It was a game the Bucks should win, but given the way things have been going over the last week I'm still feeling a fair bit of relief after watching Skiles' bunch down the hapless Wiz 97-91 in DC. In contrast to their recent penchant for blowing big leads, this time the Bucks spotted Washington an 11-point halftime edge before outscoring the Wizards 56-39 in the final two quarters.
Nick Young scored a career-high 30 on 12/19 shooting, but he and Antawn Jamison (25 on 9/14 fg) were going it alone for Washington, which got just six points on 2/13 shooting from Racine native (and usually professional Buck hunter) Caron Butler. In the end the game went down to the final two minutes, but by the way Washington gave away its lead you could kind of feel that the Bucks would have to really tank it not to come away with the win. Fortunately, the Bucks showed some composure late--more than the Wiz, at least.
- Andrew Bogut. Nice having the big fella back, eh? After his 7/8 shooting night Saturday, Bogut was again ultra-efficient with 9/12 fg for 18 points and 10 boards in 38 minutes. He scored eight of his points in the final quarter, overwhelming Washington's undersized front line with putbacks and finishes from in-close. Darius Songaila actually held his ground pretty well, but Bogut never forced anything and the Wizards never put Bogut under enough pressure to throw the Bucks' offense out of sync late.
- Michael Redd. Redd and Young put on a nice show late, though Mbah a Moute was tasked with stopping Young for most of the later stages of the game. Redd finished with 29 on 11/20 fg, including seven in the final four minutes. He had probably the game's biggest bucket when he hit a catch-and-shoot three off a curl with 1:20 left that stretched the Bucks lead back to four.
- Charlie Villanueva. Ridnour (13 pts, 10 dimes) also deserves mention, but Villanueva helped bring the Bucks back into the game late in the third. With the Bucks down 12, Villanueva's nine points in the final 3:30 of the period brought Milwaukee back to within five going into the fourth. Overall he scored 12 of his 16 (6/12 fg) in the second half and trailed only Bogut with a +13 rating.
300. Scott Skiles picked up his 300th career win--congrats coach!
- +16. While Bogut's offense has been touch-and-go all season, in part because of the varying knee and back injuries he's dealt with, he's still established himself as the Bucks' most indispensable player. Plus/minus can often lie, but Bogut's game-high +16 appropriately reflected the presence he brought.
17. The Bucks remain one of the league's best rebounding teams, but their inability to keep Washington off the glass was their Achilles' heel much of the night. The Wiz outrebounded them 42-36 including a 17-13 edge on the offense end.
Perimeter D. Caron Butler always seems to torment the Bucks, but tonight his shot just wasn't falling as the Bucks managed to crowd him when he drove and challenge his jumpers. He and former Buck Mike James combined to make just 4/25 shots (16%) for 14 points, though Young's 30 made up for a lot of that. Still, the Bucks at least stopped their streak of allowing opponents to shoot better than 50% from deep--albeit barely (6/13).
- Road warriors, kinda. The Bucks improved to 8-15 on the road, surpassing their road win total from the 07/08 season (7-34) with 18 games to spare. Still not particularly good, but incremental improvement is a good thing, too.
- Sessions' focus. With all the trade talk swirling, Ramon Sessions still managed to play well in limited minutes (though his 4/4 line doesn't exactly pop out of the box). He was a major factor as the Bucks seized command of the game at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarters, alternately setting up his bigs and twice getting to the rack.
Making life tough. After a solid start and 25-19 lead after one quarter, the Bucks looked absolutey listless in the second. Blatche took advantage of Bogut's absence to score six straight early in the period and Young's hot shooting (11 points, 4/4 fg) helped stretch the lead to as many as 13.
- RJ. Jefferson has been alternating good and bad games over the last four, and tonight was unfortunately a fairly quiet one: eight points (3/9 fg), three boards, no assists and two TOs in 26 minutes.
- Bell's ankle. CB's ankle has bothered him all year, and tonight it was soreness in the ankle that kept him on the inactive list. Bell's been pretty good over the past two weeks so here's to hoping it's improved by the time the Bucks host Miami on Wednesday.