Bucks fend off Wizards, 91-85

Bucks center Zaza Pachulia (27) gets pressure from Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. (22) and forward Nene Hilario (42) in the first quarter at BMO Harris Bradley Center on Saturday night.

Benny Sieu/Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

MILWAUKEE — Khris Middleton wasn’t going to let Zaza Pachulia’s tough offensive rebound go to waste.

The Milwaukee center got to Middleton’s missed 3, then somehow maneuvered around a double team to flip a pass back to an open Middleton.

He didn’t miss this time.

Middleton scored a career-best 30 points and hit the key 3-pointer from the corner with 40.8 seconds left, and Milwaukee snapped a four-game losing streak with a 91-85 victory over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night.

‘"Z’ comes up with a big rebound and makes a heck of a pass to Khris. Khris didn’t even hesitate to knock down that shot," coach Jason Kidd said.

Paul Pierce missed a 3 on Washington’s next possession and Jared Bayless hit two foul shots with 22.2 seconds left to give the Bucks a five-point lead. Pierce also went 1 of 2 from the foul line with 17.6 seconds left.

It was an important win for a young Bucks team after nearly squandering a 60-43 lead with 8:50 left in the third quarter.

"It was a step in the right direction," Middleton said.

Washington finished the quarter with a 20-5 run to cut it to 65-63 going into the fourth quarter. Garrett Temple scored eight of his 11 points in the third.

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It was neck-and-neck the rest of the way between two teams vying for playoff positioning in the middle of the Eastern Conference.

Middleton was a difference-maker after shooting 11 of 20, including 6 of 9 from 3-point range. He also grabbed nine rebounds.

"He is their designated shooter and we know that. We should have done a better job concentrating our effort on him, running him off the three-point line," Pierce said. He led the Wizards with 14 points, but was 4 of 15 from the field.

John Wall had 11 points, nine rebounds and six assists, but was 3 of 14 from the field.

"I think (Wall) is a little bit fatigued," coach Randy Wittman said. "Sometimes that happens. That will bounce back."

Bayless added 13 points for the Bucks off the bench.

A better first quarter might have put Washington in better position at night’s end. Middleton scored 14 points in the first on 6-of-7 shooting, and the Bucks took a 30-19 lead.

"We let him get too comfortable early," Wittman said.