The Washington Wizards welcomed the Milwaukee Bucks to the Verizon Center tonight by dealing a potentially fatal blow to the visitor's playoff hopes by winning 121-112, thanks to some big shooting by Jordan Crawford and the return of Nene. The win improved Washington's record to 16-46 and dropped the Bucks to 29-32.
Virtually the entire Wizards team contributed to the win, with 11 players scoring and 7 putting up double digits in points. Jordan Crawford was the leader, though, as he got behind early in a scoring contest with Milwaukee shooting guard Monta Ellis, but then came on in the second half to win that skirmish. Crawford tied his season high with 32 points and did it on only 17 shots, hitting 11 of them. Crawford made a number of impressive, off balance shots in the paint after a drive, but the highlight was probably the 28-foot 3 p-pointer he made just before the shot clock buzzer went off late in the fourth quarter. The three points expanded Washington's narrow lead, blunting a comeback charge by the Bucks. Crawford hit 9 of 12 free throws, dished 3 assists and grabbed four rebounds. His nemesis all night, Monta Ellis, who has been on a scoring tear the last two weeks, scored 31 points on 25 shots.
As a team the Wizards shot very well tonight -- 56% from the field and 54% on 3-pointers. Washington scored at least 28 points in every quarter and topped 30 points twice. The Bucks shot 45% from the field and 26% on 3-pointers. The Wizards spread the scoring around the team, with the bench chipping in 43 points, compared to only 17 by the Milwaukee reserves.
Prominent off the bench for the Wizards was center Nene, who came back after missing ten games with plantar fascitis in his left foot. [Forward Trevor Booker, who suffered the same injury in his left foot in the same game, is not expected to return this season.] Nene scored 14 points [7-12 FG] and grabbed four rebounds in only 18 minutes of play, including one stretch where he scored three straight buckets, two on outside jumpers. Nene also blocked two shots and generally provided the smooth offensive play, stretching defenses, that the Wizards wanted when they traded for him.
Also playing well off the bench were Shelvin Mack [6 assists], James Singleton [11 points, 5 rebounds], and Cartier Martin, who scored 7 points on only two shots -- both 3-pointers he swished.
John Wall ran the show nicely, scoring only 14 points on 13 shots, but dishing 10 assists and he made a crucial layup bucket late in the fourth to help maintain a Wizards lead. Kevin Seraphin, starting at center again, scored 14 points and pulled down five rebounds, rookie Chris Singleton had 10 points and 5 boards in 17 minutes, and rookie Jan Vesely impressed me with some tenacious defense and ten manly rebounds in just over 26 minutes. Vesely looked completely lost for much of the season, but we're starting to see some good things as he's getting more playing time. The kid still has no shot [like John Wall] and he needs to work a lot on that during the offseason [like John Wall]. But Vesely is a pretty good rebounder, a willing defender, he runs the floor very well and finishes nicely around the basket. You can see the athleticism and length the Wizards liked when they drafted him last year. What we need to see now is a bit more muscle and a lot more jumpers.
Washington has only two home games remaining, against Miami and Charlotte.
WIZARDS PLAYER OF THE GAME
Jordan Crawford: 32 points, 11-17 FG, 9-12 FT, 4 REB, 3 assists, +10 court ratio
Starters Min FG 3Pt FT Rb As TO St Bk Pts J. Wall 35 5-13 0-0 4-7 3 10 4 0 1 14 J. Crawford 34 11-17 1-3 9-12 4 3 3 1 0 32 K. Seraphin 29 6-12 0-0 2-2 5 0 1 0 0 14 J. Vesely 26 4-6 0-0 0-0 10 3 1 1 0 8 N. Hilario 18 7-12 0-0 0-1 4 1 0 0 2 14
|Fast Break Pts:||14||15|
|Points in the Paint:||52||52|
|Points||Ellis 31||Crawford 32|
|Rebounds||Gooden 12||Vesely 10|
|Assists||2 players 6||Wall 10|
|Steals||2 players 3||2 players 2|
|Blocks||2 players 2||Nene 2|