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Wizards whiz to 111-100 win over Bucks

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MILWAUKEE — Starting the week with a three-game winning streak that opened eyes around the league, the Milwaukee Bucks have quickly fallen back to reality — and to .500.

One night after suffering a 42-point drubbing at the hands of the Eastern Conference’s best team, the Bucks let one slip away against the East’s second-best team, dropping a 111-100 decision to the Washington Wizards at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Paul Pierce led the way for the Wizards, hitting 5 of 6 shots from the field and three 3-pointers for 14 second-half points — giving him a team-leading 25 for the game.

Washington also got 19 points from point guard John Wall, 17 from guard Bradley Beal and 12 from Kris Humphries.

Milwaukee got 27 points from point guard Brandon Knight and a career-high 20 from forward Giannis Antetokounmpo but struggled to keep up with the Wizards on the boards, where Washington held a 53-36 advantage.

“Last night, we got outrebounded on both ends and tonight it was the same way,” Bucks coach Jason Kidd said. “They just kind of bullied us under the boards, got second and third opportunities, which turned the game in their favor.”

Those extra opportunities led to 17 points in the second half for Washington, which hit seven of its eight second-chance attempts.

“You can’t win like that,” Kidd said. “When you give up that many second-chance points, you’re not going to win too many games.”

Milwaukee showed few signs of a lingering funk from Friday night, hitting 12 of 23 shots from the field to take a 28-21 lead through one quarter.

The Bucks kept the pressure on in the second quarter and went into halftime up by five points. They got 12 points from point guard Brandon Knight, 10 from forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and 14 points off 12 Washington turnovers.

The Wizards, who also played Friday night, snapped out of an early funk in the second half and tied the score at 54 on a Pierce 3-pointer with 8:49 left in the third quarter, part of an 18-4 Washington run that made it 65-56 with 5:19 left.

“We were able to right the ship in the second quarter,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “We went small and got us back in and at halftime down five, then we played the way we were capable of playing and our defense took care of our offense.”

Washington outscored Milwaukee 27-18 in the third quarter and took a 74-70 lead into the fourth.

“This group has matured,” Wittman said. “The last couple of years, if we would have started a game like this, we might not have been able to recover from it. I told them at halftime, we can’t get the first half back … but we can control what we did in the next 24 minutes and I thought they did a really good job.”

The Bucks fell behind by as many as 13 in the fourth quarter but challenged late, getting within seven points after a jumper by forward Ersan Ilyasova with 2:13 to play. But Pierce responded with a 25-footer to snuff out the comeback bid.

“You can’t make the excuse of back-to-back games, but it is what it is,” Ilyasova said. “It comes with experience, and we just have to learn from it. Moving forward, we have to know what we need to do to win the games.”

Milwaukee has lost two in a row. Washington has won two straight and five of its last six.

NOTES: Nene played just six minutes Saturday and had to leave the game in the first quarter with a right foot injury. … The NBA corrected a scoring error in the Bucks’ loss at Toronto on Friday night. F John Henson was mistakenly credited with a 3-pointer when he connected on a short jumper from the lane with 1:44 left to play. As a result, the Bucks actually lost 124-82 to the Raptors and Henson finished with six points. … Washington’s bench has averaged 46.7 points in the Wizards’ last four games. …. Bucks F Giannis Antetokounmpo was back in the starting lineup Saturday and scored a career-high 20 points. He came off the bench Friday night and played 15 minutes after suffering ankle sprain Wednesday at Brooklyn. … In three games since returning to the Wizards Nov. 19, G Bradley Beal is averaging 16.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.7 assists. Beal missed the first nine games of the season with a fractured left wrist.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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