The Wizards Win Their Fifth Straight Despite Another Missed Game From Beal
Washington tallied their fifth-straight win on the first day of the new year with a 118-95 win in Milwaukee. The win was led by Rui Hachimura, who had a team-high 26 points off the bench. And since his return from injury back on December 22nd, Hachimura has been a crucial part of the success the Wiz have experienced. Rui has been able to put together a 30-point game, a 27-point game, and a 24-point game to go with his 26-point night against the Bucks.
However, the Bucks were without three key players: Giannis Antetokounmpo (knee soreness), Khris Middleton (knee), and Jrue Holiday (illness). Middleton hasn’t played since December 15th, a span in which the Bucks have dropped games to the Celtics, Cavaliers, Nets, Bulls, and now the Wizards. Then the absence of Antetokounmpo was huge as he was coming off back-to-back 40-point nights and is an MVP candidate through the season so far.
The Bucks without Antetokounmpo shot a poor 35% from the field, a category they usually sit in the mid to high 40s and even surpassing 50% at times with Giannis in the lineup. And they weren’t much better from deep, shooting 49 three-point shots and only hitting 13 of them, with Grayson Allen hitting a team-high 3 shots from downtown. Allen would finish the night with 13 points, and only one other made shot from the field.
The main guy for Milwaukee was Bobby Portis, who scored 19 points, including a perfect 6-6 from the charity stripe, hauled in 10 rebounds, 5 of which were offensively, and even recorded a steal. Portis has seen improvement bringing in rebounds and free throw shooting in comparison to last season, but has been outside of the starting five for all but 9 games so far this season. This comes with Giannis usually being healthy and Brook Lopez often running the five for the Bucks.
Now, while the Bucks were missing three key players, the Wizards were missing Bradley Beal for the third-straight game as he is once again dealing with hamstring issues. This absence has paved way for more playing time from Hachimura and Kispert, both of which are out of Gonzaga and have established themselves in the District.
Kispert scored 12 points on a perfect night shooting, which included two three-pointers. He would also bring in 6 rebounds, dish out one assist, and amass one steal. This season Kispert has seen a great improvement in his shooting, leading to him averaging nearly 2 more points per game and 5 more minutes per game.
The win, though, was due to the Wizards taking advantage of the paint being more open than usual. Washington would score 72 points in the paint to the Buck’s 26. This is largely in part of a 22-point outing from Porzingis and a 17-point night from Gafford, who saw just his 7th start all season last night. Gafford would shoot an efficient 8-11 from the field and tally 4 rebounds and assists to complete his night.
And Kuzma didn’t have a loud night scoring but was doing everything else. Kuz finished the night with a 10-point, 11-assist, and 13-rebound triple-double. That was Kuzma’s first triple-double all season and came when the Wizards needed it most.
The win pushed the Wizards to 17-21 as well as into the 10th spot in the Eastern Conference, meaning they are in a Play-In spot now. Washington will stay in Milwaukee to play the Bucks once again on Tuesday. Tip-off for that game will be at 8 pm EST.