Beal had his second game of the season with at least 30 points. He averaged more than 30 in each of the past two seasons.
Known for much of his career as a scorer, Beal felt that defense was the key tonight as Washington held an opponent under 100 points for the second straight game and third time this season.
“We made it tough on them,” Beal said after the Wizards limited the Bucks to 39% shooting.
“I feel like I played a playoff game tonight,” Beal later added.
At 7-3 Washington is off to it’s best start since the 2014-15 season.
“I think we’ve been able to pull together relatively quickly with so many pieces,” first-year coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. “It’s a lot to ask but for the most part our guys have been great with our effort and locked in with what we are trying to do.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo had 29 points and 18 rebounds for the defending champion Bucks. They have lost five of six to drop to 4-6.
Corey Kispert’s made jumper with 2:54 left in the third gave Washington a 77-67 lead. It was Washington’s first double-digit lead since early in the first. Gafford had 10 points in the quarter.
Washington led 82-71 after the third. The Wizards shot 56% in the quarter and held the Bucks to just 33% to break open a back-and-forth game that saw seven ties and 18 lead changes.
Milwaukee led 52-49 at halftime despite falling in an immediate 12-0 hole to start the game. Washington had 11 turnovers in the first half and finished with 19.
Bucks: Antetokounmpo moved past Sidney Moncrief into second place on Milwaukee’s assists list with three in the first half and now has 2,691. Paul Pressey is first with 3,272. … Milwaukee was assessed a technical foul in the second quarter — and had a field goal disallowed — for playing with six players. … F Khris Middleton, Milwaukee’s second-leading scorer, missed his fourth straight game after testing positive for COVID-19. Players must sit out a minimum of 10 days after a positive test.
Wizards: Beal missed his only free throw of the game. It was his first miss of the season after making all 35 through eight games. ... Washington had eight turnovers in the first quarter. … Spencer Dinwiddie scored six points on 2-of-8 shooting but his 3-pointer with 20 seconds left helped seal the game.
WHITE HOUSE VISIT
The Bucks will visit the White House on Monday to celebrate their NBA title.
“It doesn’t happen every day,” Budenholzer said. “I think the players will look forward to it. Tomorrow will be a great memory."
Antetokounmpo played a season-high 39 minutes and afterward Budenholzer admitted that his star wanted to stay on the floor longer than usual.
“Giannis was in that mindset that he wanted to play a lot,” Budenholzer said. “It’s on me to keep him in a good place. I love his spirit tonight.”
Washington honored franchise great and Hall of Famer Bob Dandridge throughout the game, which included a halftime tribute on the video board. Dandridge played for the Washington Bullets for four seasons (1977-81) and was a key part of the 1978 championship team. Dandridge was drafted by Milwaukee in 1969 and played nine seasons in total for the Bucks, winning a title in 1971. The 73-year-old Dandridge was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in September.
Bucks: At Philadelphia on Tuesday night.
Wizards: At Cleveland on Wednesday night.
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