- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Washington Wizards dropped to 16-47 on the season as they lost to the Milwaukee Bucks by a score of 95-76 Tuesday night at the Verizon Center. The 76 points scored by the Wizards tied their season-low point total; the Wizards also scored 76 points against the Orlando Magic on February 16.

Bucks guard Brandon Jennings led all scorers with 23 points, while guard John Salmons added 22 points.   

Leading the way for the Wizards was rookie Jordan Crawford with 22 points. Also scoring in double figures was Nick Young with 10 points, Maurice Evans with 11 points, and John Wall with 10. Wall had an especially tough night, going just 4 for 17 from the floor. Further hampering the team’s performance was the lack of bodies at the small forward position.

The Wizards were without Rashard Lewis and Josh Howard, and swingman Cartier Martin. Lewis continues to be bothered by soreness in his right knee, and Howard has a sore left hamstring. Martin was sidelined by tendinitis in his right knee.  

And adding to the front court deficiency was the loss of Andray Blatche, who left the game early in the first quarter with a right shoulder strain and did not return.  

“We came out hard, then our starting four went out and I felt like our intensity just went down. We were still rebounding, but they were just making shots and we weren’t making shots. We were missing layups, tip backs, easy stuff. It just wasn’t a shooting night,” said Wizards forward JaVale McGee.  

Despite the loss of front court players, the Wizards still managed to outrebound the Bucks 52-42.

“I think it’s tough. We had a lot of people out. It gave other people a good opportunity to step up. Turning the ball over and not making shots is tough. I think nobody, including myself played good at all. We just let them beat us on the fast breaks they basically got whatever shot they wanted whenever they wanted,” Wall said.

The Wizards shot 37.6 percent on the night to the Bucks 43.9 percent, and gave away 24 turnovers to the Bucks 14.

For a four minute stretch during the second quarter, the Wizards actually had five rookies on the floor at once – Wall, Crawford, Hamady N’Diaye, Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin - something head coach Flip Saunders joked before the game that he might actually do. With all the injuries, Saunders at least got a chance to get a better look at his young players.

“That’s part of the growing up process in being a young player, taking that next step and being able to dig your feet in and go after somebody,” Saunders said.

As for Wall, Saunders said he could tell the rookie became frustrated early when he started missing shots.  

“He rebounded well for us [nine boards] and did some of those other things but overall, I don’t think it was one of his better performances. But he usually bounces back pretty well, so we’ll see,” Saunders said. Prior to the game, Saunders noted that he did not believe that Wall was running into the rookie “wall” as so often happens near season’s end, at least from a physical standpoint, but that mentally, it was a possibility.  

“I told him when he first started hurting at the beginning of the year that we were going through the process of him trying to come back and he talked about wanting to feel one hundred percent. I told him ‘you’re never going to be one hundred percent.’”

The team now has three days until they have to face Blake Griffin and the L.A. Clippers (24-40) on Saturday.

“I told our guys even though we’re young, we’ve got three days of training camp. Whoever is going to start on Saturday, we’ll determine over these next three days,” Saunders said.

“If you can go beat somebody out, if the team can play better when you’re on the floor, we’re going to give people opportunities, whoever they are.”

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