Bucks-Wizards Preview

John Wall and the Washington Wizards are set to open their home schedule after evening their record last time out.

The Milwaukee Bucks are also coming off a much-improved display.

Washington tries to avoid losing a fourth consecutive home opener when it faces the Bucks on Saturday night.

The Wizards kicked off their season with Wednesday’s 107-95 loss at Miami, but they bounced back with a 105-98 victory at Orlando the following night. Wall led the way with 30 points and 12 assists after finishing with 16 and 11 against the Heat.

"I’m basically the head of the snake on the offensive and defensive end, so (against Miami) we didn’t have the same kind of intensity," Wall said. "I knew we couldn’t go into the season 0-2, so I’m going to come out with more energy and play better on the defensive end."

Marcin Gortat had 20 points and 12 rebounds while Paul Pierce scored 16, including two key buckets down the stretch.

"That’s what I’m capable of giving this team – another guy you can go to in crucial situations," Pierce said. "As each game goes along, each practice, and as we continue to build our chemistry, we have to find ways to win. We are still getting to know each other and these types of games we have to grind out."

Pierce will see a familiar face across the way in former Brooklyn coach Jason Kidd, who was acquired by Milwaukee in exchange for two second-round picks this offseason.

While Kidd watched his team blow a 24-point lead in the second half of Wednesday’s season-opening 108-106 overtime loss at Charlotte, the Bucks regrouped Friday with a 93-81 win over Philadelphia. O.J. Mayo scored a game-high 25 points off the bench while rookie Jabari Parker finished with 11 and 10 rebounds.

Milwaukee trailed by one heading into the fourth quarter before holding the 76ers to seven points. The Bucks pulled away with an 11-0 run over the final eight minutes.

"Being a young team and playing through it and finding a way to grind a win out – that’s what good teams have to do in this league, so we’re going in the right direction," Kidd said.

Larry Sanders had 15 rebounds for Milwaukee, which held a 55-42 edge on the glass and limited Philadelphia to 37.2 percent shooting.

"It’s trusting one another out there and doing everything with energy and effort," Mayo said. "Energy and effort will help us out a lot."

The Bucks couldn’t come to terms with Brandon Knight, who is in the fourth and final year of his rookie contract. Knight, averaging 17.5 points while shooting 28.0 percent in the first two games, is set to become a restricted free agent at season’s end.

"It’s not a negative. It can only be a positive," Kidd said. "I think that’s the positive for him to grow as a player."

Knight is averaging 21.0 points during a four-game stretch against Washington, which has averaged 105.2 in taking five of six in the series.

The Wizards have dropped their last three home openers by an average of 5.3 points, including a surprising 109-102 defeat to Philadelphia last Nov. 1.

The Bucks have gone 5-37 on the road since the start of last season for the NBA’s second-worst mark.