At some point, it’s not just beginner’s luck.
For the third time since John Wall was declared out for the season due to bone spurs in his heel, Washington hustled one of the league’s very best teams. The Wizards’ latest victims were the Milwaukee Bucks, the Eastern Conference’s leading squad — though one that faced a bad beat with MVP front-runner Giannis Antetokounmpo out of the line-up.
Washington flushed the Bucks 113-106, backed largely by strong showings from ace scorer Bradley Beal (32 points, five rebounds, seven assists) and Tomas Satoransky (18 points and his first ever triple-double). Also getting in on the action with a pair of 20-point showings were Trevor Ariza (20 points, six-of-12 from three) and Jeff Green (20 points, four-of-seven from distance).
The Wizards got off to a hot 16-9 start, scoring on seven of their first eight possessions of the game. In the absence of Giannis, Scott Brooks clearly asked his team to buy in on an effective tactic — running it down Milwaukee’s throat in transition. Washington sprinted down the floor seemingly every possession, taking advantage of the Bucks’ lack of offensive rebounding to comfortably leak out on the break.
Satoransky had a particularly great first quarter: the Czech guard was nearly halfway to a triple-double by the end of Q1, stacking nine points to go with five rebounds and four assists. Bradley Beal has a superb initial frame as well — the hopeful All-Star counted 15 points on five-of-seven shooting during the first period. Washington led 40-26 after one.
Things got sloppy in the second quarter. Washington committed six turnovers over a three-minute span of time, though they managed to prevent the house of cards from falling with help from Milwaukee’s limping offense. The Wizards maintained a 10-point lead at halftime, 57-47, but the advantage still felt somewhat tenuous.
To their credit, the Bucks finally anted up in the third, bringing Mike Budenholzer’s classic pace-and-space offense to fruition in firm fashion. Milwaukee won the third quarter 35-28, parlaying Washington’s numerous shameful turnovers into house money. At the fourth quarter turn, the Bucks had cut the Wizards’ lead to just three.
Luckily for the Wizards, the team simply could not miss from three-point range all night. Washington tied the franchise record for most team threes in a game at 18, knocking them down at a 54.5 percent rate. Relentless deep-range bombs from Trevor Ariza and Jeff Green eventually forced the Bucks to fold, and the Wizards emerged victorious by the comfortable final margin.
Though he struggled with six turnovers, Tomas Satoransky played a simply splendid game on Friday night. He was in complete control during the first quarter, securing defensive boards and dishing out assists on the break. His pushes in transition were a huge part of Washington’s 40-point explosion in the initial frame, and the Bucks never truly recovered from that initial deficit.
It goes without saying, but strong role player performances like this one from Satoransky are a must for the Wizards if they want to make the playoffs. In John Wall’s absence, hopefully Tomas’s confidence only continues to grow (and Ty Lawson won’t be there to take his spot at the end).
In honor of Friday night’s NBC Sports Washington broadcast that featured in-game viewer gambling, we’ve hidden 15 gambling terms and phrases — some better disguised than others — within the recap section of this post. See if you can find them all!