Boykins Powers Wizards' 109-97 Win Over Bucks
By all appearances, the Milwaukee Bucks had things going their way.
After trailing all night, they'd battled back to take a two-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, and when Washington star Gilbert Arenas went to the bench with a deep bruise to his left thigh, the Wizards had lost the trigger to their attack.
Enter Earl Boykins, who fueled a 9-0 run as the Wizards pulled away to a 109-97 victory at the Bradley Center.
"I just wanted to calm us down," said Boykins, who finished with 15 points on 5-for-7 shooting. "We had like three or four possessions that were really bad possessions, and I just wanted to make sure that we got into something and got something good at the offensive end."
Boykins scored nine points over the final 5:18 as Washington won for the second time in two nights and the third time in four games to improve to 10-17.
Caron Butler led the Wizards with 25 points and 10 rebounds and Antawn Jamison added 23 and 10.
Arenas finished with 18 points and nine assists as he directed an attack that shot 65.2% (15 for 23) in the first quarter and 59% (23 for 59) in the first half.
Arenas poured in 13 points and dished out seven assists in the first quarter as the Wizards took a 37-27 lead. Even worse for Milwaukee, Arenas drew two fouls each on both Milwaukee point guards Brandon Jennings and Luke Ridnour in the first 11 minutes.
"He was aggressive and he got things going," Washington coach Flip Saunders said.
Jennings picked up his third foul quickly in the second quarter and his fourth early in the third period as he was limited to a season-low 16 minutes of playing time on the night.
"That was good," Arenas said. "We wanted to hold Jennings down. We know he's going to get his shots, but by him picking up those two fouls, and keeping him in foul trouble so he didn't get into a rhythm was big for us."
Michael Redd was the only consistent offensive threat for the Bucks, finishing with a season-high 32 points.
But without Jennings (seven points) or Ridnour, Milwaukee's offense could never get over the hump.
The Bucks (12-15) kept fighting and did take a 82-81 lead on a drive to the basket by Charlie Bell with 9:30 left.
They were ahead, 86-84, when Arenas went hard to the floor while being called for an offensive foul with 7:12 left. Saunders took no chances and removed his star player.
From there, the Wizards took off. Butler, who had approximately 70 family and friends in attendance from his hometown of nearby Racine, Wis., nailed a jumper to tie it with 6:46 left.
Jamison freed Butler for the shot with a pick and was sent to the line when Luc Richard Mbah a Moute fouled him trying to get through the screen. Jamison's free throw gave the Wizards the lead for good, as the 3-point play started the 9-0 run.
Two more free throws by Jamison, a jumper by Butler and a jumper by Boykins gave the Wizards a 93-86 lead. After Arenas went out, the Wizards made seven straight shots and scored on eight straight possessions.
"We executed," Saunders said. "Sometimes what happens is when you have a guy like Gil who can take games over, when he goes out -- and I try to get our guys to understand this -- if we execute we're still going to get great shots. So trust your execution instead of just trusting individual play."
At the other end, the Wizards did not allow a Milwaukee field goal for over four minutes between Bell's jumper that made it 86-84 and a Redd jumper that made it 101-94 with 3:03 left.
"We had some good individual performances," Saunders said. "Gil was great early, Caron had a solid, very good game and Earl was Earl in the fourth quarter. He's still amazing as far as what he can do in the fourth quarter."
Boykins' performance helped the Wizards score a victory in a game where they did not grab an offensive rebound for nearly the first 46 minutes. Brendan Haywood grabbed Washington's only offensive board of the night with 2:13 left.
"I told our guys tonight that we send three guys back on every shot," Saunders said. "We sent our two guards and our small forward. ... I did not want them to get open-floor opportunities with Jennings and be able to get quick baskets and get the crowd into it."
That strategy worked perfectly as Milwaukee had just three fast-break points.
Without Jennings to run the half-court offense, Milwaukee simply lacked the firepower.
"(Jennings) looked out of sorts from the very beginning and looked tentative and then got fouls," Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles said. "It's just another learning experience, hopefully."