Young, Wizards Feeling Flush
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Nick Young doesn't always seem to know exactly where he is going when he has the basketball in his hands, but the talented Washington Wizards rookie usually gets there quickly and, at times, in spectacular fashion.
That was the case on several occasions last night as Young scored a career-high 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting to spark the Wizards to a 105-97 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks at Verizon Center.
One of Young's most crucial and crowd-pleasing plays came with just more than eight minutes remaining when he drove baseline, reversed in the air and drew a foul on 6-foot-11 Milwaukee center Dan Gadzuric while making a layup.
Young capped the play with a free throw, and the sequence keyed a 12-2 run that blew open the game.
Later, the first-round pick out of Southern California effectively put away the game with another three-point play that gave the Wizards an 11-point lead with 1 minute 35 seconds to go.
"It's just being more aggressive," said Young, who has scored in double figures in four straight games and has had several impressive dunks. "I'm tired of Brendan Haywood calling me a practice dunker and all that kind of stuff. It's my way of showing them that I belong here. I can jump a little bit."
The win gave the Wizards (31-32) a 1 1/2 -game lead over seventh-place Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference and moved the Bucks (23-41) one step closer to elimination from the playoff race.
Michael Redd led Milwaukee with 26 points, but the short-handed Bucks, who played without guard Mo Williams and rookie forward Yi Jianlian, managed only 10 bench points and finished with 19 turnovers.
For the Wizards, Antawn Jamison added 23 points and eight rebounds, Andray Blatche contributed 15 points and seven rebounds, and six players scored in double figures.
The Wizards played some of their best basketball of the season while outscoring the Bucks 31-22 in the second period. The spark was provided by Young, who got the crowd involved when he drove and dunked on 7-footer Andrew Bogut.
Young was assessed a technical foul after colliding with Bogut following the play, but he wasn't done attacking the basket.
With 3:22 left in the half, Young gave the Wizards an 11-point lead when he followed a Jamison three-pointer with a soaring one-handed dunk to cap a fast break.
"I think he's starting to get that NBA pace," said Wizards guard DeShawn Stevenson, who finished with six assists. "He's starting to dunk on guys. For a while the ball was slipping out of his hands but I think he's starting to get it. He's a natural scorer and once he gets that pace, he's going to be a heck of a player."
The Wizards closed the half with a string of impressive plays, including a Young three-pointer, a dunk by Haywood off of an alley-oop pass by Antonio Daniels and a Haywood drive and dunk that was the result of an offensive rebound by rookie forward Dominic McGuire. Young scored 11 of his 22 points in the second period.
Milwaukee opened the third quarter on a 19-6 run and took its first lead on a drive and layup by Redd at the 5:39 mark, but Young's three-pointer with 2:22 left capped a 9-4 run that put the Wizards back in control.
Young closed the scoring in the third with a drive and layup and the Wizards carried a 79-77 edge into the fourth. Young's play was symbolic of the aggressiveness shown by the Wizards as they finished with a season-high 66 points in the paint and shot 50 percent.
"That was the game plan: attack in the paint and don't settle for jump shots," Coach Eddie Jordan said. "When we got into trouble was when we didn't drive, they were in the penalty and we didn't get to the basket. We were aggressive."
Wizards Notes: Gilbert Arenas did not practice Monday or participate in the morning shoot-around for last night's game because his knee was sore. . . . Jamison received treatment after the game on his strained lower back. . . . Daniels had a sore left thumb after catching it on an opponent's jersey.