Bucks get back on track with rout of WizardsMar 1, 2009 - 4:52 AM MILWAUKEE (Ticker) -- As injuries have mounted and the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff picture has tightened up, the Milwaukee Bucks have seen their grip on the final postseason slot weaken.
But a meeting with the lowly Washington Wizards was just the ticket to remedy the situation - at least temporarily. The Bucks took control quickly and rolled to a 109-93 victory on Saturday night.
"We knew the importance of this game; we want to hang around in the playoff race," Bucks forward Charlie Villanueva said. "They are a team without a lot of wins. We knew if we could step on them early, they were going to be out of the game."
Milwaukee came into the game with a half-game lead on New Jersey (26-32) for the No. 8 spot in the East and had lost four of its last five contests. Long-term injuries to Andrew Bogut and Michael Redd certainly hadn't helped matters.
The likes of Chicago, New York, Indiana, Charlotte and even Toronto are within striking distance of that last spot - basically, everyone else except for the Wizards.
"It's the final stretch," Bucks forward Richard Jefferson said. "We have 20 games to stake our claim as a playoff team. It'd be one of the better stories in the NBA with all the injuries we've had, trades, new faces."
The Bucks got off to a strong start in this one and never looked back as they continued their charge toward the postseason. Charlie Villanueva sparked a 12-3 run with a 3-pointer to help open up a 14-point lead in the first quarter.
"In this building, he gets the three-ball going," Milwaukee head coach Scott Skiles said. "He's so skilled, he's got a lot of tools he's working with out there and he's making them work."
Nick Young's dunk with 8:45 on the clock in the second quarter brought Washington back to within single digits, but the Bucks answered with a 9-0 spurt to double the advantage, capped by Richard Mbah a Moute's three-point play.
"As soon as we got it to 10 or nine, they responded and pushed it back to 15," Washington interim coach Ed Tapscott said.
The Wizards repeatedly pushed back into contention and tried to make things interesting, but they simply didn't have the firepower to keep up. Early in the fourth quarter, Darius Songaila's layup pulled them to within nine, but Luke Ridnour answered on the other end with a 3-pointer and Keith Bogans followed moments later with a three of his own.
"We definitely needed stops and we just couldn't get them tonight," Washington swingman Caron Butler said. "They did a good job of getting into the paint and they were making big shots."
With 9:12 left, Bogans put to rest any notion of a potential Washington comeback with another 3-pointer, extending the lead to 94-76. The Bucks rolled from there, pulling back to within four games of the .500 mark.
"Every game, (with) 20 left, is big," Sessions said. "We can't depend on other teams losing; we have to take care of business."
Villanueva led the way with 25 points for Milwaukee, while Jefferson added 22 despite 6-of-17 shooting. Antawn Jamison carried the Wizards with 21 points and 14 boards, recording his 30th double-double of the season - tied for seventh-most in the league.
"I thought that in the first half, in particular, it was as good of defense as we've played since the Detroit game at Detroit out of the break," Skiles said. "I thought offensively, we played like we have been."
MILWAUKEE 109 FINAL
Feb 28 10:53 PM
MILWAUKEE 83 END, 3RD QTR
Feb 28 10:21 PM
MILWAUKEE 55 HALFTIME
Feb 28 9:41 PM
MILWAUKEE 30 END, 1ST QTR
Feb 28 9:07 PM
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