Middleton scored 14 points in the final quarter, giving the Wizards trouble off the dribble and from the perimeter.
Washington got within three when John Wall made two free throws with 1:36 left. But Middleton answered again, hitting a jumper in the lane on the next possession before setting up a drive-and-dish to Greg Monroe that gave the Bucks a 97-90 lead with 15 seconds left. Middleton tied a season high with nine assists.
Bradley Beal scored 19 points for the Wizards, and Wall had 15 points and 10 assists.
The Wizards go into the All-Star break 3-7 in their last 10 games.
The Bucks will take a modest but badly-needed two-game winning streak into the break. At 22-32, Milwaukee needs to inch back closer to .500 before it can start thinking about making a run at a second straight playoff appearance.
At least the Bucks gained confidence from the win after the lead see-sawed much of the night against Washington.
Sparked by better defense, the Wizards rallied from an 11-point deficit late in the second quarter to turn it into a tight contest after halftime.
Milwaukee used a 25-5 surge in an eight-minute span to help build a 55-44 lead with 45 seconds left in the second quarter. Jabari Parker scored 12 points during that quarter, when the Bucks made their run using primarily a three-guard lineup that attacked with the ball.
Middleton made the clutch plays in the end to spark the win.
Washington: Wall had his 30th double-double of the season. … The Wizards went 0 of 10 from the field with three turnovers during the Bucks’ second-quarter run.
Milwaukee: Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry is taking part in the All-Star celebrity game Friday in Toronto. Asked before the game if the boss was ready, coach Jason Kidd said with a straight face: “That’s a very good question. We’ll see if he needs the asthma inhaler.” … O.J. Mayo was assessed a flagrant foul after Washington’s Otto Porter Jr. fell hard to the floor on a layup attempt with 10 minutes left in the third quarter.
That general manager, unless it was Bob Myers in the first place, has company.
Chris Broussard of ESPN on Durant:
There are people in Golden State that think they’re getting him.
People in management, and I think some players, too.
Blind optimism? Definitely possible.
Echo-chamber participation? Totally conceivable.
Genuine insight? Also believable.
It’s that last possibility that makes this so intriguing. Durant has reportedly researched the Bay Area, and why shouldn’t that include back-channel talks between his people and the Warriors? Golden State definitely could have legitimate reason to believe Durant is coming.
One reason this is so important: The Warriors don’t have enough cap space to re-sign Durant. What lengths they’ll travel to clear it depends on their perceived odds of signing him.
Whether or not Golden State actually gets Durant – count me in the camp that believes he hasn’t made a decision – this belief he’ll sign with the Warriors could definitely influence the rest of their offseason and maybe even smaller moves before the trade deadline.
TORONTO (AP) Shaquille O’Neal should be a lock. Yao Ming and Allen Iverson could join him.
Two larger-than-life big men and one of basketball’s most exciting little guys highlight the list of players, coaches and contributors who are eligible for induction this year into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
O’Neal and Iverson must get past an extra step by first being chosen as finalists Friday at a press conference during the NBA’s All-Star weekend festivities. If they do, they would then require 18 votes from the 24-member Honors Committee, as do all nominees from the North American and Women’s Committees.
But Yao was nominated by the Hall’s International Committee, recognized as much for his impact in the growth of basketball in his native China as his play in the NBA. That committee elects players directly to the Hall.
The class of 2016 will be unveiled April 4 in Houston on the day of the NCAA championship game, and the enshrinement ceremony is set for Sept. 9 in Springfield, Massachusetts.
O’Neal, Yao and Iverson earned a chance to be a part of it after a recent rule change that made players eligible for nomination after four full seasons of retirement. Previously, they had to wait five years, which meant they were actually six years removed from their playing days by the time they could take their place in the birthplace of basketball.
O’Neal won four NBA championships, an MVP award and is in the league’s top 10 in career scoring. Iverson, just 6-feet tall, won four scoring titles and was the league’s MVP in 2001, when his 48-performance for Philadelphia in Game 1 of the NBA Finals handed O’Neal’s Lakers their only loss of the most dominant postseason in NBA history.
Yao doesn’t have as impressive a resume, his career cut short by multiple foot injuries. But the 7-foot-6 center lasted long enough to make an enormous impact on and off the court after being selected No. 1 overall in 2002.
A look at some others who could be Springfield-bound in September:
JERRY KRAUSE: On the 20th anniversary of the Chicago Bulls compiling the best record in NBA history, perhaps it’s time to honor the executive who was one of the architects of the six-time champions?
TOM IZZO: The way he consistently gets his Michigan State teams to peak in March, don’t be surprised if he’s got a game to coach in Houston when the class he should be in appears during Final Four weekend.
SHERYL SWOOPES: The first player signed by the WNBA went on to win three MVP awards and four championships in the league, but it was her 47-point performance in leading Texas Tech to the 1993 NCAA championship that many think of first when talking about one of the greats of women’s basketball.
MARV ALBERT: Already a Hall of Famer as a broadcaster, Albert, like Krause, is now nominated by the Contributor Committee that directly elects to the Hall. Should he be honored again? As Albert might exclaim while calling a game, “YES!!”
DARELL GARRETSON: He officiated more than 2,000 games in the NBA and spent 17 years as the league’s chief of officiating. There aren’t many easy calls for referees, but this seems an easy call about one.
Satnam Singh, the Mavericks No. 52 pick in the 2015 draft, was the first player drafted directly from high school in a decade.
Another, much higher-profile, high schooler could follow his path.
The NBA’s “one-and-done” rule effectively prohibited anyone from jumping from high school to the NBA. Amir Johnson, whom the Pistons drafted No. 56 in 2005, was the last high school player drafted before the rule was implemented.
But Singh spent five years at IMG Academy in Florida and was eligible. Now, another IMG player wants to follow a similar path.
In a decision that could signal a new avenue to the NBA for elite American basketball players, Top 10 high school prospect Jonathan Isaac told Sports Illustrated on Friday that he will explore declaring for the 2016 NBA draft directly from prep school.
Isaac, a 6’10” small forward from IMG (Fla.) Academy, said in a phone interview that he expects to take advantage of a new rule that allows prospects to enter the NBA draft and return to college if they don’t feel good about their projected draft position. The new rule allows Isaac to participate in the NBA draft combine, hold an NBA workout and pull out of the draft without compromising his amateur standing at Florida State, where he’s signed to play next season.
Isaac, 18, and IMG officials expect that he’ll be eligible for the 2016 NBA draft because he started high school in 2011, which would make him one year removed from his initial graduating class. Isaac did not graduate from high school in 2015, but IMG officials expect he’d be eligible because former IMG player Satnam Singh had a similar circumstance and was eligible for the 2015 Draft.
Isaac is a potential first-rounder. The new rule doesn’t affect his ability to declare for the draft, but rather his ability to withdraw and play for Florida state IF he declares for the draft.
The bigger question: Can he declare for the draft?
The relevant requirement in the Collective Bargaining Agreement:
The player (A) is or will be at least nineteen (19) years of age during the calendar year in which the Draft is held, and (B) with respect to a player who is not an international player (defined below), at least one (1) NBA Season has elapsed since the player’s graduation from high school (or, if the player did not graduate from high school, since the graduation of the class with which the player would have graduated had he graduated from high school
Isaac turns 19 in October, so he’d meet the age requirement. He also hasn’t graduated high school, so he could claim his class graduated last year – four years after entering high school.
However, that argument works only if he doesn’t graduate this spring. If he does, that takes precedence over his class’s graduation, and he’d have to wait another year to declare for the draft.
As crazy as this sounds, Isaac will have more options for his professional future by NOT graduating high school.
This passage in the Collective Bargaining Agreement should probably be changed in the next edition.
It’s also difficult to tell how this situation compares with Singh. Although academics kept him from receiving college scholarships, Singh graduated from IMG, according to his father. Perhaps, Singh didn’t actually graduate. A quote from his dad isn’t a verified transcript.
No matter how Singh got to the draft, Isaac and those close to him at IMG should know the details of the path.
Now, it’s a question whether Isaac can and will follow.