NBA: Middleton scores 51 as Giannis-less Bucks blast Wizards

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at Jan 29 2020 01:23 PM

Milwaukee Bucks forward Khris Middleton (22) drives for the basket against Washington Wizards forward Isaac Bonga (17) during the second quarter at Fiserv Forum. Jeff Hanisch, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters.

Khris Middleton scored a career-high 51 points, Milwaukee recorded a franchise-record 88 first-half points, and the Bucks held off a second-half surge to beat the visiting Washington Wizards 151-131 on Tuesday.

Despite playing without reigning Most Valuable Player Giannis Antetokounmpo, who missed the contest to rest a sore right shoulder, Milwaukee burst to a season-best 42 first-quarter points.

The victory was the Bucks' ninth straight, and Milwaukee improved the best record in the NBA to 41-6. Washington fell for the sixth time in eight games.

The Bucks came into the matchup boasting the NBA's highest-scoring offense, and they dictated the tone early against a Washington defense that ranks last in the league in points allowed.

The 88 points smashed Milwaukee's previous season high of 76 first-half points set just 12 days ago prior in a 128-123 defeat of the Boston Celtics, and it marked a league high dating back to Houston's 90 on Nov. 16, 2017.

Milwaukee's 151 total points were a season high and fell just seven points shy of the franchise's regulation record. The Bucks hit the previous season mark of 137 points twice, most recently in a 41-point rout of the Charlotte Hornets on Nov. 30.

Eric Bledsoe complemented Middleton's scoring outburst with 34 points and 10 assists. Donte DiVincenzo and Robin Lopez scored 16 and 10 points, respectively, off the bench. Middleton also had 10 rebounds and six assists.

Milwaukee's lead to swelled to as many as 32 points in the second quarter, but a 41-point third quarter kept Washington in striking distance in the second half.

Bradley Beal scored 47 points to pace the Wizards. Behind Beal's season-high tally, Washington chipped away at the gap over the course of the late second quarter and into the third and fourth.

A three-point play from Thomas Bryant, who finished with 18 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, pulled Washington within seven points midway through the fourth quarter.

Milwaukee held Washington off down the stretch, pushing the lead back to 18 points in the final two minutes on back-to-back DiVincenzo 3-pointers.

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