WASHINGTON - During a second-quarter lull yesterday, Milwaukee Bucks guard Damon Jones jokingly suggested to the Washington Wizards' bench that Kwame Brown had dominated so much inside he needed a breather.
"You better get him out of here," Jones said. "You hear him yelling for a break. You better get [injured guard Jerry] Stackhouse in here for him."
Brown scored 18 of Washington's 22 points in one torrid 10-minute stretch in the first half, but he sat out the next 12 minutes. That was all the Bucks needed to right their ship on the way to a 100-94 victory at MCI Center before an announced crowd of 12,073.
Brown finished with a career-high 23 points, along with 11 rebounds, but his decision to beg out of the game with 7:05 left in the first half couldn't have come at a worse time for Washington, which saw a five-point lead evaporate by the end of the half.
"Players get tired," Brown said. "I asked to come out because I got fatigued and I didn't want to give up anything on the defensive end. I didn't want to take any plays off in a crucial part of the game. Maybe it's the wrong move, but I see a lot of players take a play off on defense, and I didn't want to do that."
In Brown's absence, the Wizards (9-22) were forced to rely on guards Gilbert Arenas and Larry Hughes for offense on a day when neither was shooting particularly well. Milwaukee (17-16) broke a halftime tie with a 15-7 run to start the third, and Washington never got within three in the fourth quarter, losing for the sixth time in seven games.
After hitting his first four shots, Hughes missed 17 straight before sinking a drive with 5:50 left in the fourth, finishing 5-for-23 for 14 points.
"I just didn't have it," Hughes said. "I was putting the ball on the basket and on the rim, and it was coming out. On nights like this, I don't know how to explain it. I don't think I took a lot of bad shots, maybe one or two. For the most part, I had my feet under me and I had good looks and I put the ball on the rim, but it just didn't go down for me.
Arenas, meanwhile, who was removed from the starting lineup by coach Eddie Jordan, shot 6-for-18 from the field for 18 points. Jordan would only say Arenas was kept out for disciplinary reasons. Arenas elaborated that he had been in the team's players lounge shooting pool 90 minutes before the game, when he was supposed to be on the floor.
Like the proverbial light being switched off, the Wizards saw a decent offensive first-quarter flow go out the window in a hail of bad shots - they were just 21-for-56 over the final three quarters.
"Usually that happens when you stop running your offense," Jordan said. "You give our guys some freedom to run some plays, some spacing and just [use] your individual ability. In basketball, that happens. We're just not a good team when we play that way.
"We have to stay organized, and that's what we preach every day. And when we're not organized, we're just not that effective. It's not to say that we're selfish, but we just don't have the skill level to do that specifically."
Next for Wizards
Opponent:San Antonio Spurs
Site:SBC Center, San Antonio
When:Tomorrow, 8:30 p.m.
TV/Radio:Comcast SportsNet/WTEM (980 AM)