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Dave Johnson: Bucks Stop Wizards Again

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Dave Johnson: Bucks Stop Wizards Again

Friday, March 5, 2010 9:24pm

By Dave Johnson
CSNWashington.com Washington---As a player in the NBA Scott Skiles was a determined hard-nosed defender. Skiles is now the head coach of Milwaukee, and his influence again was on display as the Bucks for the second consecutive game shut down the Washington Wizards in a 102-74 win. The Bucks did not allow the Wizards offense a chance. Like they did in their win on Wednesday, the Bucks put heavy pressure on the Wizards guards and the result was an offense lacking in flow and execution. As a team the Wizards only had ten assists. The Bucks had 11-assists in the first quarter and finished with 27 for the game. The Wizards were also held to 37 percent shooting from the field and were outscored in the paint 44-28. Milwaukee plays just like us but they have been playing together for a longer period of time, said Wizards head coach Flip Saunders. We are still trying to work on our execution. We have to stick to playing in our system because sometimes players try to do too much and it hurts us sometimes. In zeal to make things happen Andray Blatche did not shoot well, only five of sixteen from the field, but still led the Wizards in scoring with 13-points along with JaVale McGee. Blatche did better with being double-teamed and had three assists and only one turnover, while McGee played through a lopsided game with great energy and also had 11-rebounds and four blocked shots. Andrew Bogut and Carlos Delfino each had 19-points to lead the Bucks in scoring. Bogut also had 10 rebounds and helped the Bucks to a 51-42 advantage on the boards. Bogut also had five blocked shots including in the fourth quarter to help cancel out any possible Wizards comeback attempt. In addition Bogut and the Bucks forwards were effective in running the floor and presented a challenge in transition where the Bucks had a 20-1 domination in fast-break points on the Wizards. The Wizards got in trouble early and there never was a real senses they would be able to find their way back against the Bucks.In the first quarter the Bucks used a 13-0 run in which they made nine consecutive shots to open up a 22-11 lead with 4:12 remaining. Eighteen of the Bucks first twenty four points were in the paint and then they tighten their defense in the second quarter to further push away from the Wizards. By half-time the Wizards only had three turnovers but they missed 21 of their last 26 shots and were down 51-36. We have to bring energy. Thats what was disappointing tonight because we have been playing hard, noted Wizards guard Mike Miller. Tonight they outworked us. When were undermanned like we are we have to move the ball and play together. In order for us to be good we have to share the ball and play hard. While sharing the ball the Wizards are hoping to find more options. Miller, who is shooting above 50 percent on the season, only took six shots to score six points, while Al Thornton continued to struggle with just six points on two of four shooting from the field. He has been very sore, Saunders said of Thornton. He is just hurt and hes not use to playing the minutes that hes playing right now. When Josh (Howard) went down all of a sudden he had to step up and work a little more. I think that has taken a toll on him. The Wizards could also use a spark off the bench. Earl Boykins did have 12 points, but Nick Young only had two points. In the last six games Young is eight of twenty six shooting from the field. Its not that, were just having tough games, and some shots arent falling, Blatche added. Were just not playing with the same fight and chemistry, and we need to get back to that. We need to have that same hunger inside of us.

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How one half of assertive basketball may turn around the Wizards' season

How one half of assertive basketball may turn around the Wizards' season

The fat lady wasn’t warming up to sing an operatic number, not with 66 games left in the regular season. Then the flailing Washington Wizards, coming off consecutive double-digit losses, came out flat yet again. They trailed the Los Angeles Clippers by 19 points at halftime some 36 hours after the general public heard about their private quarrels and following weeks of basketball nightmares. 

As the Clippers scored 40 points in the first quarter and led 73-54 at halftime. she might have at least begun some mental prep for an upcoming performance. Then came the comeback within the comeback. The Wizards rallied for a 125-118 win when all the world was ready to say sayonara. 

Did Washington indeed save its season by outscoring Los Angeles 71-45 in the second half? Answering 'yes' presumes all is right with the gang that has struggled to defend throughout the season and possibly has chemistry issues even a family therapist couldn’t fix with thrice-weekly sessions. 

The day began with coach Scott Brooks and the team’s stars addressing leaks of intense arguments among players and a scolding by All-Star John Wall directed to the head coach. There was no spark initially even with a different starting lineup. 

The first half served as a season-long microcosm. It’s why rumors of breaking up the team seem plausible. 

Over the remaining 24 minutes, the Wizards finally woke up. They flew around the court defensively and passed to the open man. The stars led. The team played like a group wanting to play for each other, willing to do whatever necessary for a win.

John Wall finished with 30 points. Bradley Beal scored 27. Otto Porter grabbed 14 rebounds to go with 11 points. Six players scored in double figures. Everybody ate. 

“That’s how we need to play,” Beal told NBC Sports Washington. “Not going to say everything is fixed because we were still down [24 points], still have a lot of work to do. Got a lot of to change and get better. Our effort was there in the second half. That’s the type of intensity we have to have for the full 48.”

Numerous moments and performances stood out in the second half beyond the main players. Tomas Satoransky’s hustle helped begin the turnaround. Thomas Bryant, who started with Dwight Howard sidelined, provided interior energy. Jeff Green dropped 20 points. Markieff Morris, coming off the bench for the first time since Feb. 29, 2016, showed more than in recent games.

One play deep in the fourth quarter showed the difference between 16 games of defensive slumber and Tuesday’s resolve. 

The clock ticked under five minutes with Los Angeles leading 109-107. Clippers forward Tobias Harris crushed the Wizards early and finished with 29 points. He had the ball near the left corner when Wall and Beal sprung an aggressive trap as the shot clock wound down. Morris over hustled for support. The late arrival helped. Shot clock violation, Wizards ball. Washington then took the lead with a Morris 3-pointer. They soon pulled away with an 11-2 run. Their main players showed the way.

“We have to,” Beal said to NBC Sports Washington. “When it’s coming from the main guys. John and I have to give more, more and more. That’s something we realize and tell each other that. That’s that only way we’re going to get out of it. We just have to give more.”

The Thanksgiving holiday provides a natural break. Washington resumes game action Friday at Toronto. At 6-11, the Wizards have work to do, but at least they can catch their breath after a surreal span. 

“It’s a whirlwind. It’s a whirlwind,” said Beal, who remained in the game after suffering a cut over his eye following a head-butt collision with Clippers guard Tyrone Wallace. “We embrace it. Everything is a challenge. It’s adversity. We’ve been in this situation before. We’ve been in this situation where everybody thinks we have an issue. I think we did a great job of ignoring it as best we could. Doing what we could to get a win. A  much-needed win at that.”

Clippers coach Doc Rivers monitors the Wizards because his son, Austin, serves Beal’s primary backup. More film work came leading into the second meeting between the teams. Los Angeles hammered Washington 136-104 on Oct. 28. Things were only getting worse for the Wizards. Then came the second half.

“They just forgot about the stuff they’re going through and got back to playing basketball,” Doc Rivers said of the Wizards.

“I’ve always thought that’s what you have to do. Every guy out there on both teams, they played basketball all their lives. Then you get all the, what I call ‘stuff.’ The clutter starts affecting your game. Tonight you could see the clutter was killing them early. Then when they saw they had a chance to win, they started playing basketball again.”

Assume nothing but sunshine and swishes going forward if you must. Ideally, the Wizards do not. They have work remaining. In the second half against the Clippers, Wall, Beal, and crew rose up. In doing so, the fat lady took a seat.

We’ll see for how long.

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Markieff Morris unhappy with leaks coming out of Wizards' locker room

Markieff Morris unhappy with leaks coming out of Wizards' locker room

The Wizards had just completed a 24-point comeback against the L.A. Clippers, but something wasn't sitting right with power forward Markieff Morris.

When asked by a reporter if it was nice to get the win given their recent losing and the media controversy surrounding the team, Morris couldn't help but wonder who it was who leaked comments made by players behind closed doors at a practice last week.

There were very specific quotes cited by several media outlets and Morris wants to know where they came from. 

"It's f***ed up what's going on," he said.

"The comments that's coming from the locker room, that's f***ed up."

Morris went on to say that anonymous sources leaking information shouldn't "happen in sports." Many professional athletes see the locker room and team-only events like practice as sacred. Anyone who breaks that code is, in their eyes, a traitor.

If Morris knew who the information came from, it sounds like he would do something about it.

"I don't know who it is, so it's hard to address. But it's messed up," he said.

Which player or member of the organization spilled the beans could be a question for this team all season. It doesn't sound like Morris will forget that it happened.

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