Brandon Jennings and the Milwaukee Bucks never broke stride as they had their way with the Washington Wizards, handing them their third straight defeat while claiming the season series 2 to 1.
Jennings (23 pts) and John Salmons (22 pts) lead the Bucks in scoring despite not logging a single minute between the two during the fourth quarter. The Bucks used the second and third quarters to build a 25-point lead, outscoring the Wizards 53 to 31 during that time.
Wizards Head Coach Flip Saunders attributed late quarter collapses to why the game got so out of hand.
“We have some guys when they get tired, they have a tendency to brain-lock when they get a little bit fatigued,” said Saunders. “That happens a lot at the end of quarters. Sometimes you try to buy a couple minutes and we’ve got guys in foul trouble.”
Saunders seemed most dissatisfied in the play of his guards, saying they didn’t step up to the challenge on the defensive end.
“It’s tough. I was most disappointed that we really didn’t accept the challenge in the backcourt defensively. At some point you just have to get after them. That’s part of the growing up process of being a young player. Taking that next step is being able to dig your feet in and go after somebody and if you’re not doing that, the other team gets too comfortable.”
John Wall didn’t have his best night, managing only 10 points on 4 of 17 (24%) shooting from the field. Wall was able to distribute seven assists and grab nine rebounds, but he was obviously disappointed in his performance.
“I feel like I had an off night and didn’t really help the team out as much as I could,” said Wall. “They basically got every shot they wanted whenever they wanted. We need to compete harder in games, it is going to come down to one on one games but we still have to help each other out.”
Nick Young also had a tough shooting night converting only 5 of his 17 (29%) shots. He was clearly bothered by Salmons and Carlos Delfino (15 pts) who drained shot after shot on him while also playing him physically on the defense end.
Jordan Crawford came off the bench to score a career-high 22 points, but his five turnovers and the fact that the team was unable to get any traction offensively shows that maybe they weren’t the kind of points the Wizards were looking for.
Crawford is a talented scorer but he often over dribbles and only looks for his own shot. The Wizards must do a better job of complimenting each other on the floor instead of getting frustrated when they aren’t getting the looks they want. Maybe it was the discouragement of the 20-point deficit, but there’s no reason for John Wall to be standing in the corner during whole possessions while Crawford dribbles around looking for his shot. They must find some common ground in order for that combo to be successful.
JaVale McGee had a very JaVale McGee type of game. By that I mean he was able to corral a decent share of rebounds (13 reb) while showing off his athletic abilities, but he continues to lack the awareness on both ends of the court that’s keeping him from becoming a better player. A good example of this came with four minutes left in the third quarter when McGee turned the ball over on a bad pass and then instead of running back on defense McGee hunched over under his own basket and caught his breathe. He was subbed out immediately.
In their last meeting McGee had one of his more impressive performances of the season scoring 16 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. The drop in performance partially could be attributed to the play of Andrew Bogut who filled the stat sheet with 14 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. But McGee continues to hurt himself by turning the ball over and making poor decisions when he has the ball.
The Wizards had to play without veterans Cartier Martin (Patella Tendinitis), Josh Howard and Rashard Lewis. Their injury woes continued during the game as well.
Andray Blatche was forced to leave the game with a shoulder injury he sustained during the firs quarter. This forced Coach Saunders to deploy an all-rookie lineup featuring Hamady N’Diaye (1 pt, 1st, 1 blk), Kevin Seraphin (6 reb), Trevor Booker (8pts, 8reb) to go with Wall and Crawford. The group enjoyed limited success but was overmatched by a veteran Bucks club.
Coach Saunders stated the team would have a training camp style competition for every position on the team over the next three days. It’s clear Saunders is looking for anything to help energize the team for this final stretch of the regular season, but one must wonder why the depth chart wasn’t altered earlier in the season if he felt it could have helped them. Regardless, it’s clear that Saunders is taking as much heat as any of his players for the way the Wizards have been playing.
Washington will host Blake Griffin and the Los Angelos Clippers on Saturday. Currently on a three-game win streak, the Clippers host the Boston Celtics Wednesday.