Contributing editor Gordon Jones
suffered through watched last night’s tilt between the Washington Wizards and the Milwaukee Bucks, one of the nine NBA games on the first night of action after the All-Star Break.
I’m actually pretty excited to watch this game, because I want to see if JaVale McGee will do something incredibly stupid. Right off the bat he has a minor gaffe when instead of grabbing a rebound, he tips it to Drew Gooden, who immediately scores. A minor mistake, but it’s typical of the Wizards’ season: they don’t make the little plays that can make big differences in NBA games.
My new favorite player, Milwaukee’s Ersan Ilyasova, gets off to a quick start with an early three and finishes an impressive first quarter with 9 points, 7 boards, and an assist. Too bad he hardly plays in the second quarter, recording only records two missed shots. Maybe I should have chosen more wisely.
Also in the second quarter, Shelvin Mack, formerly of Butler, checks in for the Wizards and plays 4 minutes of quality basketball, making his only shot and recording 1 rebound and 1 assist. Mike Dunleavy enters the game for the Bucks in the first quarter, gets hot, and finishes the half with 16 points and 4 made three-pointers. (Probably the type of shooting streak Golden State had in mind when they took him with the third pick in the 2002 draft.)
Right before the half, JaVale McGee strikes again. With one second left in the half, McGee bites on Drew Gooden’s pump fake and fouls him behind the three-point line. Seriously, this guy cannot get out of his own way. McGee reminds me of a puppy, really enthusiastic and fun, but very clumsy. There is no question that McGee plays hard and has great athletic ability, but he also makes a ton of bonehead plays.
In the third quarter, the Wizards launch a furious comeback and take the lead; the Bucks were up by as many as 22 in the second quarter and led by 14 at halftime. As inept as the Bucks made the Wizards look in the first half, the Wizards are now returning the favor.
Early in the 4th quarter, the Wizards have made all 19 of their free-throw attempts. I wonder what the record for consecutive team free-throws is?
Roger Mason Jr. is shooting like he did for the Spurs in 08-09 (42% from three). Dunleavy has 26, and Mo Evans made his first 6 shots. And the Wizards have made all 21 of their foul shots. This game must be happening in some alternate universe where time stopped in 2008.
The Bucks are up by 1 with under a minute to go. After a sloppy possession from the Bucks, a defensive stop at the other end, and a Bucks turnover, John Wall hits a runner with 6.8 seconds to go to put the Wizards up by 1. On the other end, Ilyasova tips in a miss by point guard Brandon Jennings to take back the lead with 2.2 seconds left. This turns out to be the game winner, as the Wizards, with one opportunity left, get the ball to Mason, who is called for a travel.
Looks like I made a good choice after all. Ilyasova!
The Wizards actually outplayed the Bucks for most of the second half, but they just could not make key plays down the stretch. Noticeably, and not coincidentally, JaVale McGee was on the bench for the entire second half. I guess Flip Saunders – make that Randy Wittman – had to get him out of the way.
I was disappointed that Bucks Jon Brockman, a.k.a Brockness, a.k.a. the Trick Shot Monster, and CAA product Larry Sanders did not play. Jan Vesely, Washington’s first pick in the 2011 draft, only played 7 minutes. I don’t know why these guys are not getting more minutes. It is unlikely that either the Bucks or the Wizards will make the playoffs this year, so what’s the harm in giving more minutes to young players who could potentially turn your franchise around?
Thanks for taking one for the team.