MILWAUKEE — Once the Wizards adjusted to playing against a Milwaukee team missing star Giannis Antetokounmpo, they were all right.
The Wizards overcame a sluggish start that saw them trail by double digits and beat the Bucks 107-101 Sunday.
“In the first half, we gave them everything they wanted,” Wizards coach Scott Brooks said. “I think human nature kicked in. They didn’t have Giannis and we kind of relaxed. You can’t do that.”
“The second half, I thought, was about as good as we’ve played all year on both ends of the floor,” he said.
Antetokounmpo is averaging 24 points per game. He was ill and sat out.
Bradley Beal led Washington with 26 points and Markieff Morris added 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Jabari Parker’s basket brought the Bucks within 104-101 with 1:05 to play. Washington grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed jumper by John Wall, and Otto Porter then found Morris wide open under the hoop off an inbounds play for a basket with 37.9 seconds left.
Wall did knock down a key midrange jumper with less than four minutes left, and he provided one of the fun highlights of the game with his celebration dribble dance as the final seconds ticked down.
Milwaukee connected on 7 of 12 3-pointers in the first half and led 57-49 at the break.
The Wizards began the second half on a 15-6 run to take a 64-63 lead on Kelly Oubre’s dunk. Oubre had 10 of his 17 points in the third, helping Washington outscore the Bucks 33-21 in the quarter.
Bucks coach Jason Kidd was clearly bothered after the game, repeatedly blaming himself.
“It was bad coaching,” Kidd said. “I messed the guys up, it was on me. The third quarter was something we talked about and I didn’t do a good job.”
“This is a consistent thing we’ve been doing for the last six or seven games. The first quarter, we’ve been down. The third quarter, we’ve been down. This falls on my shoulders. I’ve got to do a better job of coaching there in the third.” he said.
After turning the ball over 12 times in the first half, Washington committed just three miscues in the third quarter. The Wizards also took away the 3-point shot from the Bucks, as Milwaukee was 0 for 4 from distance in the third.
“We took those away in the second half and made them drive,” Oubre said. “They got a lot more paint points than they did in the first half, but our goal was to run them off the 3-point line and contest all jumpers and layups.”
Parker led Milwaukee with 28 points. Malcolm Brogdon finished with a career-high 22 points and Michael Beasley scored 18 points in 16 minutes off the bench.
Wizards: Beal briefly went down after colliding with Porter in the second quarter. He limped off the court but stayed in the game following a timeout.
Bucks: G Matthew Dellevadova returned after missing five games with a strained right hamstring. … Milwaukee’s eight steals in the first quarter were its most in any quarter since April 9, 2006 . Beasley left the game with a left shin contusion with 1:24 left in the third quarter and did not return.
Antetokounmpo reported to the BMO Harris Bradley Center in the morning, was evaluated by a team doctor and ruled out.
“He’s just sick,” Kidd said. “Next guy up. We have plenty of guys, so it is the next one up.”
Antetokounmpo, who practiced Saturday, had played in all 35 games for the Bucks this season and has missed just three over the last two seasons.
The 22-year-old Antetokounmpo is averaging 9.0 rebounds, 5.7 assists, 2.1 blocks and 1.9 steals per game.
Wizards: Washington hosts Chicago on Tuesday. The Wizards have split a pair of games with the Bulls this season.
Bucks: Milwaukee plays at San Antonio on Tuesday. The Bucks have not beaten the Spurs since 2012 and have not won in San Antonio since 2008.
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