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Posted at 2:02 AM ET, 01/20/2011

Wizards waste a good opportunity to end road woes

By Michael Lee

Are we really going to let Keyon Dooling beat us? (AP Photo/Morry Gash)


This may have been their best shot, and they knew it. And they blew it. If the Washington Wizards were going to stop being 0-for-the-road this season, there might not have been a better opportunity than Wednesday night at Bradley Center, where the Milwaukee Bucks have been struggling and depleted with injuries.

But after the Wizards let Earl Boykins and Keyon Dooling dominate them, and the offensively-challenged Bucks score at least 100 points for only the eighth time this season, they are now the sixth team in NBA history to start by losing their first 20 games away from home.

It's been 13 years since an NBA team started a season by losing at least 20 road games in a row. The Denver Nuggets started 0-22 in 1997-98, when no member of the Washington Wizards' current roster was in league.

The Dallas Mavericks' record of 29 consecutive losses to start the season appears to be in sight, with the Wizards looking at a schedule that includes upcoming road games against New York, Oklahoma City, Memphis, Dallas, New Orleans, Cleveland, Orlando, Philadelphia and Miami. Memphis, Cleveland and Philadelphia are the only teams with losing records, but the Wizards have proven that the quality of the opponent doesn't matter. When they are on the road, the opposing team can add a victory to the win column.

And, the thing about this losing streak that makes it dangerous is that teams won't overlook the Wizards when they show up. Usually bad teams can sneak into town and come away with a win, but opponents are aware of the Wizards' struggles and don't want to be the team that loses to them.

"It's not going to be nothing but tougher and tougher for us on the road," Rashard Lewis said.

The Wizards like to talk about they play off the crowd at home, but Bradley Center wasn't exactly what could be described as a hostile environment. The loudest boos of the night were when a guy walked around the arena wearing a Chicago Bears jersey. Former Bucks forward Yi Jianlian heared some light jeers when he scored in the first half, but there really was no need to fear the deer.


How am I missing all of these layups? (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

The Bucks were without starters Brandon Jennings, John Salmons and Carlos Delfino and trailed by 12 points in the second period, but the Wizards were never able to keep them down. Boykins, who had a few stellar outings last season for the Wizards, came off the bench and completely changed the tempo of the game, as he scored 11 of his 19 points in the first half. He quickly attacked Kirk Hinrich and got him in foul trouble, and added four assists, finding Corey Maggette for an alley-oop dunk. He also hit the back-breaking three-pointer late, getting some payback on his former team.

"He's as unique a player in this league as Yao Ming was at 7-5, with the things that he can do. He's been able to do that his whole life," said Coach Flip Saunders, who followed Boykins as he came up in Cleveland and playfully guarded him during pre-game warm-ups.

Too bad none of his players bothered to step in front of him. The Wizards were able to limit Andrew Bogut to just six points after holding him scoreless in the first half. "The plan was to stop Bogut," said JaVale McGee, who was unable to celebrate his 23rd birthday with a win. "We did that, but other people went off, like Boykins and Dooling."

Dooling more than tripled his season average, scoring 23 points after entering the game contributing 6.7 points per game. He hit some tough shots, with John Wall hounding, and he hit some open looks, with the Wizards appearing stunned nearly every time he got a shot to fall.

The Wizards didn't have the usual fourth-quarter breakdown, since they essentially buried themselves in the third period. After leaving the locker room with a two-point lead at halftime, the Wizards let the Bucks score the first eight points of the third period and came unglued in the final 5:06 of the period.

Saunders was disappointed that the Wizards didn't build a larger cushion in the first half, which had them playing uphill for most of the second half. "The way we played in the first half, we should've been up more than two," he said. "We put them to the free throw line too much, we didn't finish some plays. We lost our rhythm and in this game, when you lose your rhythm, it's hard to get it back."

Yi had a rebound tip-in to bring the Wizards within 64-62, but they missed their final eight shots of the third quarter, with Hinrich having his shot blocked by Chris Douglas-Roberts, and Wall getting his shot swatted by Drew Gooden. Saunders kept Wall, Lewis and Andray Blatche on the floor for the entire period, and the Wizards paid the price because all three looked gassed. It was odd substitution strategy since Saunders used every available player in the first half, when the team was able to establish control.

Lewis was just 3 of 11 from the floor and admitted afterward that the nagging tendinitis in his right knee affected the lift on his jumper. Saunders kept him in hoping he would get hot, but he never did. "My knee was bothering me all night. Felt like I couldn't be mobile like I want to," Lewis said.

Wall was fine, but struggled to get shots to fall, as he was able to get to the basket but unable to finish. He also was 3 of 11 from the floor. And, for nearly 13 minutes in the second half, Nick Young was the only Wizard to make a field goal. Unless it's LeBron James scoring 25 straight points against Detroit in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals, then that probably isn't the formula for a win. Young had just 10.

"It's frustrating to be right there," Young said. "We all was looking for that first victory. We thought it would happen."

By Michael Lee  | January 20, 2011; 2:02 AM ET
Categories:  Flip Saunders, John Wall, Nick Young, Rashard Lewis  
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Next: Road frustrations continue to mount

Comments

TLG= Ted Lose Grunfeld.

Posted by: member8 | January 20, 2011 8:20 AM | Report abuse

In the second half the Wiz couldn't throw the ball in the ocean if they were standing in the bottom of it! Nick tried to shoot his way out of it and almost did. Rashard Lewis was terribly off.

Also wasn't a good game or sign of the way things go with Flip. I haven't (and still not ) on the "Fire Flip Parade" but prolonged periods of no offense made Flip look incapable of drawing something up. No time out was called with a subsequent inbound play to get a good look etc...

The entire second half was free lance offense with no answer.

No one guarded Keyon Dooling on the perimeter. I mean force the guy to put it on the floor and work for the buckets at least!

Posted by: gmac78 | January 20, 2011 8:24 AM | Report abuse

John Wall has to start looking for his shot. He should continue to look for his teammates but at some point in the game perhaps the closing moment he should atleast try to put the team on his back. You can tell he isn't in total control of what he is trying or wants to do.

Posted by: AllDCSports | January 20, 2011 9:06 AM | Report abuse

JaVale McGhee is a second tier center, perhaps a good one though.

Grunfeld is a very good GM!

Nick Young is a star!

Keep Blatche!

Need additional point guard!

Like Serafin and Booker.

Posted by: AllDCSports | January 20, 2011 9:12 AM | Report abuse

"Saunders was disappointed that the Wizards didn't build a larger cushion in the first half, which had them playing uphill for most of the second half."

You crazy?? you let the starters sit until Bucks came back in the second quarter.
If you really want to win on the road, at least let the starters play 40 mins for one game.What we need is the first game win!!
I think Wittman is a better coach for young guns.

Posted by: skinsMill | January 20, 2011 10:22 AM | Report abuse

The Wizards need to play better defense. They waited to see if the Bucks were going to miss their shots instead of challenging them. In the last 3 minutes they played excellent defense though. Not enough. They need that effort for 48 minutes.

Saunders needs to give Serphin and Booker more minutes. He also needs to get at least a solid 8 to 9 man rotation. This way they won't looked "gassed" in the fourth quarter. Whoever is on the court in the final 2 minutes should've earned the right to be.

Posted by: carterm1 | January 20, 2011 10:30 AM | Report abuse

"FLIP SAUNDERS is a TERRIBLE coach" FIRE HIM... FIRE GRUNFIELD... That was the worst Wizards lost of the year... The Bucks are terrible but they have a decent and much better coach in Scott Skiles... I think the Wizards are throwing this season for a high draft pick... To bad they will still suck as long as Flip Saunders and Ernie Grunfield is here... They need a young motivating coach. They played terrible defense all game!!! Kenyon Dooling tripled his average... are you freaking kidding me... Boykins bust them for 19 points... are you kidding me.. Hinrh is 6'3 Wall is 6'4 compared to Boykins being only 5'4.... The Wizards SUCK... I am ashamed

Posted by: pusha-d | January 20, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

"FLIP SAUNDERS is a TERRIBLE coach" FIRE HIM... FIRE GRUNFIELD... That was the worst Wizards lost of the year... The Bucks are terrible but they have a decent and much better coach in Scott Skiles... I think the Wizards are throwing this season for a high draft pick... To bad they will still suck as long as Flip Saunders and Ernie Grunfield is here... They need a young motivating coach. They played terrible defense all game!!! Kenyon Dooling tripled his average... are you freaking kidding me... Boykins bust them for 19 points... are you kidding me.. Hinrh is 6'3 Wall is 6'4 compared to Boykins being only 5'4.... The Wizards SUCK... I am ashamed

Posted by: pusha-d | January 20, 2011 11:05 AM | Report abuse

When the WIzards ever stand up and meet the challenge when NBA teams step up their defense in the 2nd half, they might win some games.

The Wiz get shut down offensively for a key stretch every game, home or away. They never seem to alter from solely shooting long jumpers and 3s. When Milwaukee stepped up their defense the Wiz came back with no options. this is the area where I am critical of Flip. a nick young 10 foot fade away has to be better than his 19-23 foot fade away. run a set and get him a look.

Posted by: oknow1 | January 20, 2011 12:42 PM | Report abuse

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