Wizards aim for winning record in meeting with Bucks
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Washington Wizards can join some rarified air Friday night if they can topple the visiting Milwaukee Bucks at the Verizon Center.
The Wizards can join the Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat as the only teams in the Eastern Conference with a winning record. (The Atlanta Hawks can also nab a winning mark with a win at home Friday over the Cleveland Cavaliers.)
At 9-9, Washington is third in the East and has won two in a row and seven of the last nine. Friday's game will be the third of a four-game homestand, where the Wizards are 6-2 this season.
Washington has beaten Atlanta and Orlando during this stay in D.C.
On Monday, the Wizards squashed the Magic, 98-80. Trevor Ariza led the way with 24 points on a perfect 4-for-4 night from beyond the arc and John Wall had 16 points and 13 assists.
The Wiz are playing great basketball without Bradley Beal (fibula) and Al Harrington (knee). They may get a boost Friday night when Otto Porter, the third pick in this summer's draft, could return from a hip flexor injury that hasn't allowed him to see an NBA court yet.
"I feel good," said Porter. "I feel like I'm getting more in shape. I'm building my confidence back. No pressure at all. I'm not going to come in a and change anything. I'm going to come in and continue to keep the team winning."
The Bucks have dropped two straight since only their third win of the season on Saturday. Milwaukee lost in Boston on Tuesday, then fell at home to the Detroit Pistons, 105-98 Wednesday.
The Bucks are still without starting center Larry Sanders, backup center Zaza Pachulia and forwards Caron Butler and Carlos Delfino, all of whom are listed as out for Friday.
Against the Pistons, the Bucks squandered a five-point halftime lead and were blown out in the third quarter to the tune of 35-17. They held the Pistons to 38.4 percent shooting for the night, but only managed 39.6 percent for themselves and committed 17 turnovers, which surrendered 22 points for Detroit.
The Pistons starting frontline of Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond combined for 42 rebounds, which was one less than the Bucks collected as a team.
"We were going into this game really concerned about our matchups. With both Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, and Josh Smith at the three, we just felt they were too big," Bucks head coach Larry Drew admitted.
Ersan Ilyasova led five Bucks in double figures with 22 points.
The Wizards beat the Bucks, 100-92 in overtime on Nov. 27 in Milwaukee. They have taken three straight against Milwaukee and two of three in Washington.
12/06 10:34:42 ET