Wizards stretch distance to 1½ games over 76ers in East with win

WASHINGTON (AP) -- An NBA player can only go so far being the flashiest rookie in practice. Sooner or later, it's got to happen in a game.

Nick Young had just that kind of night Tuesday, scoring a career-high 22 points to lead the Washington Wizards to a sorely needed 105-97 win over the Milwaukee Bucks.

"I'm tired of [teammate] Brendan Haywood calling me a practice dunker and all kinds of stuff," said Young, who shot 9-for-15 and had pair of three-point plays in the decisive fourth quarter. "So it was my way to kind of show them that I belong here -- and I can jump a little bit."

Antawn Jamison had 23 points, eight rebounds and eight turnovers and left in the final minute with a lower back strain, the latest ailment to hit the injury-riddled Wizards. He can hardly afford to take a game off, however, given that Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler are still out.

Haywood added 15 points and five blocks for the Wizards, who sliced and diced through the Bucks' defense to shoot 50 percent with 66 points in the paint. It was a morale-restoring effort following Saturday's dispiriting home loss to Charlotte.

"It was a much-needed win," coach Eddie Jordan said. "We needed to make home feel like home again."

Michael Redd scored 26 points, Andrew Bogut had 23, and Charlie Villanueva had 24 points and matched a season high with 16 rebounds for the Bucks, who lost for the sixth time in seven games with another lackluster defensive performance. Milwaukee's opponents are averaging 111 points and shooting better than 50 percent in the last seven games.

"They got a lot of dunks tonight. That was inexcusable," Redd said. "We've got to sharpen it up."

Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak wasn't happy that his team didn't do much to stop Young, who had two dunks in the first half and had a key three-point play in the 12-2 run that put the Wizards in control after Milwaukee had tied it at 83 with 9 minutes remaining. Young drew contact on a baseline drive between Bogut and Dan Gadzuric, but still found space to put up a shot that tantalizingly dropped off the rim and into the net.

"I don't care if it's eighth grade or what league you're in, if you want to get a guy going and feeling good about himself, you let him dunk his first couple baskets -- and then we couldn't stop the bleeding from that point," Krystkowiak said. "It's real important that we didn't let that happen. I would rather that he had to take that jumper or scrape himself up off the hardwood rather than going in and dunking it -- just reminding him that somebody's in there."

Young even picked up his first technical foul for going at Bogut after a dunk. Young didn't get his money's worth -- the big center knocked the rookie guard aside like a rag doll.

"He got the best of me," Young said. "They say they're going to put me in the weight room."

The first-round draft pick from Southern California surpassed his previous best of 19 points with another three-point play that put the Wizards ahead 103-91 with 1:35 remaining.

"He's a natural scorer," point guard Antonio Daniels said. "We kid him about it all the time. He has blinders because all he sees is the rim."

The Wizards are 1-1 to start a five-game homestand as they attempt to tread water in sixth place in the Eastern Conference until injured stars Arenas (knee) and Butler (hip) return. Arenas was cleared for full practice last week and Butler was back at practice Monday.

The Wizards had 10 dunks in the first half and led 57-44 at the break. The Bucks shot 71 percent in the third quarter and tied the game, but Redd was the only player who kept his hot hand in the fourth. He scored 13 of Milwaukee's 20 points in the final period.

Game notes
Milwaukee's Desmond Mason left in the third quarter with a bruised right knee but returned to the game in the fourth. ... Jordan didn't rule out the possibility that Butler could play Thursday against Cleveland. ... Wizards rookie Oleksiy Pecherov missed the game with a sprained left foot. ... Bucks G Mo Williams missed his fourth straight game with an abdominal strain. F Yi Jianlian also missed his fourth in a row with a sprained ankle.