The Bucks played great basketball for one quarter tonight. Unfortunately it was followed by a very bad one.
Trailing by as many as 19 in the first half, the Bucks had a resurgent third quarter that saw them outscore the Wizards 31-15 behind Giannis Antetokounmpo's 13. It's the second-straight night Antetokounmpo led a spark for the Bucks on offense. Tuesday night against Chicago he scored 11 second quarter points and finished with 29 and 10 with five dimes.
Giannis' performance on top of the Wizards shooting only 26 percent eventually helped the Bucks lead 74-71 and end the third on a 13-2 run after a turnaround jumper from Khris Middleton and a dunk by John Henson.
Unfortunately, everything the Bucks built in the third failed to translate at the start of the fourth, as the Wizards scored 10 straight while the guard-less Bucks went scoreless for four minutes and eventually committed a shocking 12 turnovers in the period and 27 overall. Despite their sloppiness, the Bucks actually cut the Wizards' lead to five with under two to go before former Buck Jared Dudley nailed a wide-open corner three to burn his old club. Dudley finished with 13 points and hit three triples on the night, two of them after terrible defense left him wide open. He was one of six players to finish in double-figures for the Wizards, who were led by John Wall's 18 points and eight assists.
Khris Middleton led the Bucks with 25 points on 9-of-17 shooting, while Greg Monroe posted his 20th double-double of the season with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Jabari Parker added a season-high 22 points — his first 20-point night of the season — while Giannis ended with 19 points, 11 rebounds and six dimes.
— Middleton's three in the fourth quarter was the Bucks' lone make in eight attempts, marking the first time since last February that an NBA team didn't hit at least two threes in a game (pretty amazing right?). Keeping the Bucks in the game: 53% shooting from the field, a 62-38 edge in the paint and a 47-30 advantage on the boards.
— Garrett Temple recorded a career-high five steals. He got all of them in the first.
— As a team, Washington recored 18 steals, the most by a Bucks opponent this season.
— Final bench points: Wizards 41, Bucks 14. Milwaukee's only prominent bench shooter, O.J. Mayo, left the game with hamstring soreness.
— When the Bucks outscored the Wizards 31-15 in the third quarter, they shot 61 percent compared to Washington's 26.
— Rashad Vaughn (24 minutes) played more than John Henson (17 minutes) tonight.
— The 27 turnovers by the Bucks tonight were a season-high.
- Aron Yohannes
— 27 turnovers! 12 in the fourth quarter! 36 Wizard points off turnovers! The numbers are utterly mind-boggling, especially when it comes just 24 hours after they committed a season-low five turnovers against the Bulls. But the Bucks looked completely out of sorts whenever the Wizards brought double teams or otherwise pressured the ball, and injuries to basically everyone who can dribble made their problems particularly painful in the fourth quarter.
— The Bucks' defense is...collectively braindead? That's all you can conclude after watching them continually make the same basic mistakes over and over and over...and over. Whatever improvements that you might reasonably expect to come from the experience and repetitions of playing together seems to be completely overridden by a lack of will and focus to do very simple things. Example: In the first half, Garrett Temple caught the ball on the wing and Rashad Vaughn came over to cover him. Good. Temple gives a slight fake -- really a hesitation more than anything, and Vaughn leaves him in anticipation of a swing pass. Instead he hits an open three. Then in the fourth the EXACT SAME THING happens to Khris while defending Dudley, who also hit an open three. A minute later another complete miscommunication leaves Dudley standing wide open in the corner for a backbreaking three. I don't think this group is condemned to be the worst defense in the league forever -- there has to be some team that's worse, right? -- but they look like a group that needs a few weeks of training camp to get on the same page.
— Joe Prunty gambled by starting the fourth with Middleton, Antetokounmpo and Monroe on the bench, then quickly re-thought that decision after two straight turnovers. But after benching MCW the jumbo lineup ended up being even more disastrous, turning it over five more times in a 13-0 Washington run where the Bucks were barely able to initiate a play. When he did finally put a guard in, it was Rashad Vaughn who of course also can't handle the ball. In summary: having people who can dribble is apparently important in basketball.
— Jabari's first 20-point game of the season was a welcome sight -- it's been a long time coming. Both Giannis and Jabari continually attacked Dudley on the block and going to the basket, which is pretty encouraging given a) Dudley knows those guys' games very well and b) he's a very smart defender in general. Defensively Jabari had his usual struggles and committed some killer turnovers in the fourth, but seeing him aggressive (and finishing) on the offensive end is definitely a step in the right direction.
— Giannis was a beast in the third, shaking off a slow start to score 13 by repeatedly attacking the smaller Wizards down low. His 11 rebounds and six assists also give him three straight games with at least 10 rebounds and five assists, which is a major testament to his increasing ability to affect the game even when he's not scoring. His six turnovers were unfortunately costly, but in general his ability to turn it on after an uninvolved first half is a very good sign.
— The mistake-laden fourth quarter offered few silver linings, but the mere fact that the Bucks didn't fold after falling behind by double-digits on multiple occasions is at least worth something.
— Frank Madden