Beal’s return not enough, Wizards drop fourth straight

Washington- Without their star Bradley Beal, the Wizards dropped their third straight game despite Rui Hachimura’s breakout performance. Washington returned Beal tonight to once again take on the Bucks, and looked to get The Wizards back in the win column. Westbrook, who scored 42 on Saturday, looked for another big night with his running mate back along the side of him.

The Wizards hustle was on full display early. Lots of tough defense and diving for loose balls helped Washington keep within a one score game. Dante Divincenzo began to heat up from beyond the arc in the first however. Giannis and the Bucks built a small lead late in the first attacking the rim at will. Beal looked fresh, but hadn’t quite got it going yet.

The Wizards bench began to check in late in the first and made immediate impact. Davis Bertans knocked down a three, and Lopez had a dunk. However, Milwaukee took a nine point lead after the first. Washington hadn’t picked it up offensively yet only scoring 23 in the quarter.

Bertans had 2 threes early: However, the rest of the team was 0-7 from three after the first. Three-point shooting has been an inconsistency for this Wizards team this season. Some nights hot, some nights cold as ice.

Milwaukee started 7-14 from beyond the arc. It’s difficult to keep up when a team is shooting like that. The Bucks are dangerous, Wizards defensive mistakes would be easily taken advantage of. Milwaukee built up to a 16 point lead with four minutes left in the half.

Washington remained cold for the remainder of the half as the Bucks stayed hot. The threes were raining in for Milwaukee. Rui hit a big three at the buzzer to make it only a 14 point deficit at halftime. Beal and Westbrook each had 11, but the Bucks put up 69 points on 9/16 shooting from three. The defense has to close off that perimeter better.

As the second half got underway, Frustrations began to mount for the Wizards. The stellar shooting from the Bucks continued. Washington began to look frustrated as the Bucks Continued to get wide open looks from deep. Washington’s offense still remained slow as the Bucks pushed ahead by 20.

The Bucks lead continued to grow as the Wizards play progressively was getting sloppier. The turnover bug once again bit the Wizards. Turnovers have killed them all season, and the third quarter was no different.

Later in the third, a couple threes’ led to a 16-4 run by the Wizards that helped cut into the large lead Milwaukee held. Hachimura was once again having a nice night. To this point, he was 3-5 beyond the arc and been overall assertive with 17 points. Washington cut the lead to 11 with 2:41 left in the third.

Beal’s terrific third got the Wizards back into the game. Beal finished the quarter with 16, but a cold ending by the Wizards left them down 16 heading into the fourth.

Washington, once again in the fourth started off on a 7-0 run, and was slowly climbing their way back. Westbrook notched his 13th assist already to this point and was having one of his best nights distributing the ball. Beal picked up an and one to cut the lead to 9. Beal had 33 to this point and 22 in the second half. Plenty of time left with Giannis on the bench with 8:40 remaining.

Just like that, The Wizards cut the lead to five! Hachimura and Bertans continued the scoring run as the Bucks were now starting to feel the Wizards coming. Beal was hot, and I mean hot right now.

With just over five minutes to go, Milwaukee got a quick two buckets to give them a little breathing room and a nine point lead.

Unfortunately, offensive rebounds were killing the Wizards. The Bucks got the lead back up to ten after multiple second chance scores. Another two straight buckets by Giannis forced a Wizards timeout with 3:40 to go.

The final minutes did not go the Wizards way as Milwuakee was able to keep pace and finish off the Wizards. Washington fell and had lost their fourth straight. A horrific start for the Wizards to open up the second half.

Beal was terrific in his return, but it wasn’t enough to propel the Wizards over an elite Bucks team. The 26-point deficit was too much to overcome. Beal finished with 37 points and and 5 assists. Westbrook once again was stellar with 23 points and 17 dimes. The second half schedule is treacherous, Washington will need to find away to get out this slump soon.

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