Key Legislature: Wizards 111 at Bucks 100 — Pierce and His Wolfpack Shake Off Cleveland Hangover | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Key Legislature: Wizards 111 at Bucks 100 — Pierce and His Wolfpack Shake Off Cleveland Hangover

By
Updated: November 23, 2014

Truth About It.net’s Key Legislature: a quick run-down and the game’s defining moment for Washington Wizards contest No. 12 versus the Bucks in Milwaukee, via Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20) from the District of Columbia.

DC Council Key Legislature

by Rashad Mobley.

It isn’t like the Wizards didn’t know the trap game was upon the them. Amid the celebratory fanfare of the victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Paul Pierce warned the media that trouble was lurking in the distance:

“You know, all year, it’s a long year, every time you have big emotional wins, and you come into the next game, those are the games that are trap games, and that is what I tried to tell the guys. You know those are the games that the great teams win, and it feels good and hopefully we can put this win behind us and move on because we have another test on a Milwaukee team that have been playing great.”

Even John Wall, whose 17 third-quarter points were instrumental in the Wizards’ win over the Cavs, completely understood that defeating Cleveland was only half of the equation:

“When you win this game, you have to back it up. You win this one and then lose [Saturday], and you’re back to [critics] saying, ‘Are they really that or really this?’ If you want to be a legit team in this league, you’ve got to go right back out and win these type of games.”

Despite warnings from a veteran with an NBA ring and the understanding of Game Changer, Washington played the first quarter in Milwaukee like a team that was clueless about how dangerous the Bucks could be. When Giannis Antetokounmpo stole a pass from Nene and drove the length of a floor for a layup to put the Bucks up 10-4, Randy Wittman had to call a timeout to try to get his Wizards to snap out of their doldrums.

It didn’t work.

The Wizards trailed 28-21 after the first quarter, and as disjointed as they looked on offense (five turnovers in the first five minutes), their defense, which was so instrumental in shutting down LeBron and the gang less than 24 hours beforehand, was porous and lacked intensity. The Bucks shot 52 percent in the first quarter, and 12 of their 28 points came in the paint Seemingly every Bucks starter was able to get their shot off at will.

Milwaukee’s bench—led by Eryan Ilyasova (seven points)—made it their business to make things worse for the Wizards by stretching the lead from seven to 15 points and Murphy’s Law was in full effect. Andre Miller overdribbled and allowed the shot clock to expire with the ball in is hands, Kris Humphries and Kevin Seraphin missed shots at close range, and even when the starters re-entered the game, the Bucks routinely beat them down the court. At one point, Pierce could be seen telling the Wizards to “get the f*ck back” on defense. A 12-5 run at the end of the second quarter (five points by Pierce and seven by Wall) prevented the Wizards from getting blown out completely.

Maybe Coach Wittman gave an inspired speech at halftime, or maybe the switch from Nene (who left with a plantar fascia injury) to Drew Gooden gave the team a spark, or maybe Pierce pulled a Keyshawn Johnson and said, “Give me the damn ball.”  Whatever the catalyst was, clearly the Wizards had a renewed commitment to defense in the third quarter.

It still wasn’t pretty, and the Wizards still struggled on offense (36 percent from the field in the third period), but they held the Bucks to just 26 percent shooting and turned a five-point halftime deficit into a seven-point lead thanks to Wall (seven points, four assists, three rebounds, and two steals in the quarter) and Pierce (seven points). The 50-50 balls that seemed to be magically falling into Milwaukee’s hands in the first half were now falling into the hands of Washington, and order seemed to be restored.

The Wizards finally found their offensive rhythm in the fourth quarter as Pierce continued to have the hot hand (eight points) and carried the team while Kris Humphries chipped in with nine points. The Bucks predictably made a run at the end of the game, but the Wizards insulated themselves from a sustained comeback loss by padding their lead—a four-point lead after three quarters turned double-digits three minutes into the fourth; Milwaukee could only get within seven points with 2:13 left.

The Wizards won 111-100 and followed up their emotional victory over the Cavaliers with hard-fought win over Milwaukee.

Said Wall after the game:

“You don’t win last night on the big stage and then come out here and get beat. Otherwise, what was the point of winning that game? This is a big statement for our team.”

The Bullets.

  • The Wizards won two close games over Cleveland and Milwaukee, and they have every right to feel good about their accomplishment. But to put it all in perspective, the Toronto Raptors—who are first in the Eastern Conference with an 11-2 record—blew out the Bucks by 42 and beat the Cavaliers by 17 in back-to-back games.
  • Otto Porter missed Saturday’s game with a sore hamstring, and Nene did not return after halftime with a foot injury. The Wizards have enough depth to offset these injuries, but the presence of both players increases their chances of winning. Porter will probably be back for Tuesday’s game against Atlanta, but Nene’s issue will be of greater concern given his extensive injury history.
  • John Wall put up gaudy numbers again (19 points, nine assists, five steals, four rebounds, and one block), but he still had significant lapses on defense (27 points by his man, Brandon Knight). And at the end of the third quarter, Wall forced two bad shots, instead of swinging the ball and making sure his teammates got good shots. It feels like nitpicking after Friday night’s brilliant performance, but “Game Changers” get held to a different standard.
  • Garrett Temple was great on defense, as usual, and played smothering on the ball defense. However, his shooting touch has disappeared and he missed all three of his attempts from the field against the Bucks. It may be time to insert Beal in the starting lineup.

The Vines.

 

Rashad Mobley on FacebookRashad Mobley on InstagramRashad Mobley on Twitter
Rashad Mobley
Reporter/Writer at TAI
Rashad has been covering the NBA and the Washington Wizards since 2008—his first two years were spent at Hoops Addict before moving to Truth About It. Rashad has appeared on ESPN and college radio, SportsTalk on NewsChannel 8 in Washington D.C., and his articles have appeared on ESPN TrueHoop, USAToday.com, Complex Magazine, and the DCist. He considers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a hero and he had the pleasure of interviewing him back in 2009.