The Wizards entered Saturday night's tilt with the Bucks needing to win--playoff positioning, people--and boasting the kind of talent that understandably had already guaranteed them a trip to the postseason. The Bucks? Well, we all know the Bucks haven't been playing for anything but pride since about December, and with leading scorer Brandon Knight (sore hip) added to Milwaukee's long list of unavailable players, the hopes of seeing a competitive game seemed even more unlikely than usual.
And so the end result felt like an acceptable one: a 104-91 Wizard win that was actually closely contested until midway through the third quarter, when a 13-1 Washington run broke up a game that Milwaukee had kept within a possession until that point. Khris Middleton (20 points, 6/15 fg, 4/5 threes) and Bradley Beal (26 points, 12/22 fg, no free throws) put on a nice show of marksmanship to keep the game interesting for a while, but the Bucks' sloppiness (20 turnovers) and Washington's insistence on moving the ball (25 assists, 11 turnovers) and making jump shots eventually proved too steep a hill to climb for the Bucks, who remain the only team in the league without back-to-back wins this season.
With Knight a late scratch, Giannis Antetokounmpo joined the starting backcourt and also served as the Bucks' backup point guard behind Ramon Sessions, who matched Middleton with 20 points (6/16 fg, 8/10 ft) and added a team-high eight assists in 42 minutes. Giannis similarly logged 43 minutes, but was typically deferential in tallying a mixed bag of results (3/5 fg, 1/1 threes, 1/4 ft, 8 pts, 8 rebs, 2 ast, 3 stl, 1 blk, 4 to) in the process. On the plus side, he did give us this sequence:
- Giannis' shooting line went something like this: a missed pull-up jumper out of P&R, an out-of-his-comfort-zone straightaway three off an iso dribble, another missed jumper, an off-the-dribble 22-foot make and the transition layup you see above. He actually looked for his shot off the dribble a little bit last night--the kinds of shots he has to make if he's ever going to be much of a scorer--but you can tell he still spends too much time thinking about whether to pass, drive or shoot when he has the ball. I don't want Giannis hoisting up bad shots just for the sake of it, but five shots and two assists in 43 minutes suggest he needs to be a little more assertive and decisive to make an impact offensively.
Despite nominally playing point guard for the six minutes that Sessions was on the bench and occasionally bringing the ball up when the two were on the court, he wasn't doing much in the way of real point guard playmaking for the most part. He'd dribble up and usually immediately pass into one of the high post bigs, and generally did a lot of standing around and watching while Sessions and Middleton did the heavy lifting. Both of his assists came early and were nice feeds to get layups for Ramon Sessions and Jeff Adrien, but he offset that with a grab-bag of turnovers throughout the remainder of the game (bad pass, lost ball in traffic, a travel, and a sideline step out of bounds). Chalk it up as another learning experience.
- John Henson was solid offensively (13 pts, 6/10 fg, 7 rebs, 2 ast, 3 to), but had a couple space cadet moments defensively. Kind of an average Henson night.
- Jeff Adrien logged his now-typical double-double with 11 points (4/6 fg) and 10 boards in 31 minutes, but even with relatively few shots he got caught forcing the issue a bit with five turnovers. Still, he was a big reason the Bucks own the boards 42-36 and why Trevor Booker only had one rebound in 25 minutes.
- Miroslav Raduljica (17 minutes, 2/4 fg, 6 rebs) saw first half action and responded with an acrobatic (well, relatively speaking) lefty layup and a casual 12-foot hook shot. Unfortunately he didn't do much after that, and his lack of mobility burned him a couple times as well.