“At home, we’ve got so much energy and extra bounce in our step on defense. On the road, it’s horrible,” said Wall, who finished with 10 points and 13 assists. “There’s little stuff that we do at home that we don’t do on the road.”
The Wizards had ample opportunities to open a big lead against the short-handed Bucks early, but squandered a 12-point lead in a matter of 7 minutes in the first half as the Bucks began hitting shots despite missing starters Brandon Jennings (left foot), Carlos Delfino (concussion) and John Salmons (right hip).
“It’s a vulnerable time for our season right now,” Bucks forward Drew Gooden said. “We didn’t want them to get their first road win. We needed to win. We needed it.”
Milwaukee, which came in as the NBA’s worst shooting team (41.9 percent), went 35 of 73 to finish at 48 percent from the field. Andrew Bogut, who has been struggling with a viral infection, managed just six points and Salmons was scratched minutes before tip, but it didn’t stop the Bucks, who snapped a three-game losing streak with much improved shooting.
“When you see one or two of them go in, the basket gets bigger,” said Dooling, who went 9 of 11 from the field. “Scoring’s been a problem for us, but tonight we did a good job of putting points on the board. It was a good shooting night.”
It’s been a much different year for the Bucks after they reached the playoffs last season with a 46-36 record. Milwaukee (15-24) got two points on Wednesday night from Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, the only Game 7 starter against Atlanta in May who played against the Wizards.
“We’ve got to stick with it. If we stick with it, things will turn the corner eventually — hopefully sooner than later,” Bogut said.
Milwaukee turned a two-point halftime deficit into a 75-66 lead heading into the fourth after Washington went the final 5 minutes of the third quarter without a field goal. Washington, which has lost its road games by an average of more than 14 points, never came closer than seven the rest of the way.
Andray Blatche scored 23 points and Nick Young added 21 for the Wizards, who are two losses from matching the worst road start since 1997-98, when Denver dropped 22 straight.
“You don’t want to go 0-41,” Wall said. “That’s embarrassing, and I think we gave a lot of them away.”
JaVale McGee blocked his NBA-best 100th shot early in the first quarter and Washington jumped out to a 31-19 lead off Wall’s jumper early in the second.
It’d get better quickly for the Bucks.
“We can’t let guys like that pick us apart,” Wall said.
Wall found McGee for a one-handed alley-oop slam by McGee on a touch pass that left the No. 1 overall pick giving a celebratory salute that put Washington up 60-59 midway through the third quarter.
That would be Washington’s last lead.
“We can’t just wait until we get home,” Rashard Lewis said. “We’ve got to find a way to start winning on the road.”
“It’s been like musical chairs, we’ve been rotating bodies. Sometimes you might have certain guys, sometimes you might not,” Dooling said. “We’ve got to concentrate on our brand of basketball. That’s playing hard on the defensive end, executing on offense and playing together.”
Notes: Delfino said he hopes to practice for the first time since his concussion on Thursday. … Bogut and McGee are first and second, respectively, in the NBA in blocks per game. … Bogut’s ‘NBA Dream Package’ auction to raise funds for victims in recent Australian flooding was at slightly more than $35,000 before Wednesday’s game. Bogut is flying four people anywhere in the world to the U.S. to see games in Milwaukee and Los Angeles with multiple activities planned.