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Wizards fall to Bucks, 97-91

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Eventually these career games by Nick Young are going to start counting for something.

Three nights after he lit up the Chicago Bulls in the fourth quarter only to see his team fall short, the second-year shooting guard was back at it.

Young finished with a career-high 30 points, but the guard again couldn't celebrate because his Washington Wizards still ended up losing 97-91 to the Milwaukee Bucks and fell to 7-30 on the season.

Young, who went 12-for-19 against Milwaukee (19-21), helped the Wizards wipe out a first-quarter deficit and kept them rolling until late in the third quarter. Then came the all-too-familiar collapse, and Washington blew its 12th fourth-quarter lead of the season and dropped its fifth straight game.

"My teammates were giving me the ball and cheering me on. I had confidence out there, felt like the rims were bigger. I just wanted to get a win tonight," Young said shaking his head. "I don't even know. It's been this way the whole season. I don't know if we're thinking too much or what. We're worrying too much when it comes to the fourth quarter."

Young, who had set his career high with 28 against the Bulls, did his part in the fourth, scoring 10 points. And he won his duel with Milwaukee guard Michael Redd, with whom he exchanged big shots for a stretch in the final quarter. But Redd, who scored eight of his 29 points in the fourth, got help from center Andrew Bogut, who had eight points and three rebounds in the quarter, a key tip-in from forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and three dagger free throws from point guard Luke Ridnour.

Young's teammates made just two of nine field goals in the fourth quarter, and Washington again was left wanting.

"They had a good rhythm," said Wizards swingman Caron Butler, who had an off night with just six points on 2-for-13 shooting. "Obviously, the game of 21 that Nick Young and Michael Redd had going on was unbelievable. But we just couldn't get a couple of loose balls. We tried to box out and load up a little bit more on [Redd] and Bogut to take away their main options but still fell short."

It was the second meeting of the season between the Bucks and Wizards. In their Nov. 5 matchup, the Wizards held an 87-74 lead with eight minutes to play before allowing Milwaukee to come charging back and overtake them in overtime for a 112-104 victory. And while this game didn't go into overtime, it ended in the same disheartening fashion for Washington.

The Wizards stumbled out of the gate, shooting just 30 percent from the field in the first while falling behind 25-19 after the first quarter.

But then when the second quarter began, coach Ed Tapscott went with his youngest players: Javaris Crittenton, Young, Dominic McGuire, Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee.

Young, who scored four points late in the first quarter, kept rolling, scoring eight more on 4-for-4 shooting to spark a 20-6 run that gave Washington a 35-31 lead with 5:09 left in the half.

After the Wizards took a 52-41 halftime lead thanks to three more from Young, the guard scored five more in the third to extend the lead to 70-58. But Milwaukee scored the next 11 points before Crittenton hit a jumper with 7.9 seconds left on the clock to end the drought.

The Wizards led 74-69 when the fourth began but went on to miss seven of their first nine attempts from the field while falling behind 84-79 in the first six minutes of the quarter.

Young broke the scoring drought with a fadeaway jumper with 4:21 left to cut the lead to 84-81.

He scored his team's next five points, but Redd answered with four of his own, and Mbah a Moute got a putback under the hoop to fall and kept the Bucks ahead 90-86 with 2:30 minutes remaining.

Young hit one of two foul shots to cut the lead to three, and the Bucks turned the ball over on the opposite end. Young came back again, shaking Mbah a Moute for yet another successful jump shot that cut the lead to 90-89, but Redd answered with a 3-pointer, and a foul shot by Charlie Villanueva extended the lead to five.

Mike James made two free throws for Washington with 20.4 seconds left, but the Wizards were forced to foul, and Ridnour delivered, sealing the win.

Note - Backup center Etan Thomas left the game in the first quarter with a left knee strain and did not return.