JOHN IS WALLIN'!
The Washington Wizards built a 20-point lead at home against the visiting Milwaukee Bucks tonight, blew it all in the 3rd quarter and then came back with a dominant 4th quarter to win by 13 points, 106-93. The main reason was another big game from Wizards point guard John Wall, who posted a second straight double-double by leading the team with 23 points and 10 assists. Wall also added 5 rebounds, 4 steals and only turned the ball over twice. With starting shooting guard Bradley Beal and backup AJ Price injured and out of the game, Wall responded by taking over the game when it mattered and the Bucks could do nothing to stop him.
Martell Webster started hot, hitting 3 3-pointers in the first quarter for the second straight game. Wall also began by smoking Brandon Jennings in the lane and Washington led 30-21 after one quarter.
In the second quarter the Wizards went on a 14-0 run to take a commanding lead 60-44 lead going into halftime. Webster had 17 points at halftime to lead all scorers, but he did little in the second half. The Wizards went with a small lineup for much of the second quarter, including playing Wall, Webster, Garrett Temple, Trevor Ariza on the floor at the same time and it worked well, with the Bucks unable to take advantage of their size advantage and instead allowing Washington to get plenty of open looks in a free-flowing game.
The third quarter was a different story, with Bucks forward Ersan Illyasova scoring 13 of his 21 points to lead the Bucks on a monster run that lasted the entire quarter. Wizards head coach Randy Wittman shuffled his lineup, but nothing worked and the Bucks outscored Washington 34-15 in the third to take a 3-point lead into the fourth quarter. During one stretch of the third the Bucks scored 28 of the game's 35 points. The Wizards had blown a huge lead and it looked as if another disappointing loss was on the way.
However, Wittman put Nene back in the game to start the final 12 minutes and the Wizards led the fourth quarter off with a 9-2 run to reverse the game momentum and regain their lead. Trevor Booker, rebounding from a poor third quarter, got things going with a big offensive rebound and putback to give the Wiz a two point lead. Fast break layups from Wall and Temple followed a Bucks score and the Wizards were up by four points. The Bucks were not done and hit several more shots, but it didn't matter because John Wall kept responding with fast breaks -- some of them a one-man show -- and key layups wrapped around a jumper or two. Nothing the Bucks did tonight could stop John Wall.
Washington's lead reached nine points when Nene found Trevor Booker for an uncontested dunk with about 5:30 left in the fourth quarter. Wall remained aggressive, hitting a beautiful floater and combined with Nene to move the ball around nicely. John Wall's defense matched his offense tonight, particularly when he drew a charge with 2:45 left in the game that led to a foul call on Larry Sanders, who flipped his lid at the call and promptly got tossed out of the game by the offended refs.
The Wizards were remarkably consistent shooting tonight, hitting 50% from the floor, a dismal 50% from the line and a sparkling 50% on 3-pointers. The Wizards won pretty much every statistical category tonight, leading 58-42 on points in paint, 31-21 on bench points
Apart from the 23 points, 10 dimes and all the rest, John Wall held Milwaukee's super-talented point guard Brandon Jennings to only 8 points. Jennings is averaging over 18 points per game this season.
Martell Webster scored 20 points, Nene scored 13, grabbed 13 rebounds, dished 6 assists and got 3 steals. Garrett Temple got another start in place of Beal and he responded with 13 points on 6-7 shooting and 4 assists. The offense slowed down badly when the Wizards tried to play Temple at point guard, but he didn't embarrass himself when playing next to John Wall.
Off the bench, Trevor Ariza pushed through the injury that kept him out of the second half of last night's loss and scored 14 points on 11 shots. Trevor Booker shocked everyone -- maybe himself included -- by coming from nowhere to score 13 points on 4-5 shooting and grab 12 rebounds. Booker took 9 free throws, hitting only 5, but his offensive aggressiveness got Illysova in foul trouble [he finished with 5], forcing the Bucks to double team when they didn't want to do it.