Riding a dominant performance by center Andrew Bogut (19 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocks), the Bucks made light work of a Wizards team that appears to have come down from the emotionally-charged honeymoon after dealing away starters Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood. But since losing Josh Howard to a season-ending left knee injury, the Wizards (21-38) have now lost four of their last five games. The Wizards lost, 100-87, in Milwaukee on Wednesday, but they trailed by 20 midway through the fourth quarter, which upset Blatche as he covered his head with a towel. After that loss, Blatche said the Wizards were too good to trail any team by 20 points. But the Wizards found themselves trailing by 31 with 9 minutes 54 seconds left in the game.
\One of the teams shared the ball tonight, the other did not. But while the Bucks are seventh in the league in assist margin--they average 21.5 apg and allow 19.5--it's not often that you see one team rack up nearly triple the assists of their opponents. Just as impressively, the Bucks turned it over just 10 times compared to 14 for Washington.
The last two losses - the latest tonight’s 102-74 junk show - have come in back-to-back games against Bucks, who are going in the opposite direction as a franchise – namely, straight for the playoffs – while Washington faces a stark reality that shouldn’t come as a surprise but still isn’t easy to digest. "Your adrenaline kicks off, but part of it is who you play against," said Wizard head coach Flip Saunders. "Milwaukee plays like us, but they’ve been together, and they have a considerable amount of talent and some veteran players. What happens, when you play a veteran team that matches your strengths, sometimes what comes into play a lot is your execution. When you have to simplify things so much, as I did, they overloaded on our offense and because we’re limited on what we can run, we become predictable. Our energy isn’t something that could overcome that."
In the first half the Bucks really controlled the game shooting 47.7% from the floor while the Wizards put on a 13 for 41 shooting performance or 31.7%. Washington was out-rebounded as well by a margin of 28-20, but the most most glaring statistic was the assist differential of 16-3 in favor of Milwaukee. Frankly,you’re not going to win a lot of games when you start off games like that. Basketball is a game that works at it’s best when the ball moves. It doesn’t matter at what level you play at, if you don’t share the ball your chances of winning decrease significantly.To add to that the Wizards are currently the third worst team in the league in assists per game, averaging 18.8 and to put that into perspective only Detroit and the Nets are worse. That is not good company to be in.
Carlos Delfino and Andrew Bogut combined for 19 points equaling the Wizards total in the first quarter. By the end of the first half the Wizards had just three assists compared to five turnovers. By the midpoint of the fourth quarter the stands were nearly empty and the few fans who were present showed their displeasure by showering the Wizards with boo’s. When all the damage was done the Wizards had set new season lows in points (74), assists (10), and lost by a new season high 28 points.
Washington coach Flip Saunders and some of his players placed much of the blame squarely on the Wizards themselves. "We’re not good enough to play 1-on-1," said guard Mike Miller, who scored six points.
The Wizards gave a pathetic effort - making lazy passes, failing to box out and rotate on defense - and perhaps fans had become spoiled by this bunch of energetic overachievers. Now, they might need to start expecting that nights like this could become the norm. The Wizards have lost four of their past five games, and it no coincidence that this funk arrived when the team lost Josh Howard to a torn ACL in his left knee. The Wizards won three of their first four games after the break - and were in position to win all four - but when they lost Howard against Chicago, a team short on offensive options was stripped down to scraps.
The Wizards could also use a spark off the bench. Earl Boykins did have 12 points, but Nick Young only had two points. In the last six games Young is eight of twenty six shooting from the field. "It’s not that, we’re just having tough games, and some shots aren’t falling," Blatche added. "We’re just not playing with the same fight and chemistry, and we need to get back to that. We need to have that same hunger inside of us."