Apologies for the tardiness, but here is your recap roundup from Wednesday's 106-93 Wizards win over the Bucks. As always, check out our StoryStream (which is filled with lots of goodies this time in particular) and view postgame interviews of Randy Wittman, John Wall, Trevor Ariza, Garrett Temple, Martell Webster and Trevor Booker on Monumental Network.
Whatever was said during that third-quarter timeout Wednesday night worked. Wall had 23 points and 10 assists, and the Wizards beat the Milwaukee Bucks 106-93.
The exchange came as Washington was blowing a 20-point, second-half lead, but Wall rallied with eight fourth-quarter points to hold off the Bucks.
"Oh, that's coaching. C'mon," Wittman said emphatically. "I love that."
The 20-point lead seemed to vanish in the time it takes John Wall to get to the basket on one of his patented full-court drives. Wall was angry, and clashed momentarily with Coach Randy Wittman on the bench over blown defensive assignments, forcing the short-handed Washington Wizards to huddle to find a solution for the hard-charging Milwaukee Bucks.
On the verge of their worst collapse of the season, the Wizards regrouped around Wall, who settled down his teammates with his playmaking and scoring, posting 23 points and 10 assists to lead the Wizards to a 106-93 victory at Verizon Center. Wall was prepared to carry a heavy burden with the Wizards down to just two healthy back-court players and he overcame his own fatigue to log a season-high 43 minutes on the second end of back-to-back games.
In seven games this month, Wall is shooting 49-for-104 from the field, or 47.1%. He has been hovering around 40% most of the season.
"I'm just being more aggressive from the start of the game. Not being passive. I think when I was extra passive, I had a lot of turnovers," said Wall, who had just two Wednesday. "I'm just being more aggressive and taking better shots than what I was taking. Just giving credit to me working harder with (assistant coach) Sam (Cassell) on my jump shot."
Wall also had four steals and knocked down a 3-pointer for the second straight game, shooting 10-for-19 from the field. He's averaged 19.6 points and 8.0 assists during Beal's absence.
"When I was thinking about pace, I thought it was pushing every time and loking for an easy shot. Just listening to Coach Witt talk and watching film with him, pace is just how we push it up. Maybe I'll throw it ahead and somebody else got an easy basket or push it ahead and throw it to the post, just get the defense moving."
The uncertainty of playing time has led to inconsistent production but Booker put aside any frustration or confusion and made the most of his opportunity in the Wizards' 106-93 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. Booker had his first double-double of the season with 13 points and 12 rebounds - both season highs - in 22 minutes and made several huge plays in the second half to help the Wizards recover from blowing a 20-point, second-half lead and pull away in the fourth quarter. Afterward, Booker said, "I felt like the old Book."
Booker, who played 22 minutes off the bench, came through for coach Randy Wittman. He was one of three Wizards players to register double-doubles.
"I really didn't know. Some games I was playing. Some games I wasn't playing," said Booker, who had 13 points on 4-for-5 shooting and 12 rebounds. "I just try to stay ready. He called my name tonight and I had a pretty good game."
One of the things that Wizards coach Randy Wittman has stressed all season is being ready when your number is called. For Garrett Temple his playing time has been erratic at best since being called up from the D-League. But with the Wizards down to just two healthy guards against Milwaukee, Temple knew his team would be counting on him.
"We had some guys banged up," said Temple after logging 41 minutes in the Wizards 106-93 win. "A.J. [Price] couldn't go because of his groin. Brad[Beal] wasn't able to go because of his ankle. I knew I was going to have to play a pretty good amount of minutes tonight. "
"I thought this was one of [Wall's] better games of sustaining the pace of game," Wizards head coach Randy Wittman said after the game. "First half was as good a pace that we've had. We've got to continue-not only John-as a team to learn how to play that way. We're not made up right now to be a walk-it-up, slug-it-out, grind-it-out team. And we need to take advantage of John and what he can do."
Martell Webster saw "glimpses of greatness" in John Wall tonight and it's hard to disagree. Wall strung together two 20 points games for the first time since last March and was the most confident I have seen him all season. In almost every recap I've done this year I've mentioned Bradley Beal's confidence level as a barometer for his play and success, and now it looks like mentioning John Wall's is just as important. I can't say I would expect a third year player to be unsure of his abilities, but the last two day version of John Wall is not the same guy we saw over the preceding three weeks.
As detailed by Martell Webster in his post-game interview, Wall simply carried the team on his back. On a night where the Wizards were sorely depleted in the backcourt with the absence of not only Bradley Beal, but also A.J. Price, Jonathan Hildred rose to the occasion beautifully. He knocked down jumper after jumper (including another 3!!!). He zipped up and down the court with uncontainable speed. He sacrificed his body on the pavement time and again. He also had an intense exchange with his coach during a timeout, an exchange that apparently was the driving factor in the Wizards' game-sealing surge in the final period. And while all was well with John's game tonight, he did mention after the game that he's still working his way back into top shape with every game. After seeing this type of performance from him tonight, I sure as hell can't wait for that to happen.
The Bucks' frustrations boiled over as center Larry Sanders was ejected with 2:45 left in the game after being called for a charging foul. Sanders gave the thumbs-up sign to all three officials - Bennie Adams, Kevin Cutler and Bennett Salvatore - and was given the heave-ho by Salvatore.
"I really want to win," Sanders said of his response. "I want to gain some momentum going into the playoffs and seal our position. I felt like we fought hard but we didn't play our best. "There were a lot of things I was frustrated with."
Monta Ellis did his best to keep Milwaukee competitive, dropping in 12 of his 19 shot attempts for 26 points and dishing 8 assists. Brandon Jennings had 9 dimes for the Bucks but shot just 2-8, including 0-3 from deep. Ersan Ilyasova shook off a rough first half (3-10 shooting) to finish with a respectable 21 points and 12 rebounds, but his inability to slow down the Wizards on defense or keep them off the boards was critical.
It's tough to travel as much as the Bucks have and keep coming out with wins. It would have been nice had they put either the Warriors or Kings or Mavericks away early and been able to rest a bit. Instead, those were all victories or losses that went until the final minutes. So Milwaukee may have been gassed in Washington. Well they get a day off today. And then the Heat on Friday. Hello .500.
The troubling play of a much more concerting nature belonged to Brandon Jennings (2/8 FG, 2 TO). In the first half, Jennings' speed and quickness vanished. His passivity was palpable, both on offense and defense.
"I haven't been shooting as much, but when I was shooting it was a problem", Jennings said after the game. "So now that I'm not shooting, it's like, ‘Oh he doesn't want to play basketball', but I do, it's just that I'm looking for my teammates more."
The ever-present conundrum that has surrounded Jennings for essentially his entire career is how to manage expectations. There was bound to be backlash against Jennings if his exquisite production didn't hold up, even if his performance these days is far more team-dependent than back when he just lobbed up shot after shot. But it's as much on Brandon to accept that as it is on fans to figure out what exactly we want from him. Professional basketball isn't exactly a shining beacon of justice, and the notion of a player actually shifting his approach game-to-game in response to fan chatter is laughable. I don't think that's what is really happening here; this is likely just a particularly candid look at a guy who invariably takes a lot of heat when his team comes up short.