Assistant coach Sam Cassell and Randy Wittman look on in disgust as their Wizards crumbled like a cookie Monday at Verizon.
WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- Coming off a late flight from Toronto on Sunday evening, the Washington Wizards stood no chance against the Milwaukee Bucks Monday at the Verizon Center. Especially without two of their top three players -- Nene and Trevor Booker -- who were both held out with plantar fasciitis.
The new-look Bucks throttled Washington 112-98 and were never threatened by the Wizards after ending the first quarter on a 15-2 run. Five Milwaukee players finished with at least 15 points, led by Brandon Jennings' 19. The lefty guard poured in 15 points alone in the third quarter to ensure any type of comeback from Washington would be put to rest.
"We were undermanned, that was a given. Tonight I thought our legs looked heavy...This stretch that we are going through -- not to make excuses -- but that's going to happen," proclaimed Wizards head coach Randy Wittman postgame.
Jan Vesely played his best game as a Wizard, scoring a career-high 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Surprisingly, the Wizards hit 7-of-18 from downtown, stroked 19-of-20 free throws and forced the Bucks into 19 turnovers. But it was Milwaukee's depth that "took the wind out of our sails" according to Wittman.
John Wall had another rough outing Monday and clearly wasn't getting many calls on drives to the basket. The sophomore guard posted 14 points on 4-for-13 shooting and totaled nine assists. When I asked him about playing more off-ball following the loss, he didn't seem too receptive to the idea.
"We can do that at times, but I am more of a point guard [getting] my teammates involved. If I am tired, or need a break, or if Jordan [Crawford] has it going, you can put him on the ball," spoke Wall.
I think a more appropriate answer would've been 'I'm willing to try anything to make this team better'. To Wall's credit, his assist numbers are some of the best in the NBA with the childish lineups the Wizards are forced to play. But the way he is currently playing in the half court is completely muting his athleticism. I know finding Wall on cuts to the basket or even posting up his defender would dramatically improve his repertoire as a scorer, which is ultimately why he was the number one overall pick. Experimenting in live games will be a key to unlocking Wall's full offensive potential.
Clearly it's tough to compete without your staunch big men, but how distant of a memory does John Wall's 38-point explosion against the Rockets seem? The killer-instinct we all saw in February has been minimized to a quiet roar. Let's hope for one more gem from the North Carolina native over the final 13 games.
Wednesday marks the start of another Wizards three game stretch in three days. Washington will host the Pacers before traveling to Detroit and New Jersey. Going anything more than 1-2 during this stretch would almost feel like Christmas morning.