MILWAUKEE — The Washington Wizards hope they learned their lesson after almost blowing a 28-point lead Saturday night.
Thankfully for the Wizards, they were playing the league’s worst team.
“We made this game a lot harder than it should have been,” said Washington’s John Wall, who scored only nine points and missed 10 of 14 shots.
The Wizards opened a 71-43 lead in the second quarter against Milwaukee (12-50), the NBA’s first team to lose 50 games. But the Bucks cut the deficit to 104-101 on a pair of free throws by Ersan Ilyasova with 2:13 to go.
“It’s unfortunate that we have to learn a lesson from this game,” said Martell Webster, who scored 15 points after missing two games with a sore back.
“No disrespect to that team that’s over there. Milwaukee’s just is in a dysfunctional state,” he said. “These are games that we know we’re supposed to win by a large margin. In this league, you have to kick them when they’re down.”
“That kind of stemmed the tide a little bit,” Washington coach Randy Wittman said. “Those were big baskets.”
Washington won for the eighth time in nine games.
Wall, Washington’s leading scorer at 19.9 points per game, had 13 assists and seven turnovers. Trevor Ariza scored 17 of his 26 points in the first quarter as the Wizards built a big lead.
“They weren’t really missing (shots), and we didn’t really help ourselves because of a lack of hustle,” said Milwaukee’s Brandon Knight, who scored 25 points.
After dominating the first half, the Wizards missed 13 of 17 shots in the third quarter. Washington scored only 10 points and had seven turnovers in the period.
“We took shortcuts defensively, we just stopped playing,” Wittman said.
Washington made 29 of 43 shots in the first half and took its 71-43 lead on Beal’s 3-pointer with 2:24 left in the second quarter. The Wizards led 75-53 at halftime, a season high in points for the first half.