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Game Notebook 2, Wizards at Bucks: The Night The Bradley Center Became BRADLEY’S Center

Wizards 118
Bucks 113

October 30, 2015 – BMO Harris Bradley Center, Milwaukee, WI

ESPN Box Score

“You can’t stop me. Plain and simple.”

These aren’t the kind of bold words you commonly hear from Bradley Beal. But then again, these don’t really seem like common times for Bradley Beal. This type of reaction, as blunt as it was, is downright definitive of the newfound confidence in a gravely aspiring All-Star who was once much shier than he is today. And it runs much deeper than just easy words spoken to a sideline reporter after a monster 4th quarter of a come-from-behind win.

For the 12 basketball minutes prior to this interview, the Bradley Center in Milwaukee had become BRADLEY’S Center. The pleasant uprise of Beal was on full display on Friday night, and it lit up the floor with every 3-point make. It buzzed the Milwaukee Bucks and their crowd with every cold glare at the bench. It forced the purchase of a pack of Ricola throat drops for Steve Buckhantz. This poise; this hard conviction where Beal truly feels that he is the best player on the floor every time he’s on it is simply a testament to everything he’s vowed to accomplish this season. And the Bucks, a so-called Eastern Conference contender, got a first-hand look.

But Beal, who dropped 14 in the 4th, wouldn’t do this alone. As John Wall remained the controller, Beal was assisted by Ramon Sessions, who poured in an additional 11 points in the final quarter, combining for 25 of the Wizards’ 36 points. Following a timeout at the 8:55 mark, a 10-point Bucks lead was converted into a 1-point Bucks deficit faster than you could say Antetokounmpo. That’s about two basketball minutes. That 11-0 Wizards run was capped off by a pair of consecutive corner 3’s, shared by Beal and Sessions and facilitated by John Wall. The magnificence of these three carried the Wizards all the way to the final buzzer, leading them to a five-point win in a 15 point turnaround.

Though the haters will write these two opening wins off as unnecessary struggles for a team who classifies itself as a Finals contender, I’d like to call it two resilient road wins led by the finest young duo this side of the Mississippi. Mindless of the opponents and mindless of the early struggles in each game, these two wins are tone-setters for the Wizards season, and they should do little else for us fans but grant us the delight for things even more special to come from these two.

#WizBucks in a tweet..

The Game’s Top Performer:

Bradley Beal – This man lit Wisconsin on fire with 14 points in the 4th quarter

The growth. It unfolded right in front of our eyes. I mentioned earlier there is a twist in behavior and approach when you watch Bradley Beal this season. A true feeling of being the best on the floor. You can’t hate that, and you can’t hate it when he’s proving why he feels that way. The Wizards struggled early and looked helpless defending The Greek Freak. Then that abysmally turnover-infested 3rd quarter which dipped the Wizards into a double-digit deficit. And all of this away from home, an environment where the Wizards have historically and perpetually failed. But Beal wouldn’t let it. While Giannis crumbled into foul trouble, and the Bucks crumbled with Greivis Vasquez at the helm, Beal capitalized. He scored eight straight points during one stretch of the 4th to pull the Wizards up by two, then scored six more via 3-pointers a few minutes later, the second of the two lifting the Wizards to a seven-point lead.

Honorable mention: Ramon Sessions: 23 points (11 in the 4th), 8-12 FG, 2 steals.

A forgettable night for..

Second half Giannis Antetokounmpo

The Freak had 23 points by halftime, making a complete wreckage out of the Wizards’ defense. He dominated any matchup thrown against him and was a literal deer in transition. But all would flounder after halftime, where Giannis managed just four points, missing three of four shots, four personal fouls, and two turnovers. The 4th quarter in particular is where Giannis probably wants to evade the memories of, especially any that includes Jared Dudley. Two offensive fouls drawn by Dudley within one minute defused any further threats from Antetokounmpo.

Honorable mention: Garrett Temple: dude was subbed in for literally seven seconds for ‘defensive purposes’ in the winding seconds of the game, and promptly fouls Khris Middleton – a certified Wizards killer – on a 3-point shot, which he made, and converted the subsequent free throw. That turned a seven-point lead into a one possession game.

The Breakdown:

1st quarter

  • One of the most frightening aspects of this modern era of basketball is how nimble ‘bigs’ have become. Giannis Antetokounmpo is nicknamed the The Greek Freak mainly for his ability to truck up and down the court and ferociously finish despite his protracted, 6’11 length. The Wizards threw different matchups at Giannis, some of them unintended off switches, but he capitalized on all of them. Antetokounmpo was suspended for the Bucks’ season opener, and had vowed to come out gunning against the Wiz. He did. He was unstoppable on the break. He drew several and-1s, and his putback dunks were demoralizing. He had 11 to start this game. A true freak.
  • Contrarily, John Wall’s start wasn’t so fine. The Bucks’ length seems a bit intimidating and it might have, if anything, disrupted Wall’s mentality just a bit early on. He was a bit indecisive on his jump passes, possibly because of all the arms that drew in front of him when he attempted one. His matchup against Giannis on a switch was a fail. A pick and roll with Gortat blew up into a turnover. But of course with Wall, there are trickles of superstardom even amid struggle. A sweet cross-court pass to Neal proved he’d be alright. I loved Wittman subbing Wall in to execute the final play of the quarter with just 3 seconds left. Wall took the inbounds pass and skated down court all the way to the rim but missed the open layup. Also, a little bit of new swag in Wall with his mouthguard chewing? Very Curry-ish.
  • Kris Humphries was a non-factor. Besides a nice offensive rebound and drawing a foul on the putback, he went 0-3 from the field, including a 3-point shot that bounced so hard off the glass without hitting rim that it nearly decapitated Gortat. Again, the Bucks’ length seemed to be the primary reason why Hump was so out of it. Hump’s improved range is cool and all, but his lagging movement when the shot isn’t there gave him very little options offensively otherwise.

2nd quarter

  • Okay so this 3-guard lineup of Bradley Beal, Gary Neal, and Ramon Sessions is a pretty productive one. All three are ball-handlers who can shoot, two attributes the Wizards were gravely lacking of. You saw on one play Gary Neal dribbling his way inside the 3-point arc and then slinging it to Bradley Beal who was trailing behind him for a 3. You saw Ramon Sessions with his artsy fartsy shooting form in transition, getting the ball to somehow fall in the basket and draw contact. You saw Bradley Beal going hard in the paint. The three combined to shoot 8-for-10 from the field and scored 23 of the Wizards’ 39 points in the 2nd quarter.
  • JARED DUDLEY SIGHTING!! And promptly slotted in at the 4 in place of Drew Gooden. Dudley was effective from the jump, catching a cross-court pass from Wall and taking it to the rim for a foul. Another cross-court pass from Wall got Dudley a 3-pointer. Later, he hit the deck for a loose ball. Wittman praised him for doing all the scrappy, non-box score stuff.
  • Greivis Vasquez sucks.

John Wall doesn’t:

3rd quarter

  • The 3rd quarter was just a mess of turnovers. Again some Wall confusion with Gortat after a pass gets tipped and stolen. Later, Otto loses his handles which led to a Milwaukee bucket. Seven turnovers in the first 5 minutes of the 3rd quarter yet the Wizards still trailed by just 5 points. What really burned the Wizards was the plethora of missed shots in a 3-minute drought where the Bucks went on a 9-0 run.
  • But again, when there’s a Wall, there’s a way. Wall drew a foul on a 3-point shot and knocked down all three free throws. Later, this floater and mug at the crowd:

  • The Wizards trailed by 10 at the end of the 3rd thanks to the annoyance of Jarred Bayliss’ 7 points, and more turnovers by the Wizards including one in the final where more miscommunication was evident. A pass by Sessions sailed out of bounds because he was expecting one of Dudley or Porter to shift into the corner. Neither did.

4th quarter

  • Wittman again went with the 3-guard lineup of Neal, Beal, and Sessions, but it wasn’t as effective as it was earlier in the game. Sessions drew a foul on a wacky looking floater again and Neal’s shot kept hitting the front of the rim until he was put back on the bench. Eventually we saw Sessions, Wall and Beal on the floor and, well, that was obviously a joy.

You’ll see plenty of those three in just a moment but first, #NeneJams at the expense of Giannis and Plumlee’s dignity:

You already know how this all played out. The Ramon and Beal Show commences:



The End Result:

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