"We have a good team," Nene said after recording his third consecutive double-double with 21 points and 13 rebounds. "I remember, in the beginning of the season, everybody cursed us, they say bad things about us, they call us terrible team, but I always say, they don't know the future. We have the potential. We have the talent and we start playing together. We start recognizing each other. When you don't know the future, you're going to say things and you're going to regret after that."
After missing five games with a sprained right wrist, it took Beal just two games to score a season-high in points. And he did it with his right wrist taped.
In the fourth quarter on Monday, Nene left no doubt that he was ready to finally get that first road victory over an Eastern Conference opponent. The Wizards had allowed the Bucks to score six straight points and get within 81-78 with about nine minutes remaining, so Coach Randy Wittman replaced Kevin Seraphin with Nene. Nene quickly spun around Bucks rookie John Henson, made a jump hook and converted a three-point play. He then made a 16-foot jumper to help the Wizards push the lead back up to 12 points.
"When we went back to him in that stint, he stabilized things for us," Wittman said.
Washington is really starting to come into their own. Coming into the game, I didn't think their great defense and hustle would carry over on the road. Well, I was wrong. Washington is continuously improving and it makes me giddy just thinking about it. This is the best Washington Wizards team we've seen in a while.
When was the last time we've seen a Wizards team dominate playoff bound teams? Even in the ‘big three' era, the Wizards were never truly known for their defensive capabilities. With John Wall in the lineup, the Washington Wizards have been considered one of the best defensive teams in the league.
John Wall: Somewhere in the midst of Bradley Beal's career night and Nene's dominance of Samuel Dalembert, John Wall finished with a double-double and again was the conductor of an unselfish offense that ended up with all but 13 of their shots being assisted. Wall had 10 of them to go along with his 14 points. He has become a natural facilitator, displaying a lot more patience, waiting for plays to unfold, and allowing his teammates to get in orderly position before feeding them the rock. As long he manages to remain collective in the half court offense, combined with his electrifying playmaking abilities in transition and at the rim, the Wizards will always be in position to finish games on top.
Brandon Jennings: This might as well be part II of Wall's spotlight. Jennings was a complete dud last night. While a number of his shots were fair looks but just misfired, credit Jennings' bad outing to some good defense. Wall in particular defended Jennings pretty well and was a cause for his 3-17 shooting.
As a rookie, Beal's development throughout the course of the year has been amazing to watch. It is almost impossible to call him a rookie anymore. The guard from the University of Florida looks polished, energetic and wily as he makes plays throughout the game. At some points looking like an NBA veteran, Beal looks as if he has ice in his veins, something he did not have earlier in the season.
Perhaps it is no longer shouldering the burden for the entire offense, Beal has looked smooth as silk playing with ease on the offensive side of the ball. He exuded confidence coming off the bench Monday night with 10-17 shooting, knocking down four of his five shots from downtown to give him a game high 28 total points.
But beyond that the Wizards continued a strong trend: good things happen when Nene, Emeka Okafor and John Wall play together. The crew has 200 minutes under its belt now, and is outscoring opponents by five points per 100 possessions in that time. Particularly important for Okafor has been Nene's presence: Emeka is a +3 overall but a +7 with Nene. The Brazilian has an off-the-charts plus-minus (+15), thanks largely to how stunningly awful (-10) the Wizards have been when Nene sits. Wall is a +14 after 400 minutes, including a +6 when playing.
The Bucks continued to slip and slide in a 102-90 defeat to the Washington Wizards, losing for the fourth consecutive time and the sixth time in their last seven games. Rookie Bradley Beal came off the Wizards bench to score a career-high 28 points, and Nene contributed 21 points, 13 rebounds and six assists as Washington won its fourth in a row.
"We're in a losing streak right now, but somehow we have to find a way," Bucks forward Ersan Ilyasova said. "We just have to play much better defensively."
Ellis was at a loss to explain the Bucks' loss to Washington, which won only its fourth road game of the season.
"We're at a rocky point right now," Ellis said. "We're hitting a lot of bumps in the road. But this is the NBA. It goes like that. "We just have to fight our way out of it. I think I can do a little bit better, do a bit more. But at the same time, one guy can't win a basketball game by himself. If that means I ratchet mine up a little bit, the other guys have to ratchet up theirs as well. "Hopefully we get our next game, feeling good about ourselves going into the all-star (break) and come out and try to turn it around."
One time, the ball swung around the perimeter, and Ellis opted for a contested three as time expired. Another time, Jennings drove and kicked to a relatively open Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who took a 20 footer with as much time remaining on the shot clock. At one point, the Bucks had three consecutive possessions thanks to two offensive rebounds, and they didn't score. Ellis took a similar shot (on a fadeaway) with 16 seconds to go, and Ekpe Udoh had a handful of post-up opportunities against Nene. These weren't all in succession, but they were all microcosms of the Bucks' all-around scoring issues.
It's one thing to lose, but a completely other thing to lose with very little sense of urgency. Larry Sanders wasn't just the anchor for the defense. He was the energy of the team as well.
It appears the inevitable post-firing coach hot streak - or, in this case, the "Boylan Bump" - is now officially over. The Bucks are featuring the same philosophy, system and players under Boylan than they were with Skiles. Aside from a few minor changes, such as inserting Ersan Ilyasova into the starting lineup, little has actually changed.
In short, the Bucks are still what we thought they were coming into this season: an inconsistent middling team that had - and still has -the potential to slightly overachieve or underachieve. The current four-game losing streak doesn't change that; it simply magnifies it. With the trade deadline (Feb. 21) looming, owner Herb Kohl and general manager John Hammond will have to decide if they want to continue down the path of mediocrity and to the eighth seed.
The Wizards won again last night, this time on the road against the Bucks. That is four wins in a row against quality opponents. Nene had a great game. Okafor had a very professional grade game. He is a very consistent performer, and is playing at a very high level.