The Milwaukee Bucks posted a relatively easy victory over the Washington Wizards in the opener of this home-and-home set. They’re still hoping for a better effort Friday when the teams meet at the Verizon Center.
Milwaukee (31-29) won for the first time in three games against Washington (21-37) this season, 100-87 on Wednesday, to bounce back after its season-high six-game win streak was snapped with a 106-102 overtime loss at Atlanta on Sunday.
Coach Scott Skiles, though, was concerned with what he considered a lackluster effort.
“We got a win tonight,” Skiles said. “We’re happy, we’ll take it, but we took an overall step back. Our overall intensity wasn’t what it needs to be.”
John Salmons(notes) continued his surge for Milwaukee with 22 points and is averaging 20.8 in starting the last six games. Salmons was acquired from Chicago on Feb. 18 and has replaced struggling Charlie Bell(notes) in the lineup.
The Bucks also received a major contribution from another unheralded player in Ersan Ilyasova(notes), who had 19 points, 10 rebounds and six assists off the bench. Ilyasova is averaging 11.1 points on 55.4 percent shooting over his last 10 games.
“One thing about Ersan is you know every single night he’s going to play hard,” Skiles said. “He was a huge factor for us tonight.”
It’s been a different story for rookie point guard Brandon Jennings(notes), who made 2 of 12 shots for five points and turned the ball over six times. Jennings is averaging 9.9 points and shooting 25.3 percent during the Bucks’ 7-1 stretch.
“Right now, my offense has not been pretty good so far,” he admitted. “I’m struggling pretty bad right now. I don’t even know if I want to shoot the ball.”
Milwaukee has dropped five of its last seven visits to Washington, falling 104-102 on Dec. 2. The Bucks had won six straight on the road before Sunday.
“We need to come out with more energy,” center Andrew Bogut(notes) said. “I think coming out on the road, it’s going to be much tougher to win. It’s going to be a grind it out type game, we need to just come ready to play.”
Bogut has had his share of problems this season against the Wizards, averaging 11.7 points and 6.0 rebounds while shooting 37.8 percent. He played poorly in two losses to Washington in December when the Wizards still had Brendan Haywood(notes), Antawn Jamison(notes) and Caron Butler(notes) in their frontcourt. Bogut had 15 points and five blocks Wednesday.
The Wizards are now led by fifth-year center Andray Blatche(notes), who averaged 26.6 points and 11.7 rebounds while shooting 56.4 percent in six games before he had 18 points and nine boards Wednesday.
“I kind of slacked some,” Blatche said. “I take responsibility for some of the defensive boards and layups they got but, you know, we get them again on Friday.”
Washington was within eight at halftime before scoring 12 points and committing 12 turnovers in the third quarter. The Wizards finished with 22 turnovers.
“We just got beat by turnovers,” coach Flip Saunders said. “We couldn’t stop the turnovers and that hurts.”