Ariza admitted earlier in the week that his adjustment to the Wizards has been the lengthiest of his career. He has struggled to find comfort within the offense and confidence about when to shoot or pass.
Against Milwaukee, Ariza didn’t bother thinking about what he was going to do in advance and just played. He scored a season-high 15 points — four more than the 11 he scored in the previous three games combined — and added eight rebounds and four assists. Ariza also connected with Trevor Booker (11 points) for nice alley-oop in the fourth quarter.
Okafor finally appeared in the fourth quarter after watching the previous three final periods from the bench. He scored a season-high 11 points with six rebounds and three blocked shots.
The Wizards’ reserves had delivered in the first three games, with the leading scorer emerging from the bench but Kevin Seraphin’s string of 18 consecutive games in double-figures came to a close on Friday when he was limited to just two points on 1-of-5 field goals. Jordan Crawford, who is still recovering from a sprained left ankle, had eight points.
“That’s been our problem so far. We haven’t been able to put a total team effort together. But we’ll rectify it,” said Price, who will face the team he represented for the first three years of his career on Saturday. “That’s one I definitely want to win. I relayed that to my guys. They already know that. We need a win as a team, so it’s a big game for us.”
Beal is hopeful that he will be around to help, but he was smarting afterward about how the situation escalated. After exchanging words with Jennings (12 points), Beal had a few more for players on the Bucks’ bench before he exited to cheers from supportive fans.
Jennings was “defending his teammate, came up and pushed me, but it’s just all a part of basketball. It’s physical but it is what it is,” Beal said. “I just have to deal with it.”
Crawford thought the whole incident was empty bluster.
“Just a lot of pretending going on. A lot of pretending,” Crawford said.