Key Legislature: Wizards 106 vs Bucks 101 — Jekyll, Then Hyde, Then Jekyll Again | Wizards Blog Truth About

Key Legislature: Wizards 106 vs Bucks 101 — Jekyll, Then Hyde, Then Jekyll Again

Updated: January 14, 2016

TAI’s Key Legislature… The game’s defining moment, its critical event, the wildest basketball thing you ever saw, or just stuff that happened. Wizards vs Bucks, Regular Season Game 37, Jan. 13, 2016, by Rashad Mobley (@rashad20).

It is a clichéd sentiment, but Washington’s 106-101 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks Wednesday night was a microcosm of the 2015-2016 season thus far. There were injuries, a return from injury, unlikely heroes, an unnecessary struggle against a beatable team, and an entire quarter’s worth of offensive and defensive lapses. Also, while less common for this sub-.500 team: a convincing stretch of basketball that led to a win.

The most notable subplot of the evening was the return of Bradley Beal from a 16-game absence due to a stress reaction. He entered the game for Otto Porter with 3:29 left in the first quarter to a standing ovation from the Verizon Center crowd. Even John Wall took time to applaud the return of his backcourt mate.

Beal’s first basket came via a 19-footer, he passed up a second basket on a fastbreak to throw a textbook bounce pass to Ramon Sessions for an easy layup, and Beal dunked home his second score after Jared Dudley steal. Beal made his first three shots, missed his next four, but not one time did he appear to favor his leg, despite falling to the floor more than once. He played 22 minutes total, including the last 5:40 when the game still hung in the balance (because the Wizards could not hold a 13-point lead). On at least two occasions, the Bucks were so focused on the outside shooting capabilities of Beal that Dudley—who is third in the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage—had two open, game-clinching looks. Randy Wittman thought Beal looked good, but got “winded” and “wobbly.” Beal remarked that he was surprised how good he felt.

The Wizards, before Beal entered the fray, jumped out to an 11-point lead in the first quarter. John Wall was his usual giving self with six assists to go along with his seven points. As a result, nine of the ten Wizards who played scored at least three points (except for DeJuan Blair, of course).

Otto Porter led the Wizards with eight first-quarter points, and Garrett Temple was the utility man. He had six points, five steals (victimizing Khris Middleton and Jabari Parker), and was the catalyst for the Wizards’ eight fastbreak points. Temple also had this John Wall-like block on O.J. Mayo:

Ramon Sessions picked up the scoring slack in the second quarter with eight points, but, as a team, the Wizards showed signs of falling off defensively. Sixteen of Milwaukee’s 25 points were scored in the paint (they did not make a 3-pointer the entire first half), with Greg Monroe (11 points) doing most of the damage. Nene picked up two quick fouls and was forced to sit, and with no Kris Humphries (knee) and no Marcin Gortat (knee infection), the job of center/big man was left to Drew Gooden and the aforementioned Blair. Neither were particularly effective, and the 13-point lead the Wizards carried into halftime looked tenuous at best.

Then came the dreadful third quarter.

Even with the second-quarter lapses in defense, first halves like the one the Wizards played against the lowly but potent Bucks are enough sway even the most cynical Wizards fans into believing that they’re watching a playoff team. Then the third quarter comes and the Wizards shoot 26 percent from the field while allowing the Bucks to shoot 61 percent. They lost the battle of the paint by surrendering 20 points inside and gave up 14 defensive rebounds. Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounpmo scored on Beal, Dudley, and Porter at will, while arguably the best player to matchup with Giannis, young Kelly Oubre, stayed glued to the bench until there were 27.3 seconds left in the third quarter.

During that quarter, the Bucks used a 21-5 run to lead 74-71 going into the fourth. Coach Wittman dismissed the third-quarter performance as a lapse in mindset. The Bucks “jumped on us,” he said. Wall, as one would expect from the leader of a team, had a more nuanced explanation for his team’s lapses:

“[We]started the third and didn’t do a great job stopping the 1-on-1 and giving some resistance in the post. That was the only thing that hurt us. We knew they weren’t going to shoot a lot of jump shots and they got a lot of points in the paint.”

Dudley opted for the blunt approach. “Defensively, I was terrible in the third and fourth quarter, I couldn’t get a stop. Giannis and Jabari had their way with me,” Dudley said after game.

The Wizards began the fourth quarter on a 12-0 run that not only undid all of their third quarter sins, but also (basically) put away the game. Kelly Oubre and Nene harassed poor Michael Carter-Williams into two turnovers in less than a minute—and MCW found himself on the bench the remainder of the game. From that moment on, the Wizards energy level—especially on D—rose exponentially. Nene stole the ball from Johnny O’Bryant, Gooden picked off a John Henson pass, and John Wall stole a pass from Giannis. Yes, it was disappointing that Oubre’s energy was suppressed until the fourth quarter, but Wittman played him just in time to save the game.

The Wizards did get sloppy toward the end of the fourth quarter, but those two 3-points shots by Dudley (who was open thanks to threat of Beal) ended any realistic chances the Bucks had to win. The Wizards had seven players in double-figures, they got significant contributions from players recently returning from injury (Nene and Beal), and they gutted out a tough win against a poor team. The question now is, what does it all mean?

The Wizards have won three straight games, they are one game away from .500 and 1.5 games from the 8-seed in the Eastern Conference. Beal and Nene are back, Gortat and Humphries figure to return soon, and with or without the debut of Alan Anderson, the Wizards have the makings of a deep team that can make a playoff run. Just ask Beal. “A lot of teams are going to start realizing when we’re healthy, we’re going to be tough to beat,” he said.

But the scary side of the Wizards—the side they showed in the entire third quarter and parts of the fourth—is that of a team whose players lack toughness (excluding Nene, whose toughness was praised by Wall, Beal and Dudley after the game) and whose coach lacks imagination. As Dudley alluded to after the game, the Wizards knew O.J. Mayo was injured and Michael Carter-Williams was the only pure point guard on the roster, so pressuring the perimeter and denying the paint was the plan—it wasn’t executed. And Coach Wittman consistently praises Oubre for his hustle and defense, but inexplicably sat him for three quarters on a night when Gary Neal was off and Porter left prematurely due to hip soreness. Those Wizards, along with the injuries, of course, leave one to wonder whether the 18-19 record is indicative of larger issues that are less easily corrected.

“That is the NBA. Different team, different night, different schemes. But that is what we talk about every night in regards to being consistent.”  —Milwaukee Bucks Assistant Coach Joe Prunty

Kelly’s Calistenics.

#NeneHands, Sessions Slam.

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,, Complex Magazine, and the DCist. He considers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a hero and he had the pleasure of interviewing him back in 2009.