The fall and the rise … and the fall: Wizards 114 – Bucks 107
The Washington Wizards played with the speed and precision of a team that had been off for two days.
The Milwaukee Bucks defended as if they had no idea this was going to be a game in which both teams were required to play hard, like a team looking to move on as quick as possible.
That’s how we ended up with a Wizards 75 – 53 lead at halftime. The game was pretty much over already, though the Bucks fought back and had a real shot of winning in the fourth quarter, down just three points at one point. But it was shocking how unprepared and inadequate the team looked early. John Wall and the rest of the Wizards looked possessed. Whether the Bucks made or missed, Washington wanted the ball on the other side of the court as fast as possible. From there, the goal was to get to the hoop or kick out into a corner for three.
Over and over this happened and over and over it worked. Washington made 10 of its 17 threes in the first half. Trevor Ariza had 20 points! Drew Gooden had nine!
The Bucks found the Wizards break in quarter three, holding them to just 10 points, with the lethargy that was so obvious in the first half only a memory, though a very real one, easy to recall whenever anyone glanced up at the scoreboard.
Ultimately, I couldn’t help but wonder why the Bucks can never look like the Wizards? Why not let these guys loose? Why not have Brandon Knight take control of the gas pedal and toss all of his weight onto it. Maybe some other team could look out of sorts and unprepared for a change. It seemed like a lot of fun. We could use more of that at Bucks games.
|Ersan Ilyasova, PF Shot Chart 28 MIN | 4-10 FG | 5-6 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +2
It’s something else, watching Ilyasova. He never ceases to throw himself around, though he’s only productive about a quarter of the time. He was a big part of Milwaukee’s comeback. He grabbed five third quarter rebounds, drew a foul and generally was at his peskiest. Other than that, he kept finding himself switched onto perimeter players who either drove by him or took advantage of the space he had to give and hit threes. Bad job by all involved with that.
|Khris Middleton, PF Shot Chart 33 MIN | 7-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 15 PTS | -5
I have two memories of this game that are vivid. The first is Middleton catching in the corner, taking one dribble forward before crossing over and stepping back to create space and make a jumper. It was a sweet move that was easy for him. The second is a missed three by the Wizards. I was watching Middleton and Ariza. As the shot went up, Middleton stood about 16 feet from the hoop, waiting on someone to get it and go. Ariza sprinted towards the hoop and ended up grabbing the offensive board. He found himself alone int he corner, because his man (Middleton) never moved from the other side. Ariza nailed the three. This was how the whole first half went, for the whole team, not just Middleton. They just had no bounce, no energy.
|Zaza Pachulia, C Shot Chart 29 MIN | 2-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -1
He does very little that is obviously helpful. The Bucks could live with a solid amount of Zaza if the team was stacked with much better players around him.
|Brandon Knight, PG Shot Chart 34 MIN | 9-20 FG | 5-5 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 25 PTS | +7
Not Knight’s finest night in terms of moving the ball and getting Milwaukee good looks as a team.
|Nate Wolters, PG Shot Chart 29 MIN | 4-10 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +7
Everybody loses points for the terrible first half, Nate included. He hit another three, but didn’t have a terribly noticeable game outside of that. Nate has a way of piling up reasonable stats without really standing out. He did find Henson on a lob that really showed how aware he can be of everyone’s position on the court though.
|Jeff Adrien, PF Shot Chart 22 MIN | 2-4 FG | 4-5 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -7
Continued to flourish as a rebounder and semi-fourish as a guy who puts back offensive rebounds.
|Tony Mitchell, F Shot Chart 5 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -10
Played very briefly. Didn’t notice him.
|John Henson, C Shot Chart 17 MIN | 6-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 4 TO | 12 PTS | -8
Classic Henson game. Very good numbers, though I can’t recall seeing him playing and being overwhelmingly impressed.
|Ramon Sessions, PG Shot Chart 22 MIN | 4-11 FG | 6-6 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | -9
He’s one of the guys who had a night similar to his usual night, though the whole team was so woeful defending in the first half that we just have to punish the whole group, grade-wise.
|Giannis Antetokounmpo, SG Shot Chart 22 MIN | 1-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -11
Another low impact game for Giannis, though he had a nice backdoor pass leading to two for Sessions. He also busted out and nearly ruined Andre Miller, but couldn’t quite finish. He did hit the two throws he got on that near dunk-on.
He talked after the game about how the team wasn’t ready to defend the high screen and roll leading into passed out to the corners in the first half, despite this being the thing the Wizards do. That’s on him. He also called a bizarre number of timeouts with the game out of reach and only seconds left. He said these are opportunities to get more work in and also “he can’t take timeouts with him.”