The Milwaukee Bucks desperately need to get their act together and a matchup with the Washington Wizards tonight at the Verizon Center could get them back on track.
Milwaukee has slipped to 2 1/2 games behind New York for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and has beaten the Wizards twice already this season -- both times in Brew City. The Bucks have won three in a row and 10 of the last 13 meetings with Washington.
The Bucks had a two-game winning streak stopped and lost for the fourth time in seven tries with Saturday's 99-95 setback versus Memphis. Ersan Ilyasova tallied 20 points and a game-best 16 rebounds, and Brandon Jennings netted 24 points for the Bucks, who played without forward Carlos Delfino for a third straight game because of a groin injury.
Drew Gooden had 20 points and Mike Dunleavy added 10 in defeat.
"You're typically not going to come back from 10 down with a minute and a half to go against a Western Conference playoff team," said Bucks head coach Scott Skiles. "We're more concerned with, 'Why were we 10 down at that point?' than anything else."
After visiting the Wizards, Milwaukee, which is 12-16 as the guest this season, will kick off a five-game homestand versus Cleveland, Charlotte, Portland, Oklahoma City and New York.
Washington is coming off Sunday's loss at Toronto and is back in D.C. for two games versus Milwaukee and Indiana.
The Wizards will try to spoil the Bucks' plans on getting closer to a playoff spot, but first must recover from a 99-92 setback against the Raptors. John Wall scored 13 points and dished out 11 assists, while Jordan Crawford led the way with 18 points and Kevin Seraphin provided 16. Crawford is averaging more than 17 points per game in 19 contests since the All-Star break.
"We competed...but we just had a lot of mental lapses and stupid mistakes that cost us the game," Crawford said.
Washington shot 47.9 percent for the field and has not allowed an opponent to score 100 points or more in the last nine games. The last time they held nine straight opposing teams under the century mark was Nov. 30-Dec. 17, 2002. Wall also eclipsed the 2,000-point barrier in his career.
The Wizards are 7-19 in the nation's capital in 2011-12. They could be without forward Trevor Booker (foot) and center Nene (foot) tonight. Nene was acquired from Denver before the trade deadline and did not play in Toronto. Booker also missed Sunday's game north of the border.