A statement game: Bucks 108 – Nuggets 102
A trait you’ll often see in the best point guards is the ability to know when to get others involved and when to take shots themselves. Often, early in the game they like to get their teammates involved, get them in rhythm and comfortable. If the other guys are feeling it, that makes a point guard’s night much easier. As the game goes on the best point guards may take things upon themselves a little bit more though, if things are getting tense and the team needs a big basket or two, the greats have always had the ability to turn the meter to 11 and guide their team to victory. So what’s the best way to explain what Brandon Jennings did against Denver?
First quarter: 0 points 4 assists
Fourth quarter: 14 points 0 assists
He knew when it was time for him to take over.
- Jennings led the Bucks with 32 points, nine assists, four rebounds and one clutch play after the next to keep the Bucks ahead in the fourth. With four minutes to go and the Bucks up one, Jennings hit two threes a minute apart before sinking six free throws in the last 20 seconds to seal the deal for Milwaukee. What was even more impressive was his demeanor at the line. Jennings was laughing and yucking it up … in a two point game! He looked like he was shooting around with his friends! Brandon on the second three he hit in the fourth and the free throws:
I was feeling it from the first one and I knew it was in once it left my hands. Before the game I try and get (to the Bradley Center) early and shoot about a hundred free throws before the game starts. I hit a lot, about 90.
- Jennings wasn’t the only Buck on Wednesday night. Andew Bogut continued his stretch of stellar play, dropping 23 and 10 to go along with four blocks and a steal. Nene had nothing for Bogut, who was getting great looks from Jennings early and showing off his soft touch all game. In the third quarter Bogut got tangled up with Carmelo Anthony (and the most foolish double technical ever was issued, really Bogut fouled Anthony who was very frustrated (more on that later) and then Anthony shoved him, but he’s ‘Melo so it was a double tech) and it looked like the tides might be turning as the game got more physical. But Bogut led the Bucks through a potential rough patch, finishing the quarter with six points and four rebounds. When it got physical Bogut never backed down. His presence as a leader was clear.
- Off the bench, Ersan Ilyasova contributed 17 points and eight rebounds. On his first three pointer, Kenyon Martin didn’t even bother getting a hand up to defend him. It was almost like K-Mart had no idea who this was or that he could shoot. Ersan made them pay the rest of the game, finishing 3-3 from behind the arc and 5-8 overall. The Bucks bench surprisingly outscored the Nuggets backups 35-25 thanks to Ersan and ten points out of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. But LRMAM’s biggest contribution came on the other side of the ball.
- LRMAM hasn’t been great this year. He’d looked a bit out of sorts, he looked like he was worrying about his jumper some, he looked a little bit lost before tonight. But against Carmelo Anthony, one of the best offensive players in the league, LRMAM looked right at home. I kept track of the Bucks work on Anthony all night, and here’s what I came out with:
|Luc Richard Mbah a Moute||7||20||12||12||5|
|Luke Ridnour (On a switch)||1||1||0||0||0|
Not a bad effort out of the guy Bucks fans are hyping as one of the better defender in the league. This is exactly why we fans are so high on LRMAM. Not only was he able to get him off his game, he got in Anthony’s feelings a little bit too (actually, on the technical Brandon Jennings and ‘Melo began talking at half court. When I asked Jennings what was said he replied, “I just told him to calm down. I said hey, that’s my teammate, you can’t be hurting him. ‘Melo’s a cool guy, we got that Oak Hill connection). There were a few times Anthony was obviously frustrated by LRMAM’s defense and the refs lack of bail out calls that resulted in him forcing shots or turning it over. LRMAM wouldn’t take the credit though:
Those guys (Carmelo) only get frustrated for a minute and then their confidence goes back up. You just have to try and slow them down and keep frustrating and keep frustrating them. You have to try and keep them from catching it where they want to, it’s a whole team thing. We did a great job playing team defense and getting stops when we needed.
- Bogut didn’t take any charges in this one, but he blocked four shots with authority and led a Bucks team that out rebounded the Nuggets 46-37. The Bucks strength in the paint was a big reason they were able to control this one from start to finish. In Chicago on Tuesday night, the Nuggets dominated points in the paint 46-34. Against the Bucks they still won that category, but only 44-40. The Bucks gave up nothing easy inside.
- Alas, not all news is good news. The Bucks were the last team in the NBA to allow their opposition to reach 100 points in a game. But when the opposition shoots 39% in doing so, I guess even Scott Skiles will live with that.
Was this a big win? I’d say. Now 4-2, the Bucks hadn’t beaten anyone significant heading into Wednesday night’s win. Now? They have a bit of a feather for their cap. Skiles talked about dominating at home before last Saturday’s game against New York and to do that, it’s important to blow out the bad teams and beat the good teams. This is a step in the right direction. When asked if this was a statement game Jennings started saying yes, but stopped in his tracks to re-phrase what this win means:
Well, actually tonight was just a big game for us. It’s a team that went to the Western Conference finals last year and we wanted to come in here and prove that we’re able to compete with those types of teams. Bogut played a hell of a game tonight. Hey, if he keeps doing that we’ll keep winning a lot of game.
And if you keep putting up 32 and 9, the games may start to mean more and more.