The Washington Wizards lost to the Bucks 114-102 in Milwaukee on Thursday night. Here are five observations from what went down...
The Milwaukee Bucks were missing two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and All-Star Khris Middleton, arguably their two best players, but on Thursday they showed the Wizards they have plenty of firepower left on their roster; the type of supporting cast that can contribute to a championship.
Jrue Holiday went off for 24 points, while Pat Connaughton and Serge Ibaka combined for 25 points off the Bucks' bench. The Wizards, meanwhile, had another rough night offensively following their disaster of a loss to the Rockets. Between the second half in Houston and the first half on Thursday, the Wizards scored only 76 points across four quarters.
That poor start did enough damage to prevent what would have been a mighty comeback. The Wizards were down by 28 points in the first half and charged back to cut it ot seven in the fourth quarter. The Bucks, though, were able to pull away.
The Wizards have now lost eight of their last nine games and fell to 30-42 on the year. That clinches their fourth straight losing season. While it has been a slow build to get to this point, certainly that is not what anyone expected heading into the year.
Settling for jumpers
Without Antetokounmp in the middle, one might think there would be an opening for the Wizards to get into the lane and do some damage. That did not take place, at least not early, as Washington came out sticking strictly to outside shots. They didn't get their first points in the paint until there was 1:21 left in the first quarter. Meanwhile, they weren't making their threes, as they started 1-for-14 from long range. So, it wasn't a good combination for offense.
To be fair, Antetokounmpo isn't the only rim-protector the Bucks have. The Wizards also rallied to outdo the Bucks 44-to-38 in paint points, but that lack of aggression early helped Milwaukee set the tone and it dug the Wizards an early hole, as they scored only 13 points in the first quarter.
Rui and Ish were solid
Not much went right for the Wizards in this game, but Rui Hachimura was a relative positive. He came out and dropped 10 points to go along with seven rebounds, though he didn't have his best shooting night. Hachimura shot just 5-for-11 overall and went 0-for-3 from three. This was his ninth consecutive game reaching double-figures. In fact, the only players on the Wizards this season with longer double-digit scoring streaks are Bradley Beal, Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma.
Ish Smith probably had the best game of anyone on the Wizards. He scored 17 points to go along with six assists and seven rebounds. He had 13 points in the fourth quarter to give the team some late life. His boost of energy was much-needed after a lackluster start.
Grayson Allen, smh
There was a very Grayson Allen moment in this game. Late in the third quarter, he was running by Tomas Satoransky and took a little bit of contact and turned it into a flagrant foul. Satoransky reached his arm out and essentially clotheslined Allen, though judging by Satoranksy's reaction, he seemed to think it was a flop.
Regardless, it worked as the referees reviewed the play and called it a flagrant one. Allen, of course, has both a history of flopping and of pulling tricks, so a conspiracy theorist might say some funny business took place. Still, he got what he wanted. Allen also had a big night with 21 points.
Kuzma out again
Kyle Kuzma sat out for the third straight game with right knee tendinitis, which has proven to be a more stubborn injury than head coach Wes Unseld Jr. orignically indicated. Perhaps it's that, or the Wizards realize there's absolutely no reason to push it given how things are trending in the standings.
Given the usually lingering nature of tendinitis, you have to wonder how many more games Kuzma will play this year. Perhaps the Wizards could see value in him continuing to develop chemistry with Kristaps Porzingis. Those two have already showed some positive signs on the court together and their partnership is going to be an important one going forward.