Milwaukee Bucks play three quarters of domination in win over Washington Wizards

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Corey Maggette

The Milwaukee Bucks weathered the storm of a nasty December-January schedule in a way that made the Perfect Storm shipmen look like they were on an Alaskan cruise. But now that it’s over, the Bucks kicked off the NBA’s easiest second half schedule with a 100-87 win over the Washington Wizards, who are now 0-20 on the road this season.

By Jake McCormick

The Bucks dominated the Wizards for the remaining 36 minutes after falling behind 27-19 after the first quarter, but coach Scott Skiles was the first to point out the road ahead isn’t easy street because of one win that came without John Salmons (sore hip) and an effective Andrew Bogut (the flu limited him to 6 points and 9 rebounds).

“We came out a little bit slow after the first couple minutes of the game, but we played much better in the second half,” Skiles said. “We made better plays on the defensive end and we stepped up out effort. However, we can’t be satisfied with tonight’s game.”

Notable Milwaukee Bucks performers:

Corey Maggette (21 pts, 7-18 fg, 7-7 ft, 5 rbs, 4 asts, 2 stls) is looking as good as he has all season, in part because of a newfound ability to hit jumpers while still holding the title of the Human Foul Magnet.

Keyon Dooling had his best game in a Bucks uniform, notching a season-high 23 points on 9-11 field goals (3-3 beyond the arc) and flashing some nifty moves in the paint while taking advantage of open jumpers. Dooling was especially effective in the second half, where he led the team with 14 points while only missing one of six shots (it was a three pointer, for the record.

Earl Boykins (19 pts, 5-10 fg, 2-2 3fg, 7-8 ft, 4 asts, 2 stls) was a major spark off the bench for the Bucks with his quick pull up jumpers and ability to fit into tight spots in the lane and draw fouls. Boykins was just as effective as Maggette in getting to the line early.

Milwaukee Bucks in-game observations:

The Milwaukee Bucks’ first quarter was the visual equivalent of Hassan Whiteside reading Shakespeare. Milwaukee finished the quarter shooting 27.8%, while assuring the much more athletic Washington Wizards free reign of the paint (9/13).

As has often been the case in a season soaked in underachievement, the Bucks followed up a putrid first quarter with an efficient second (55.6% shooting), highlighted by an Earl Boykins/Corey Maggette ally-oop connection.

Wizards forward Andray Blatche (15 first half points) went Ike Turner on Milwaukee’s interior defense in the first half, but the Bucks’ defense picked up and limited his second half contributions to eight points. John Wall was fairly quiet all game (save for 13 assists), but he did have a juke move on Keyon Dooling on a three man break that made the 10 year vet look like a rookie.

As good as the second quarter was, the third was even better for the Bucks. Milwaukee outscored Washington 28-17 and shot 68.8% while limiting the Wizards to five successful shots in 20 attempts.

Pessimist: Hitting the snooze button

Almost halfway through the season, it’s reasonable to call the Milwaukee Bucks the worst starting team in the NBA. Milwaukee ranks dead last in the league in average first quarter points (23.1), and any other average team would’ve taken the Bucks out back after going up 27-19 to start the game.

“If we were playing Orlando or Boston we have to play better than that and the guys know that,” Skiles said. “We’re happy with the win, but we can’t be in celebration mode. There are a lot of things we have to do better.”

Optimist: Corey Maggette is hitting shots

Since Corey Maggette graded his experience on the Milwaukee Bucks as an F-, he’s been a major offensive asset to the team in more ways than just his usual “drive the lane and see what happens” style.

Over the past five games, Maggette is connecting on 48% of his shots between 10 and 23 feet from the basket, and is averaging 18.2 points on 50% shooting overall and 92.5% from the line. It’s probably no coincidence that this spike in production has come when he is slotted in the starting lineup.

“It’s a different type of situation as a starter,” Maggette said. “You can be more patient, more opportunities come your way, and I just try to take advantage of the opportunity.”

Realist: Work Hard. Play Hard.

The mantra of “Work Hard. Play Hard.” is probably the second most repeated phrase on the Bradley Center jumbo-tron next to “Go Bucks Go.” Despite outscoring the Wizards 81-60 over the final three quarters, Bucks coach Scott Skiles was very clear that the slogan was not followed as well as he had liked.

Skiles is absolutely right to say that the Bucks can’t enjoy a victory over the worst road team in the NBA like it was the win that pushed them over .500 for the first time since November 13. There’s still a long road ahead for Milwaukee to even come close to that point, but it has to start somewhere.

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