Jordan Crawford equaled a season-high with 32 points, and John Wall had 14 points and 10 assists Wednesday night as the Washington Wizards dealt the Milwaukee Bucks a crucial 121-112 defeat in their attempt for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Milwaukee began the day 1 1/2 games behind Philadelphia for eighth place in the East, but lost a game as the Sixers won in Cleveland.
The Bucks had the previous three days off while the Sixers were completing their third game in three nights.
Monta Ellis had 31 points for Milwaukee, which has lost four of five, while Brandon Jennings had 25 points and Drew Gooden added 21 points and 12 rebounds.
Nene and Kevin Seraphin both had 14 points for Washington, which has won four of six. On Monday, the Wizards beat Eastern Conference-leading Chicago on the road.
Nene missed the previous 10 games with a left foot injury. His return was announced by the team on Twitter 10 minutes before the game. He converted a three-point play with 7:50 to play to give Washington a 99-87 lead.
The Bucks closed within 112-109 on Jennings' 3-pointer with 1:14 to play, but the Wizards held on.
Ersan Ilyasova had 13 points and Ellis scored 10 in the first quarter to help Milwaukee take a 31-28 lead. Ilyasova was held to one free throw over the final three quarters. In the second quarter, Jennings had 12 points to help the Bucks to a 62-60 halftime lead.
Gooden made a unique three-point play with 8:06 to play in the second quarter. He threw a ball against the backboard, caught his own rebound, laid the ball in, was fouled by Washington's Cartier Martin and made the free throw.
The Wizards took the lead with a 10-0 run that bridged the end of the second and beginning of the third quarters to take a 67-62 lead. They increased it to 81-72 and led 88-81 after three.
Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles was fully aware of the implications of the game. The Bucks and Sixers meet in one week. Milwaukee finishes with six games in eight nights.
"We have one fortunate thing going for us in that we do play Philadelphia," Skiles said. "There is a night coming up here where we have full control. We need to make sure that we're in position for that night."
NOTES: Washington coach Randy Wittman said chances were "probably slim" that F Andray Blatche, who hasn't played since March 18 because of "conditioning problems" would return this season. At Wednesday's shootaround, Blatche told reporters: "I cut my hair. That's five pounds right there." ... Bucks F/C Larry Sanders didn't play because of stomach flu.