Gortat may have lost this battle, but he won the war Wednesday night. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
Gortat may have lost this battle, but he won the war Wednesday night. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
Washington Wizards 100 Final
Recap | Box Score
92 Milwaukee Bucks
Ersan Ilyasova, PF 39 MIN | 6-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 12 PTS | -4

We’ve had a weird thing happen over and over this season. A Bucks player plays substantial minutes, puts up modest numbers, yet never appeared to make much of an impact on the game. Ilyasova Wednesday night is a perfect case of this yet again. He wasn’t bad, per se, but he was just there. Obviously the five turnovers aren’t good and he struggled, just like everyone else, when defending the Wizards bigs. But he was just MEH all game long.

Khris Middleton, PF 33 MIN | 6-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 13 PTS | -3

At one point, Middleton was 6-7 from the field and had flashed not only his consistent ability to make open jumpers, but an impressive catch and attack move. Things were going well for him on offense. Then he airballed two of his final four shots and hit the bottom of the rim on an attack. Still, not a bad night offensively overall. He was one of a few Bucks who made some critical defensive errors in the second half that we’ll dig into later.

Zaza Pachulia, C 36 MIN | 1-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 3 PTS | -6

His contest of a John Wall layup as time expired sent the game into overtime. But that was the most active he was on defense all game, as Gortat was consistently taking advantage of the slow-footed Pachulia in pick and roll opportunities. Zaza is also shying away more and more from contributing anything on offense. He once caught the ball in the post with Garrett Temple on him and fired it back out.

Brandon Knight, PG 30 MIN | 2-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 7 PTS | +1

Instead of getting all of his turnovers out of the way in the first quarter, he peppered them throughout the game, saving one for late in the fourth quarter when the Bucks could ill afford a turnover with the scored tied and under a minute to play. Knight had at least six turnovers, the one I just spoke about was actually credited to Mayo, but it was pure, unadulterated, Knight. When he’s trapped or has gone too far, he’s telegraphing the HELL out of his passes and teams are pouncing.

O.J. Mayo, SG 36 MIN | 9-23 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 21 PTS | -4

He hit pair of miraculous threes, one with the shot-clock nearing zero and the other with the game clock nearing zero in the fourth quarter. Aside from that, Mayo struggled again to connect on shots that were not 3-pointers. He isn’t getting much space, thanks to the general ineffectiveness of his teammates, but I’m wondering if he gets blitzed so hard when he starts working with the ball because opponents know he isn’t much for drive and kick.

John Henson, PF 15 MIN | 2-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -6

Henson had a terrific run early in the game, aside from some struggles with a larger and more physical Gortat. Then he was whistled for his second foul and sat the rest of the first half. When he re-entered in the second half, he failed to grab a rebound or block a shot and he couldn’t score in the post against Jan Vesely. Still, it hurts to watch Ilyasova scramble around for 40 minutes while Henson couldn’t break 20. Defensively, he had a better chance of impacting this game than Ersan.

Caron Butler, SF 20 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -5

Drew pulled Butler early in the fourth quarter and rode the, at the time, hot Khris Middleton down the stretch. That shows Drew has some serious confidence in his second year forward and possibly some doubt about Butler. Butler’s struggled more than he’s played well this year and perhaps Drew doubts that he can consistently play well.

Luke Ridnour, PG 23 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | -9

Ridnour looked more effective than Knight, though that’s not saying much. With Knight nursing an injured hamstring late in the game, Ridnour got the call in overtime, though most thought it was because of Knight’s sloppiness with the ball. Ridnour proceeded to hit a big three in overtime … then turned the ball over. Oh, the turnovers. It’s worse because they aren’t especially creative or anything, just laziness.

Gary Neal, SG 17 MIN | 3-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | -4

Was Gary Neal + a few passes.

Larry Drew

I don’t like pulling guys who get two fouls in the first half, specifically guys who don’t foul much. But I do get why Drew had Knight in the game late. I know he made mistakes, but Knight is a guy who can contribute something to wins right now. Plus, he’s further along, so decisions need to be made on him in the next year. Leave him out and he’ll show the Bucks whether or not he’s apart of the future.

Four Things We Saw

  1. Onto the defensive lapses late. Consistently, all game long, the Wizards would run a pick and roll with Wall and Gortat, then Wall would hit a spotting up Gortat at the elbow. If a defender came over from the weak side, he would swing to the corner. Sometimes it wasn’t a pick and roll, just a pass to Gortat, whatever. But Mayo and Middleton both struggled defending these actions in the second half, with Mayo once fouling Martell Webster on a made three, giving the Wizards a huge opportunity with 50 seconds left. In close games late, these are the details that cost teams games. Larry Drew said the team talked about this action, having seen Washington do it quite a bit against the Lakers the night before.”It’s something we talked about going into the game,” he said. “We went into this game and I think you saw the first half where we didn’t give that shot up. We had a breakdown in the second half. We ended up being forced to be pulled in and they made the swings.”Credit Gortat for pulling in defenders with a solid night, but Milwaukee can’t give up great 3-point looks late in games.
  2. No Giannis. Sad.
  3. Milwaukee actually out-rebounded the Wizards 44-34, but gave up two critical offensive rebounds down four points in overtime. After the second one, a swiping tap-out by Nene, the Bucks resorted to fouling and the game was effectively over.
  4. A 10 game losing streak. The first since 1996. Yikes … or Yay.