry pass. Porter played out the last three minutes with the outcome in hand.
From the locker room: "We had good ball movement again. When we can go 25 and 10 or whatever the assist to turnover ratio is, that is us. Ball movement, player movement, a lot of guys being involved. I thought our bench came in, was solid for us again tonight which was going to be important. It is important to have contributions from everybody. The last two nights, I thought they have really stepped up." -- Wizards coach Randy Wittman
"I was shooting the ball with confidence and taking advantage of what the defense was giving me and how they were playing me." -- Beal
“Beal got going. It seemed like he and Khris Middleton were just exchanging baskets. Once he gets it going, that basket looks pretty big to him.” -- Bucks coach Larry Drew
“When they called out the name we go back and coach was ready to talk to us and just tell me, ‘Giannis you’re starting.’ I was shocked a little bit. I was like, ‘Who’s out?’ After they told me Brandon I said, ‘Oh my god now I have to be the point?'" -- Bucks G Giannis Antetokounmpo
Up next: The Wizards will be off Sunday and play the Miami Heat at Verizon Center on Monday (CSN, 7 p.m. ET).