Bucks Overcome the Wizards

The Bucks have bounced back from their overtime loss.

By Mark Hentschel

           

            The Bucks have bounced back from their overtime loss to the Atlanta Hawks to beat the Washington Wizards 100-87, and by winning they have kept their playoff hopes alive.

            With this victory, the Bucks have kept their winning streak going.  They won their last seven out of eight games.  With each win, the Bucks move higher up in the standings and are aiming to get a good playoff seed. 

           Ever since the All-Star break and acquiring John Salmons, the Bucks have been winning on a consistent basis.  The Bucks have been playing better defense against their opponents and showed it against the Wizards by holding them to 87 points.

            John Salmons has been helping the Bucks in other ways besides his stellar defense.  Salmons has been helping the Bucks with his scoring ability.  He has been averaging 20 points a game since coming to the Bucks.  He was averaging only 12 points a game with the Bulls.  Salmons would put up 22 points against the Wizards.

            The Bucks hope to end their playoff drought and make it into the playoffs.  They haven't been to the playoffs since the 2005-2006 season.  The Bucks hope with this team they can make a deep run in the playoffs unlike the 2005-2006 team where they got eliminated in the first round.   With the pace they are at now, they are set to finish with a better record and seed than the 2005-2006 team.

            In order to make the playoffs the Bucks have to keep focused.  Newly acquired shooting guard and leading scorer John Salmons explains how the Bucks try to keep focused on the playoff race.

            "We have to take one game at a time," said Salmons.  "That's the only way to do it.  Not to look to far down the line.  It's best to stay focused on the end results."

            The Bucks would have to stay focused on the Wizards if they wanted to keep their hot streak and playoff hopes alive.

THE WIZARDS PUT UP A FIGHT

            For a game that could have an effect on the playoffs, the Bradley Center was not nearly sold out.  It did not feel like a playoff atmosphere.  The attendance of the game was 13,247 people.  That leaves about 5,000 open seats. 

            The game started with the Bucks winning the tip-off.  Chants of "Let's Go Bucks" and "Defense" could be heard right away.  Squad Six, the Bucks infamous cheering section, were the loudest fans from the get-go.

            JaVale McGee, the seven foot center of the Wizards, made the first basket.  After his first basket, the Bucks passed it to Bogut in the paint.  Bogut attempted a shot, but McGee had a stellar block on Bogut.

            The Bucks offensive strategy was to go to Andrew Bogut early down in the paint.  Bogut has been hot this season and the Bucks have been successful in this strategy.  Plus, Bogut couldn't be as aggressive, seeing as he got in early foul trouble.

            The Bucks didn't score for three minutes until Bucks' point guard Brandon Jennings hit the first shot.  The Wizards' Randy Foye responded with a three pointer.  The Bucks would go to Andrew Bogut again, and he responded to his slow start with a dunk while being fouled. 

            Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, the Bucks starting power forward, has been impressed with Andrew Bogut's play.

            "I've definitely been impressed by Bogut," said Mbah a Moute.  "He's playing like an all-star this year.  He needs to continue to do that.  He's been great as being our team leader.  He's been impressive on both sides of the ball, offense and defense."

            Later in the quarter, the Bucks continued to go to Bogut.  He was successful at getting to the line and drawing fouls.  Jerry Stackhouse, the Bucks' veteran forward, came into the game and provided great defense, but the Wizards were still getting wide open shots.

            Salmons made the last basket for his first two points of the game.  Bogut led the Bucks with nine points and Foye had 10 points.  The Bucks led 28-26 at the end of the first quarter.

            Clamping Down on Defense

            AndrayBlatche, of the Wizards, started the second quarter with the first basket.  The second quarter featured many offensive fouls.  McGee continued to block shots and had three altogether in the second quarter.  Bogut would be on the bench for awhile in the second quarter.

            Jerry Stackhouse continued to be hot in the second quarter.  Ersan Ilysasova, of the Bucks, was doing a good job by finding the open man.  Stackhouse was able to steal the ball and secure a fast break basket. 

            Ilysasova was hot too coming off the bench.  The Bucks were outscoring the Wizards in the paint.  Carlos Delfino, forward of the Bucks, hit two three pointers in a row.  The Bucks led the Wizards 56-48.

            Jennings had  five  points in the first half and Salmons only had six points.  Randy Foye was the leading scorer with 14 points.  The Bucks were shooting better than the Wizards 55 percent to 53 percent.  The Bucks also were perfect from the free throw line.

TAKING CONTROL

            Mbah a Moute was back on the floor after only playing six minutes in the first half.  Carlos Delfino continued to make his three point shots, but Jennings continued to struggle to find his shot.  You could hear Scott Skiles yelling all the way up to the upper deck. 

            McGee's aggressive defense caused him to get in foul trouble in the third quarter.  The Bucks were able to maintain a 10 point lead throughout the quarter.  The Bucks clamped down on defense and held the Wizards only to 12 points in the 3rd quarter.

            During the middle of the third quarter, Bogut was able to score his first two points of the second half.  The Bucks used the full-court press defense on the Wizards.  The Wizards would have two technical fouls in the third quarter.  The Bucks led 77-60 after three quarters.

            THE NAIL IN THE COFFIN

            The Bucks continued to use the full court press.  The Bucks also went with a smaller line-up.  Stackhouse continued to play well by hitting a three and having a block.  McGee continued to get second chance points.

            Stackhouse also continued his great defense by getting a steal and passing to Ilyasova that led to a dunk.  Bogut stepped up his defense and had a block himself.  The Bucks did get in foul trouble.

            After Jennings continued to struggle shooting the ball, Skiles yanked Luke Ridnour off the bench to sub for Jennings.  Ridnour has been extremely effective and is a candidate for 6th man of the year, but that doesn't matter to Ridnour.

            "I don't pay attention to this stuff about being 6th man of the year," said Ridnour.  "I just come in and do what I can help the team win.  The other stuff doesn't matter.  It's all about getting to the playoffs."

            The Bucks ended up with the victory 100-87.  Salmons had 22 points and Jennings shot 2-12.  Delfino and Ilysasova both had double-doubles.  Stackhouse was hot off the bench providing 13 points. 

           

 

           

 

           

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