John Wall lifts short-handed Wizards over Bucks

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Sports,NBA,Wizards,Craig Stouffer

The fewer guards available, the better John Wall seems to play.

One night after putting up a season-best 27 points and 14 assists in a loss at Cleveland, Wall played a season-high 43 minutes in a 106-93 victory over Milwaukee for a Washington team even more depleted than it has been of late.

Rookie guard Bradley Beal, who missed his fifth straight game with a sprained left ankle, was joined on the bench by backup point guard A.J. Price, who was scratched with a sore right groin.

Wall responded by helping the Wizards (21-42) race out to as much as a 20-point lead just after halftime. When it turned into a three-point deficit at the end of the third quarter, he played all 12 minutes down to stretch it push it back to double digits again.

"I just told him I thought this was one of his better games in sustaining the pace of game," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "... We're not made up right now to be a walk it up, slug it out, grind it out team."

Wall combined his familiar top speed - blowing by the Bucks (32-31) even after made shots - with heads up play in transition, finding Martell Webster (20 points) and Garrett Temple (13 points in a season-high 41 minutes) for open shots while committing just two turnovers.

Wall also had four steals and knocked down a 3-pointer for the second straight game, shooting 10-for-19 from the field. He's averaged 19.6 points and 8.0 assists during Beal's absence.

"When I was thinking about pace, I thought it was pushing every time and loking for an easy shot. Just listening to Coach Witt talk and watching film with him, pace is just how we push it up. Maybe I'll throw it ahead and somebody else got an easy basket or push it ahead and throw it to the post, just get the defense moving."

After leading 60-44 at half, the Wizards did put it the game into cruise control, and heading into one timeout during Milwaukee's 28-7 run, Wittman and Wall had an animated exchange though neither seemed to let it get the best of him.

"That's coaching. Hey, I love that," Wittman said. "That's what this game is all about."

The seemingly playoff-bound Bucks arrived having won six out of eight games and got 26 points and eight assists from Monta Ellis. Ersan Ilyasova also had 21 points and 12 rebounds but was hampered by foul trouble and matched inside by Nene (13 points, 13 rebounds, six assists) and Trevor Booker, who came off the Wizards bench for his performance of the season, 13 points and 12 boards.

"We really didn't panic," Booker said. "In the past, we would definitely panic, but we actually stayed calm this time. It was something new for me because we actually stayed calm. That's a good sign for us."

The Bucks' frustration peaked when Wall drew a charge from Larry Sanders (17 points, 11 rebounds), who proceed to argue his way into a pair of technical fouls to earn an ejection and saluted each of the three referees on his way off the court.

cstouffer@washingtonexaminer.com

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