Nene and Trevor Booker were not wearing walking boots as they sat on the bench on Monday for the Wizards’ 112-98 loss to Milwaukee on Monday, and their teammates didn’t want to use the absence of two starters as a crutch.
“It hurt us,” Jordan Crawford said. “We had some big pieces out, but we always think that we can be a game.”
The Wizards had a lethargic start against the Bucks, and trailed by 19 points in the first 19 minutes of the game. But they battled back to trail by eight at halftime and scored the first six points of the third quarter, when John Wall made two free throws to bring the Wizards within 55-53 with 10:43 left in the period.
Milwaukee scored the next 10 points over the next 93 seconds, as the Wizards had more turnovers (three) than field goal attempts (one), and The Bucks took a 65-53 lead on a Monta Ellis jumper. Brandon Jennings scored 17 points in the period, looking as if he were in a summer league exhibition game, and helped the Bucks build a 16-point lead.
“We didn’t have a lot of energy,” Wall said. “They just played harder than us.”
The Wizards (12-41) made another run to get within 85-78 with 9:41 left, but another breakdown followed as Shaun Livingston, who resurrected his career with the Wizards, and Mike Dunleavy Jr. combined to outscore the Wizards 15-12 as the Bucks extended the lead to 23.
“They’re a powerful scoring team,” Crawford said. “They got a lot of players that can score, hurt you from different angles, and you know, we gave up a lot of pick and roll buckets. We got to improve on that.”
Coach Randy Wittman said his players appeared to be shaken as the Bucks responded to each run with a more severe counter punch. “I don’t think it was anything with our effort. Our guys were there. We started out a little flat. I think a little, we were down on ourselves a little bit, I felt, in the huddle.”
Crawford agreed with the assessment the players’ spirit was broken some, “I mean, when you losing, you want to win, sometimes you do that.”
Wittman doesn’t know when Nene or Booker will be back but is hopeful that the two will be available when they play three in a row against Indiana, Detroit and New Jersey, beginning on Wednesday at Verizon Center.
“It’s tough, but everybody’s got to be ready,” Wall said. “It’s time for people to step up. Guys have been stepping up big. It just seems tonight, we didn’t step up and have energy. I guess because of the games, but you can’t say that because everybody been playing back-to-back games. We just got outplayed. That’s it.”