Bucks bigger, but better?


Bucks bigger, but better?

MILWAUKEE (AP) The Milwaukee Bucks have a lot of new faces this season. And a lot of new size.

Scott Skiles hopes the mix, and commitment to defense, can make the Milwaukee Bucks contenders in the NBA Central Division.

``We're trying to go from having a season that we'd like to forget to having one that we would like to remember,'' he said. ``We think we can be a good team. On paper, we're longer, more athletic.''

Andrew Bogut's season lasted 12 games before the oft-injured veteran center suffered a fractured left ankle in the win at Houston on Jan. 25 and was lost for the season. His departure left the low post defense in disarray. The late acquisition of Monta Ellis put a spark back in an offense led by Brandon Jennings, but it was too late. Milwaukee missed the playoffs by four games.

``The real challenge is we've had a couple of years in a row where, really last year rather than the year before, where we didn't buy into our defensive system,'' Skiles said. ``If we do that, we'll be a good defensive team. If we don't, we won't. That's the real challenge, getting guys to buy in on that on the floor, give the effort, focus and concentrate as necessary to be a good defensive team.''

Newcomers Samuel Dalembert at 6-11 and Joel Przybilla at 7-1 add veteran savvy and a defense at center. Dalembert arrived in an offseason deal with Houston while Przybilla signed as a free agent.

Returning players Drew Gooden, Ekpe Udoh and swingman Larry Sanders were used at center last season, but are more effective at power forward. The team's first-round pick in this year's draft, forward John Henson, suffered a left knee sprain in the third preseason game and has to work back into the rotation.

With six players at 6-10 or better, Skiles has plenty of options to help the Bucks play better defense.

``We relied almost exclusively on (Bogut) to protect the rim for us,'' he said. ``Now we have multiple guys that can block shots, defend the paint and take charges.''

Guards Ellis and Brandon Jennings key the offense with veteran Beno Udrih coming off the bench. The opposition took advantage of the 6-3 Ellis and 6-1 Jennings last season. If the Bucks can improve their perimeter defense playing the two smaller guards, opponents face a much tougher time scoring, especially with the all the height protecting the rim.

The Bucks acquired Ellis in March along with Udoh and Kwame Brown for Bogut and Stephen Jackson. Ellis, who is entering his eighth NBA season, has twice the experience Jennings does.

``We felt like they played well together last year considering the lateness of the trade, the lockout year, and all that stuff the way it went down,'' Skiles said of Ellis and Jennings. ``But, having a camp together and getting to know each other a little better should be very helpful.''

Forwards Ersan Ilyasova and Mike Dunleavy, both 3-point threats, add outside scoring along with second-year player Tobias Harris and veteran swingman Marquis Daniels, who joined the Bucks shortly before training camp opened. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, arguably the team's best defender, is rehabbing after surgery on his right knee.

Skiles counts on the established pros to maintain a positive locker room.

``You need to have the right veteran guys in your locker room,'' Skiles said. ``If you're going to try to have your young guys emulate people, see the right things to do and have older guys in their ear, you need the right type of guys.''

Ellis had a simple message that could be a key to the team's chances.

``Stay positive and stay together,'' he said. ``That's the main focus. We're not like the Miamis, the Bostons and all those great teams. We got to prepare differently.''

So far, so good, according to Skiles.

``We've had good chemistry,'' he said. ``The good teams generally hit some sort of stride. They have good chemistry. You need everybody to take care of themselves. Police themselves. Not be afraid to say something to someone else.''

Skiles has had one winning season in the four years he's led the team. In 2009-10, the team finished 46-36 and made the first round of the playoffs. Is he worried about and overall record of 146-166 and being in the final year of his non-extended contract?

``I'm kind of a bottom line guy,'' he said. ``My record is my record. It is what it is. I can't run from that.''

The Bucks open the season Nov. 2 at Boston.

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

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5 must-see moments from Wizards' blowout loss to Hornets, including Bradley Beal's buzzer-beater

Here are the five best plays or moments from the Wizards' 122-105 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night...

1. This was a tough one for the Wizards. For the third time this season, they got beaten by the Hornets and for the second straight time it was in a blowout.

They still had their moments, though, including this alley-oop from Tomas Satoransky (11 points) to Markieff Morris (13 points, eight assists, six rebounds). It was the second alley-oop connection for those two in as many games:


2. This was a play that encapsulated the Wizards' night. Jodie Meeks drew a flagrant foul on Michael Carter-Williams, but took a hard shot to the head:

3. Kelly Oubre, Jr. had a solid game with 11 points, including this big dunk:


4. Speaking of Oubre, he helped the Wizards close the first half with a late surge. The real highlight was Bradley Beal stealing the ball and hitting a corner three at the buzzer:

5. Beal ended up with 33 points, six assists and six rebounds. Here's an and-1 he got to go down in the second half:

All in all, it was an ugly performance for the Wizards. To cheer you up, we'll leave you with this young fan who had a great time at Capital One Arena despite the result:



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Wizards suffer lopsided loss against Hornets, who have had their number this season

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Wizards suffer lopsided loss against Hornets, who have had their number this season

The Washington Wizards lost to the Charlotte Hornets 122-105 on Friday night. Here's analysis of what went down...

Bad matchup: Despite their poor record, there is something about this Charlotte Hornets team that gives the Wizards trouble. The Wizards lost to the Hornets (26-33) for the third time in three tries this season on Friday night and, aside from a push in the third quarter, they were never really in it.

All in all, it was a dud of a game for the Wizards who were probably due for one. They had won three straight games and eight of 10 since John Wall got injured. They were also coming off a huge road win the night before in Cleveland, a game that started an hour later than usual.

It was a tough turnaround and the Wizards sure looked like it. It was evident in their defense and unforced errors. They did, however, have a decent shooting night. They shot 49.4 percent from the field 16-for-17 from the free throw line.

The Wizards' second unit didn't provide a lift outside of Kelly Oubre, Jr. (11 points). Mike Scott, one of their best bench options, was held scoreless.


Ugly first half: The Wizards only trailed by 12 points at halftime, but that score was skewed by a five-point push in the final seconds. The Hornets dominated for much of the first two quarters and did so by hitting threes and forcing turnovers. Those mistakes dug the Wizards a hole they never recovered from.

The Wizards had 10 turnovers in the first half, the same amount they had in their entire game the night before. Limiting mistakes was a big reason they beat the Cavaliers, yet the script was flipped by Charlotte.

The Hornets capitalized with 23 points off those 10 first-half turnovers. The Wizards had 14 giveaways for the games that led to 28 total points. 

Charlotte was 7-for-11 from three at one point in the first half and finished 17-for-39 (43.6%) for the game. That is very uncharacteristic for the Wizards, who entered the night second in the NBA in opponents three-point percentage.

Again, though, the first half ended well as Oubre and Bradley Beal gave the Wizards a jolt in the final seconds:


Bad defense: The Wizards have played some great defense in recent weeks, but they just didn't have it on Friday night. Most surprising were the guys that hurt them most.

Dwight Howard was limited to 11 points and six rebounds and Kemba Walker didn't score his first points until the final minute of the first half. But others like Frank Kaminsky (23 points), Marvin Williams (15 points) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (14 points) got pretty much anything they wanted.

For Walker, it was a tale of two halves. He was held in check by Tomas Satoransky in the first half, but broke out in the third quarter and finished with 24 points and seven rebounds. Maybe it was tired legs on the Wizards' part, but Walker just kept dribbling until he got space and once he did, he knocked down shots.

Much like Kyle Lowry did a few weeks ago, Walker made adjustments to find success against Satoransky. We haven't seen that happen much since Wall went out, but those two have given him some trouble. Both guys are considerably smaller than Satoransky and very quick. Maybe there's something to that.

Add it all up and this was one of the worst defensive games of the season for the Wizards. They allowed their most points in a game since Jan. 17 against, you guessed it, the Hornets. Only three times this year have they given up more than what they allowed on Friday.

No Sessions: The Wizards did not debut their newest player on Friday night, which was probably to be expected given Ramon Sessions has not had any practice time yet. That is part of why he didn't play, but it's also another indication that he is unlikely to play much with the Wizards. Sessions is on a 10-day contract and is not expected to supplant either Satoransky or Tim Frazier at point guard. Frazier would seem to be the guy in danger of losing minutes, but it was business as usual for him against the Hornets.

Up next: The Wizards are off Saturday before returning to action at home against the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.