MILWAUKEE — When the Milwaukee Bucks needed a big play, Ersan Ilyasova was there to bail out Brandon Jennings.
Ilyasova tipped in Jennings’ miss with 2.2 seconds left and the Bucks beat Washington 119-118 on Tuesday night, handing the Wizards their fifth consecutive loss.
“That gave me a lot of relief knowing that Ersan was there to clean up the mess,” Jennings said, aptly describing his play in the final seconds.
Milwaukee’s point guard dribbled the ball off his foot with 12 seconds left, then allowed John Wall to get by him and score on a running, 8-foot jumper for a 118-117 Wizards lead with 6.8 seconds to go.
After a timeout, Jennings took an inbounds pass and drove left of the lane, attempting a short jumper. It bounced off the rim, but Ilyasova had position and tipped in the miss for the winning points.
Washington’s Chris Singleton had come across the lane and left Ilyasova open in an attempt to double-team Jennings. But that left the Bucks forward in position for an easy tip-in with no one to block him out.
“I found myself open,” Ilyasova said. “I tipped it in and we won the game. It was the right spot for me.”
Roger Mason Jr. received an inbounds pass on the baseline for Washington but was called for traveling with 1 second to go without getting off a shot.
“I feel bad for our guys that I missed that opportunity,” he said. “I have had a bunch of those end-of-the-game situations and I have hit a bunch of them. This is the first time not coming through.”
Mike Dunleavy scored a season-high 28 points for the Bucks, who snapped a six-game losing streak at home.
Jennings finished with 14 points and 10 assists. Drew Gooden, who returned after missing four games with a sprained right wrist, had 15 points and 10 rebounds but landed hard on his back in the third quarter and did not return.
Trevor Booker scored 20 points while Wall and Jordan Crawford added 19 apiece for Washington.
Milwaukee opened a 22-point lead in the first half, but Washington hit six 3-pointers in the third quarter to get back in the game.
The comeback occurred after Wizards coach Randy Wittman benched starting center JaVale McGee in the second half and played leading scorer Nick Young for less than 5 minutes after halftime.
“We played guys who wanted to play defense in the second half,” Wittman said.
Wittman was critical of his younger players.
“I am done with young guys,” he said. “If they don’t want to play the right way, the young guys aren’t going to play. They are not learning anything when they play the way they want to play.
“It doesn’t do us any good,” Wittman added. “You get no development out of them if they are going in and playing the way they want to play and the way they did in that first half. … They are not developing. All they are developing is bad habits. I went with guys that I knew that were going to go out there and bust their rear ends and try to do things the right way in the second half.”
Bucks coach Scott Skiles blamed his team’s defense for allowing the Wizards to mount a comeback.
“It’s not open for a debate,” Skiles said of his team’s defense. “It’s real. It happens.”
Dunleavy made a pair of free throws with 1:21 left to give Milwaukee a 117-114 lead before Booker drove the lane and scored on a dunk to bring the Wizards within 117-116 with 1:05 to go.
Dunleavy and Jennings each missed 3-point attempts on the next possession, but Booker missed a tip on the other end.
Jennings drove to the basket but dribbled the ball off his foot with 12 seconds left, giving Washington a chance to win the game.
Wall scored to give the Wizards a brief lead before Ilyasova’s clutch tip-in.
Washington erased a 14-point halftime deficit and took an 81-79 lead when Maurice Evans stripped Carlos Delfino and sprinted to a breakaway layup with 4:16 to go in the third quarter.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute scored on a rebound with 1 second left to give Milwaukee a 92-89 lead after three quarters.
Milwaukee took its biggest lead, 55-33, on Dunleavy’s 3-pointer with 5:35 left in the second. The Bucks ran off 13 consecutive points in the 30-12 run to open a commanding cushion.
Dunleavy had 16 points in the second quarter, including four 3-pointers, and Milwaukee took a 67-53 advantage into halftime.
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