John Wall and the Washington Wizards are coming off one of their most impressive wins of the season as they look to remain perfect in the second half of back-to-back games.
That could be a problem for the surprising Milwaukee Bucks, who will complete a stretch of four games in five nights after their worst loss of the season.
Wall looks to help the Wizards improve to 4-0 in the second half of games on consecutive nights Saturday when they visit the Bucks.
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Washington (8-3) cruised past Cleveland 91-78 on Friday. Wall was the catalyst thanks to his play in odd-numbered quarters with nine points in the first and 17 in the third as the Wizards held the Cavaliers to 36.0 percent shooting – a season-low for an opponent.
Wall recovered from Wednesday’s 105-102 loss to Dallas in which he made 5 of 17 shots for 11 points. He finished with 28 against Cleveland.
"John started (well), obviously bouncing back," coach Randy Wittman said. "He wasn’t happy with his last game against Dallas. He was really aggressive from the start."
Wall is averaging 26.3 points and 8.7 assists on the second half of back-to-backs, with the Wizards beating losing teams in Orlando and Indiana twice.
"In this league, you get a good win, you want to follow it up," Wittman said. "We’ve got a chance with a back-to-back going to Milwaukee to really make this a good week for us, win two out of the three."
Milwaukee (7-6) likely presents a more formidable opponent than the Magic and Pacers, though the Bucks were beaten 108-97 at Washington in the first meeting Nov. 1.
That marked the first time Paul Pierce got to face Jason Kidd, the man who coached him last season in Brooklyn. It ended in ignominious fashion for Pierce, who was ejected in the first half.
The Wizards were without an injured Bradley Beal in that contest. Beal has returned to average 16.5 points in two games off the bench after being out following left wrist surgery.
Beal’s 24.8 scoring average against Milwaukee is his highest against any Eastern Conference foe.
The Bucks entered play Friday with the NBA’s highest-scoring bench, averaging 46.0 points. Milwaukee ran into a buzzsaw in losing 124-83 at Toronto, setting season lows in points and field-goal percentage (36.5). Its reserves matched their average with 46 points, though little else went right as the club trailed by as many as 52.
”They embarrassed us,” forward Jared Dudley said. ”Early on we were a little sluggish. They came out and executed.”
Milwaukee swept a back-to-back set Tuesday at home over New York and Wednesday in triple overtime at Brooklyn. Kidd said fatigue was not an excuse.
”We didn’t do anything but travel yesterday, so I don’t think that was an issue,” he said.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, who injured his right ankle in the win against the Nets, was not expected to play after testing the injury during pregame warmups. He scored seven points in 15 first-half minutes and sat out the second half.
The Bucks seek their first four-game home win streak since the first four games of 2011-12.