Wizards Cruise In Milwaukee
Saturday, January 5, 2008
MILWAUKEE, Jan. 4 -- Andrew Bogut was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NBA draft by the Milwaukee Bucks, but Washington Wizards center Brendan Haywood unquestionably was the most impressive big man on the court Friday night as the Wizards built a double-digit first-quarter lead and cruised to a 101-77 win at Bradley Center.
Haywood, who finished with nine points, eight rebounds and four blocks, has posted bigger statistical nights this season, but it was his defensive energy, shot-blocking and overall intensity that got the Wizards rolling early against a Bucks team that was playing without leading scorer Michael Redd.
"We started the game strong early, especially in the paint," Wizards Coach Eddie Jordan said. "We started out the first quarter with a lot of deflections, a lot of steals and Brendan was awesome at the rim, whether it was one-on-one or help defense. When you protect your paint and defend your rim, good things happen."
Antawn Jamison led the Wizards with 24 points, Antonio Daniels added 14 points and five assists, and Caron Butler finished with 13 points, 7 rebounds and 7 assists.
The Wizards (16-15) held Milwaukee to a season-low 10 points in the first quarter and shot 55.4 percent. Every player in a Wizards uniform scored.
Haywood set the tone early, scoring on a hook shot for Washington's first points and following that by blocking a Bogut shot on Milwaukee's next possession. The Bucks continued to feed Bogut in the low post or attempt to score on dribble penetration, but Haywood and his teammates were aggressive and Washington's defensive rotations were crisp.
Though Haywood officially was credited with four blocks, he appeared to get a hand on at least a few more. He obviously relished the challenge of facing Bogut, who finished with 10 points and seven rebounds but never had a real impact on the game.
"I know that a lot of his moves are to the middle or that quick spin move, so I really just tried to take the middle away from him and then just attack the shot when he went up," Haywood said of his strategy against Bogut. "When he did, it ended up in some blocks."
It's doubtful that even the smooth-shooting Redd could have made a difference on a night when his teammates shot 38.5 percent, made only one of their first 14 three-point attempts and allowed the Wizards to take one open shot after another.
Redd's replacement, Charlie Bell, missed all six of his shot attempts and only guard Mo Williams made at least half of his shot attempts for the Bucks.
"In the NBA, it's very common to have players out and you'd like to think other guys are going to step up to the occasion and fill in for you," Bucks Coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "The tone was kind of set early. We had a heck of a time scoring. The game maybe sapped us of our energy because it was hard to score."
The Wizards improved to 7-8 on the road and have won four of their last five overall against Milwaukee.
Daniels, who recently missed seven games with a right knee sprain, tweaked the knee at some point in the second half and appeared to be in pain on the bench, but said he was fine after the game.
Wizards Note: In his latest blog entry at NBA.com, injured guard Gilbert Arenas said he recently was cleared to get on the court for some light shooting for the first time since undergoing surgery on his left knee on Nov. 21.
Arenas also said that he is aiming for March 15 as a possible return to game action. Following the surgery, the team established a three-month timetable for his possible return to basketball-related activity.
"They say I'll be at 100 percent around February, mid-February, somewhere around the all-star break," wrote Arenas, who hasn't been cleared for any running or jumping yet. "But I'm going to be in extra wait mode, just to be sure."
Friday's victory improved the Wizards to 13-10 since Arenas last played.