Recap: Wizards 104, Bucks 102

Box Score

You don't need to jump very high to block Earl Boykins.

I am typing to you, not some giant NBA'er.

And so another rookie lesson learned. Brandon Jennings was caught with his feet off the ground, caught with his defensive judgment just off with a second to go in a tied game. 

Whether a preseason-pessimest or offseason-optimist, we all figured it would be an up-and-down adventure on this Jennings ride, and it was just that in the final ten seconds of regulation: After all, the rook' had just nailed a clutch three to tie the game prior to his foul.

Still, on a night when he was outplayed by his backup (about him...), Jennings wanted the ball, the shot on his team's final possession. And he made it count.

But while much of the pregame focus centered on Washington's Big Three, Bogut, and Jennings, everyone looked right past and right over old friend Earl Boykins. So Boykins worked the fourth quarter pick-n-roll with Brendan Haywood into a win.

And just like that, one of the East's most pleasant surprises (9-8 Milwaukee) stand just a couple in front of one of the disappointments (7-10 Washington).

It's a long road, and to maintain that barely-winning record, the Bucks must find a way to win on the road. And stay on their toes or at least their feet on defense.

Three Bucks

Luke Ridnour. Three years ago, Ridnour was a dynamite player in both November and December. Just look at those game logs. A scorching shooter from inside and outside the arc, great passing, the Duck did it all.

But he never played quite like that before or after.

This is the closest thing.

After sitting out the second half of Monday's game with a sore hamstring, Ridnour returned very ready to roll. He had the runners, jumpers, and threes all working, and his passing was just as good. We'll take 20 points, 6 rebounds, and 0 turnovers each time.

Hakim Warrick. Scott Skiles went absolutely nuts after Warrick didn't get a foul call going up in the first quarter. Tossed out of the game in the first quarter. 'Twas a bad no-call, especially in the context of Charlie Bell getting whistled for sort of just hanging out near Caron Butler shortly before it all went down. Skiles wasn't afraid to single out Warrick when he started so poorly, but you never doubted that he would stand up for his men.

About Hak' though. He's playing about as well as anyone wearing green and red the past week and a half. And don't look now, but he's hanging out right around his career averages.

Tonight he combined with Ridnour off the bench as chief scoring options, and he was the only Buck able to get to the line, converting all eight. He finished with 20 points on 6-9 from the field.

Brandon Jennings. Picking Three Bucks has usually been difficult due to a surplus of candidates so far this season, but tonight was fairly rough after the first two. Not a prime performance among any of the starters.

Jennings continued his six-game-long shooting woes, during which time he hasn't eclipsed 33.3 % from the field in any game. And his defensive struggles, detailed in the lead, were again apparent. But he found open players (aside from on the fast break, when he never seems to dish) and finished with seven dimes and no turnovers. That game-tying three was nice, too.

Three Numbers

0. As noted, the point guard duo of Jennings and Ridnour didn't commit a single turnover. The Wizards aren't the best defensively, or really very good at all. But zero turnovers is zero turnovers, and they had 13 assists together.

1. Earl Boykins made more free throws in the final second of the game than all Bucks not named Hakim Warrick did the entire game. Warrick made 8-8 while the rest of his mates shot 1-4 at the free throw line. The Wizards made 25-34 at the stripe.

25. The Bucks (42-95) attempted 25 more shots from the field than the Wizards (38-70). Neither team did much work on the offensive boards (6-3 Milwaukee) so the field goal discrepancy was largely a product of... surprise, surprise: shooting far fewer free throws (34-12).

Three Good

Ridnour and Warrick. Worth reiterating. They were the stars against New Orleans, and they were the stars tonight. And if they hadn't played so very well in both of those games, these games would've something much worse than close, late-game disappointing, road losses.

Close? Three road losses (Philadelphia, San Antonio, Oklahoma City) weren't close, but it almost seems like bad luck to lose all of the other three.

The Bucks dropped to 2-6 on the road, but you can file this one next to games in Chicago and New Orleans as very legitimate opportunities to steal wins away from home. Some terrible late-game decisions and results in all three, but they are learning.

Skiles. Sort of conflicted on the ejection. On one hand, that technical free throw converted by, who else, Earl Boykins, loomed large in the down-to-the-wire loss. But I like the fire from Skiles, especially in light of the questionable officiating and on a night when his team came out looking like they needed motivation.

Three Bad

Defense. The Wizards shot 54.3 % from the field despite none of the big three really feeling it tonight: Arenas (10-24), Jamison (5-8), Butler (4-10). Post-game, Skiles had nothing good to say about the defensive performance, and I must say that I can't recall many big stops on that side of the ball.

Look at that little fella. He's got enough poison in him to kill an elephant. That's right. Of all people. Eleven points in the final ten minutes for the former Buck, who just ate up Milwaukee running the pick and roll. I was concerned about Jennings possibly guarding Arenas, but it turned out that first Nick Young and then Boykins made the most trouble.

Bogut vs Brendan. Neither Gadzuric nor Elson played in this one, and Thomas only saw nine minutes. So this one was all on Bogut down low.

And if he's all that serious about stepping up to an All-Star level then Bogut must find a way. The Aussie was actually quite good in the previous few head-to-head matchups with Haywood, but tonight was a different story. Haywood's wideness bothered Bogut, but that's not really it because even Andray Blatche defended Bogut with some success. We can't possibly expect him to play like he did against Chicago every time, but 4-14 and 8 points, let us do without that.

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