Milwaukee Bucks' Team Effort Takes Care of Business Against Washington Wizards
The Milwaukee Bucks used a full team effort to take down the visiting Washington Wizards 102-81 on their way to opening the season 2-1. Five players scored in double figures for the Bucks, who have won two straight at home after opening up the season with a loss in Charlotte.
Just as he did in the first two games of the season, Brandon Jennings finished the game as the Bucks' leading scorer with 22 points. Ersan Ilyasova finished with 16 points, Carlos Delfino scored 15 points in his season debut and Mike Dunleavy and Andrew Bogut each added 13 points.
After toying with the Washington Wizards early in the game, the Bucks used a 23-8 run in the first quarter to turn a 10-10 tie into a 33-18 lead.
Dunleavy, Ilyasova, Jennings and Delfino all hit threes in the quarter as the Bucks jumped out to a 36-24 lead at the end of first.
Instead of Jennings and Bogut running the show, it was Ilyasova and Dunleavy. The duo combined for 19 of the Bucks 36 first-quarter points. Ilyasova had his best shooting performance of the season: He finished 6-8 and 3-5 from the free-throw line.
Dunleavy created all types of problems getting to the free-throw line at will and hitting open jumpers. Dunleavy finished the game 3-4 from the field and 5-8 from the free-throw line while also collecting five rebounds.
Without a go-to star player, the Bucks are going to struggle at times, unless they move the ball and hit jumpers like they did in the first half against the Wizards. While the Bucks looked unstoppable as they hit jumper after jumper, got to the free-throw line and moved the ball seamlessly, it will be difficult for the Bucks to retain this level of play.
This was the case as the Bucks struggled again in the third quarter and opened the door to a potential comeback for the Wizards.
The Bucks continued their strong play in the second quarter. Ahead 46-33, the Bucks went on a 15-4 run to take a 24-point lead at 61-37 with 1:52 remaining in the first half. The teams traded points to the end of the quarter as the Bucks were on pace to blow out the Wizards in the second half up 65-41.
Contributions came all over from the Bucks as Shaun Livingston hit back-to-back jumpers in the quarter and added three assists. Dunleavy continued his dominant first-half hitting another three and Bogut got Bradley Center rocking with a monstrous reverse jam over three defenders. Delfino finished the quarter with seven points.
Similar to Tuesday's victory against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Bucks struggled in the third quarter and opened the door for the Wizards. Using their unnatural amount of athleticism, the Wizards won the quarter 26-13 and cut the lead to 11 points.
Instead of smoothly moving the ball, the Bucks were stagnant on offense and struggled to score. Jumpers stopped falling, the rim looked like it decreased in size and the Bucks couldn't get anything going.
This is where the Bucks could suffer at times this season. When jumpers aren't falling and things aren't going their way, they don't have a consistent go-to scorer like most of the top teams in the league.
Jennings is the closest thing they have to that, but he is fairly inconsistent in general.
It looked as if the game would be close down the stretch: Jordan Crawford cut down the lane and lobbed up a pass of JaVale McGee, who slammed down the ally-oop with force to cut the Bucks' lead to 78-69.
After getting huge contributions from role players throughout the game, it was in fact Jennings and Bogut that helped to put the game away in the fourth quarter. The duo combined for 11 of the 24 points in the quarter as Jennings shredded the Wizards' defense for eight points.
Midway through the fourth quarter with the Bucks ahead 88-77, Bogut and Jennings spurred an 8-0 run to finally bury the Wizards. Bogut got in the lane for an easy bucket and Beno Udrih scored on an assist from Jennings.
Before hitting a jumper to cap the 8-0 run, Jennings cut through the lane, went up in traffic with the ball in his left had, contorted his body away from the oncoming defender and finished a reverse layup off the glass.
Jennings had another solid performance for the Bucks as he finished 8-15 from the field and 5-8 from the free-throw line. Alongside his 22 points, Jennings finished with five assists, but four turnovers.
Bogut lead the way rebounding with 15 boards.
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