Thursday, December 3, 2009

Wizards hold on to defeat Bucks

Playing in the second game of a back-to-back, the Wizards survived some solid performances from unlikely players on the Bucks and held on late for a 104-102 win at home.

Despite holding Brandon Jennings and Andrew Bogut to 25 points and a combined (and inefficient) 11-35 from the field, the Wizards allowed starter Charlie Bell and bench players Hakim Warrick and Luke Ridnour to almost score at will. Bell finished with 15 points on 6-11 shooting, while Warrick and Ridnour each had 20 points -- Warrick's on 6-9 shooting (and an 8-8 mark from the free throw line) and Ridnour's on 9-16 shooting. If that wasn't enough, the Wizards also turned the ball over 17 times; the Bucks only had nine turnovers.

Three things saved Washington in this game: strong rebounding, good shooting, and an ability to get to the free throw line more than Milwaukee.

Rebounding: The Wizards outrebounded the Bucks 42-36, and Brendan Haywood led the team with 14 boards. Haywood also managed to keep Bogut off the glass -- he only had seven rebounds in 39 minutes.

Shooting: The Bucks made nine three-pointers, six more than the Wizards, but Washington shot better from the field -- 54.3 percent to 44.2 percent. Gilbert Arenas had a team-high 22 points, but he only made 10 of 24 shots. Nick Young was right behind him with 21 (on 7-12 shooting). Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler each chipped in 15 points.

Free throws: While the Bucks shot just 12 free throws, the Wizards shot 34, though they only made 25 of them. Butler and Earl Boykins each got to the line 10 times.

Some leftover thoughts/concerns on this game:

- I'm impressed with Young. He turned the ball over five times last night, which is too much, but he shot well from the field and seems to play well with the other starters. I wasn't sure if he'd be able to bounce back from not playing much to start the season, but he worked hard and is certainly contributing right now. I'm not sure if Randy Foye is completely healthy or not, but Young's recent play and the presence of Earl Boykins have really cut into Foye's minutes. Last night, Foye played only five minutes and didn't score a point.

- Speaking of Boykins, why exactly is he the one making plays in crunch time? Don't get me wrong, that late-game pass to Haywood for a dunk and his pump fake to get fouled with only a second or so left to win the game were both great plays, but where is Arenas in those situations? Even though things worked out this time, it's frustrating to see Arenas in the game without the ball in his hands. I never thought I'd see a crucial play late in a game where a healthy Arenas isn't the one with the ball. Arenas seems to have no problem deferring to Boykins -- but in the long run, is that a good thing?

- What was Flip Saunders's (or the rest of the coaching staff's) reasoning behind not making Boykins miss that final free throw? With that made free throw, the Bucks were able to move the ball all the way up the court and at least have a chance to win the game. Obviously the Bucks missed the shot, so it's not a big deal, but the Wizards haven't exactly been awesome when it comes to stopping plays like that. Just an odd move.

Anyway, the Wizards get a win and move to 7-10 on the season. Next up: Toronto at home on Friday.

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