Published March 05, 2010
WASHINGTON (AP) — Before the game, Washington Wizards coach Flip Saunders called Milwaukee's Andrew Bogut "maybe the best center in the Eastern Conference." During the game, Bogut showed why he earns such praise.
Bogut led the way with 19 points and 10 rebounds despite sitting out the fourth quarter, and the Bucks beat the Wizards 102-74 on Friday night for their eighth victory in their last nine games.
Carlos Delfino also scored 19 points for Milwaukee, and John Salmons added 17.
Bogut also had four assists and anchored the Bucks' strong defense, which limited the Wizards to 38 percent shooting and a season-low 10 assists. Andray Blatche and JaVale McGee led Washington with 13 points apiece.
Surging since the All-Star break thanks primarily to strong play from Bogut and the newly acquired Salmons, Milwaukee began the night in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. The top eight teams make the playoffs.
The Wizards, meanwhile, are a completely revamped team, one without any of the players who rank 1-4 in scoring average this season: Gilbert Arenas (season-ending suspension for bringing guns into the locker room); Antawn Jamison (traded to Cleveland); Caron Butler (traded to Dallas); Josh Howard (season-ending knee injury). Starting center Brendan Haywood also was dealt to Dallas.
Milwaukee led 51-36 at halftime, thanks in large part to Bogut's 14 points and eight rebounds. The Wizards, somehow, finished the first half with a grand total of only three assists.
When the Bucks went on a 12-2 run early in the second half to make it 63-42, the outcome was pretty much settled and the boos from the home crowd began.
NOTES: The teams played Wednesday in Milwaukee, and the Bucks won that one, too. ... Bucks coach Scott Skiles turned 46 on Friday, but was blase about the occasion. "I'm not a big birthday-celebrating guy," he said. ... Skiles spoke to Brandon Jennings about the slumping rookie guard's recent lament that he doesn't "even know if I want to shoot the ball." Said Skiles: "We're not fond of that kind of statement. He's too important to our team and our franchise to have any sort of defeatest-type mindset right now. And he doesn't, really." Entering Friday, Jennings was averaging 9.9 points and shooting 25.3 percent over Milwaukee's previous eight games. ... Before the game, Saunders said of McGee, who has moved into the starting lineup: "He makes glaring mistakes when he makes mistakes — not getting back on defense and things like that." ... Saunders said the Wizards hadn't decided whether to keep Mike Harris, who signed a 10-day contract last week.