Clinging to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks had a tough week against some of the league’s best teams. A game against the Washington Wizards should help them get back on track.
The Bucks look to avoid losing three straight for the first time since December on Saturday night when they try for their fourth consecutive win over the Wizards.
Starting on Feb. 20, Milwaukee (28-33) began a stretch of games against East-leading Cleveland, Northwest Division-leading Denver, Dallas and New Orleans. With the chance to see how they measure up against some of the league’s elite, the Bucks’ only win was Sunday’s 120-117 victory over the Nuggets.
Milwaukee fell at Dallas 116-96 on Wednesday, but Friday’s 95-94 setback at New Orleans was especially disappointing.
The Bucks trailed 89-72 with four minutes remaining before taking a 94-93 lead with 10.5 seconds left on Charlie Bell’s 3-pointer - the team’s sixth consecutive basket from beyond the arc. Milwaukee couldn’t complete the comeback, though, as Tyson Chandler tipped in a missed shot with 3.3 seconds left for the final margin.
The Hornets finished with 52 rebounds to the Bucks’ 41. Milwaukee has been outrebounded by an average of 18.0 boards in its last three games.
“The thing that has been bothering us the last two or three weeks is our rebounding,” Bucks coach Scott Skiles said. “The last play of the game, we just looked at it, they kind of shoved us right under the basket and were able to tip the ball in.”
Milwaukee, which is just a half-game ahead of ninth-place New Jersey in the East, has not lost three straight since Dec. 7-10. But the Bucks have won three in a row from the Wizards, including the first two meetings this season.
Richard Jefferson, who is averaging 18.0 points in his last four contests after averaging 29.5 in his previous four, had one of his best games of the season—one of his worst—against Washington.
He scored 32 points on 13-of-23 shooting and had nine assists in Milwaukee’s 112-104 overtime win on Nov. 5, but only eight points on 3-of-9 shooting and no assists in a 97-91 win at Washington on Jan. 12.
Washington owns the East’s worst record, but routed Chicago 113-90 on Friday with President Barack Obama in attendance.
The Wizards, who averaged just 82.5 points on 40.4 percent shooting in losing their previous two games, shot 50.6 percent from the floor and outrebounded Chicago 53-37.
Obama, a former Chicago resident and die-hard Bulls fan, witnessed one of the Wizards’ biggest wins of the season as eight Washington players scored in double figures for the first time since Feb. 5, 1993.
“We all know that he’s from Chicago. That’s the only reason why he’s here tonight. I have no problem with that,” said Antawn Jamison, who led Washington with 27 points and 11 rebounds. “You can’t convert him overnight. Eventually - he’s here for four or eight years - we can be his second-favorite team.”
The Wizards have struggled away from the Verizon Center and play five of their next six games on the road. They are 4-23 away from the nation’s capital but defeated New Jersey 107-96 in their last road game on Feb. 20.