The Wizards made defense look fun Monday night, trading feats of athleticism with one of the lankiest and sprightly teams in the NBA. Although Washington collected fewer blocks and steals compared to Milwaukee, its overall defensive prowess proved mightier in the 99-88 win.
“We were aggressive, we were physical, we played with an I.Q.,” Coach Scott Brooks said after Washington held the Bucks to 44.3 percent shooting overall and 18.2 percent from three-point range. “We made them take the shots that we wanted them to take.”
Inside BMO Harris Bradley Center, there were no chants of “MVP” serenading Milwaukee’s breakout star Giannis Antetokounmpo — the Wizards (10-7) largely silenced him in an 8-for-21 shooting night for 23 points. While Antetokounmpo, the second-leading scorer in the league, looked more mortal than ‘Greek Freak’ with his jump shot by missing his three attempts from beyond the arc, Bradley Beal made history. Not only did Beal (23 points) lead Washington’s balanced attack with six players scoring in double figures, he became the youngest player in league history to reach 700 career three-pointers. Beal, at 24 years 145 days old, hit the history-maker at the 10:57 mark of the third quarter.
Besides his defensive moment, Wall, who returned to the lineup after sitting out Sunday with a sore knee, scored 15 points on 5-for-13 shooting to go with six assists.
“I was great. I was cool,” Wall said about his health. “I missed some easy, early shots but I was fine.”
Wall doesn’t need to be a biometeorologist to understand how weather affects health. He knows his body and understands this simple truth: His sore left knee doesn’t do well in cold temperatures.
The rest Sunday night likely helped, but Mother Nature and the arena’s heating and cooling system deserved assists as well. The Wizards visited Milwaukee during an unusually warm day, as temperatures peaked at 51 degrees. Inside, the arena climate seemed neutral — not exceptionally warm but not an ice box either.
Wall explained he was able to play in previous games after getting his knee drained because his body felt warm.
“There wasn’t too much fluid, and I guess the arena we were in, I was warm, so it warmed me up,” said Wall, who played two home games inside Capital One Arena after the draining procedure and one in Miami. “Friday, it just never warmed up. It kept getting stiffer and stiffer throughout the game.”
The Wizards share Capital One Arena with their NHL neighbor, the Washington Capitals. Much like other major facilities, the arena has ice under the hardwood. And while the Capitals left for a road trip last week and the Wizards hosted the Sacramento Kings on Nov. 13, the arena did not feel as frigid as it could have been. But on Friday, the Wizards played at home again with the Capitals needing the arena the next night, and Wall felt a significant drop in the temperature.
“When Friday came, I guess it just [got swollen] and it just got super stiff to where I couldn’t even move,” Wall said Monday.
Despite his double knee surgery a year ago, Wall did not experience similar issues during his career season in 2016-17. Wall has not been able to pinpoint the root of the swelling this season.
On Nov. 11, Wall received two bags of intravenous fluids to help with an illness, and soon the swelling in his knee started. Although the timeline had previously led Wall to call into question whether the IVs had caused his knee to swell, now he can’t say for certain.
“I didn’t really deal with it last year after my surgery. It was fine. I don’t know where it came from,” Wall said. “Hopefully, it’s just I had too many bags of IVs and then it just rushed down to my knee but other than that, I had no knee problems and no pain before I got the IVs. That might have a little something to do with it but I’m not 100 percent sure, so I don’t want to blame it on that if it’s not the right answer.”
Otto Porter Jr. played Monday despite his sore right wrist. When he checked out of the game in the fourth quarter, Porter grimaced while holding his wrist but it did not hinder him from collecting a double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds). One night after flirting with triple-double status, center Marcin Gortat finished with 10 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. Kelly Oubre Jr. shot 6 for 8 from the field with three threes and scored 18 in his reserve role.