Wizards top Bucks, 118-113
MILWAUKEE — John Wall typically is the Washington Wizards’ crunch-time scorer.
So far this season, it’s been Bradley Beal — and Wall is perfectly happy with that.
Beal scored 14 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, and the Wizards came back from a 13-point deficit to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 118-113 on Friday night.
"He’s taken my role for another night," Wall said. "He stepped up. I made one 3 (in the fourth quarter), but he made some big shots for us."
Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 23 of his 27 points in the first half after returning from a one-game suspension to open the season.
Ramon Sessions scored 11 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter as the explosive offense that coach Randy Wittman envisioned for his team finally materialized. The Wizards were 5 of 12 on 3-pointers in the first three quarters, then went 7 of 9 in the fourth.
"This is the first two games we’ve run this offense in the regular season," Wall said. "In the preseason it’s totally different."
Beal hit a pair of 3-pointers and Sessions made another 3 in a 9-2 run that opened a 111-104 lead with 2 minutes remaining.
Khris Middleton converted a four-point play to bring Milwaukee within 116-113 with 12 seconds to go, but Gary Neal hit a pair of free throws with 10 seconds left to close the scoring.
Wittman wants an up-tempo offense, but the Wizards only scored 88 points in their season-opening victory over Orlando. Trailing by 11 points when Wall returned to the game with 9:11 left in the fourth quarter, Washington outscored the Bucks 34-19 the rest of the way to improve to 2-0.
The porous defense for the second consecutive game concerned Milwaukee coach Jason Kidd.
"We have to take more pride in defense," Kidd said. "We’re trying to outscore people and it’s affecting our defense. We’re not getting stops when we have to, but it goes back to guarding the ball. We’re not guarding the ball."
Wall had 19 points and 10 assists.
Greg Monroe had 22 points and Middleton added 18 for Milwaukee (0-2).
Antetokounmpo was suspended for the first game of the season for a flagrant foul in Game 6 of the Bucks’ playoff series against the Chicago Bulls last season. He slammed Mike Dunleavy into the seats after taking a blow to the neck a play earlier.
He said he was "a little bit sick" about missing the game, but spent the first half making the Wizards queasy. He was 8 of 11 and Milwaukee led 65-61 at halftime.
Washington scored 11 consecutive points to take a 95-94 lead after Beal hit a 3-pointer and thumped his chest in front of the Bucks bench with 6:43 to go. It was the Wizards’ first lead since Marcin Gortat scored the first basket of the game.
Antetokounmpo scored 11 points in the first 8 minutes, despite stepping out of bounds with the ball twice.
Jared Dudley, who had a solid year playing for the Bucks last season, checked into the game early in the second quarter to make his Washington debut and received warm applause. Neal, who played 30 games for the Bucks in 2013-14 and said unflattering things when traded to the Bobcats midway through the season, received a markedly different reception from the crowd. "We don’t miss you!" they chanted.
The Bucks were one of the league’s best defenses last season in winning 41 games. In two games this season, they’ve given up 122 and 118 points. "We won’t beat anybody giving up 120 points," Monroe said. "We have to be better at defense. That’s it."
Bucks: F/C John Henson missed the game to nurse a sore left Achilles. . Johnny O’Bryant started in place of Chris Copeland at power forward.
Bucks: The team plays its first road game on Sunday in Toronto.