The Bucks got Dirk’d, that much is clear. You simply cannot allow the Dallas Mavericks to have the last shot. Dirk Nowitzki is too big and too good of a shooter to stop when the game is on the line. If he misses, it’s a fluke. His fade-away is indefensible.
So on one hand it’s a huge disappointment that the Bucks let this one slip away. Score one for being upset.
But on the other hand, they had no business being in the game anyway. Milwaukee was down 18 with eight minutes and 11 seconds to go in the third quarter. Plenty of time was left, but there were few signs of life from a group that followed their worst defensive game of the year with an equally putrid start.
So in some ways it was a minor victory to even have been in the game at the end. But that’s not the way successful teams look at these types of games. Successful teams say, “we never should have been in the position to lose this game and then when it was close we should have closed it out.” And that’s what the Bucks want to be, a successful team.
So this is no moral victory and little can be taken out of this from a team standpoint aside from the lessons learned in defeat. Lessons that could prove valuable going forward. Lessons like how quick is too quick to foul when the other team inbounds with 3.8 seconds left? Or for Brandon Jennings, can someone get a better shot than me on the last possession (his answer: “Ersan’s (Ilyasova) man had doubled me, he was wide open, it’s something I’ll learn from”)?
Ah, the lessons learned in defeat.
- Jennings was once again a one man show in the fourth quarter. 13 of his 25 points, including two three-pointers. Not so coincidentally, Jennings had more room to operate with Rodrigue Beaubois out of the game for the entire fourth period. Beaubois’ quickness was a huge factor in Dallas’ success against Jennings early and Beaubois defense on the final play made Jennings look like a rookie for the very first time all year pretty much. I asked Jennings about Beaubois
(On whether he’s seen anyone as quick as him this year) No not really. I think he’s the future for that team.
- The strangest thing about Jennings game Monday? He had 25 points, 8 assists and 7 rebounds, IN HIS EIGHTH CAREER GAME, and that’s not turning heads at breakneck speed. Amazing how far he has come and how quick he’s done it. When he missed a three-pointer with .7 seconds left in regulation, more people were surprised he missed it than would have been surprised he made it.
- On a night when Andrew Bogut was rendered largely ineffective thanks to double teams by the Mavericks and some zone looks the Bucks haven’t gotten used to, Milwaukee got big production from Luke Ridnour and Ersan Ilyasova. 17 for Ridnour and 19/12 for Ersa Major. Combined they were 7-for-11 on threes and ended up with a +/- of +32. I’d say that’s a good effort. On the Bucks big 19-7 run in the third quarter that brought them back within five after things looked their bleakest, Ridnour and Ersan combined to score 17 of the Bucks 19 points.
- After a run on turnovers in the past few games, the Bucks did a much better job of holding on to the ball Monday night. The Bucks only coughed it up 10 times on the evening, leading to just 13 points. Taking care of the ball had a lot to do with why they were able to get back into this one.
- One game is a bad night. Two games is curious and three games is a trend. With that in mind, it’s a good thing the offensively challenged New Jersey Nets are coming in to town next, because the Bucks defense has not been up to par the last two games. After getting lit up for 125 points against Golden State Saturday, the Bucks allowed 115 points on over 50 percent shooting Monday night.
- The Bucks caught a big break too, when Shawn Marion hurt his ankle on the opening play and ended up missing the second half. Marion’s absence forced the Mavs to go small and allowed the Bucks to use Luc Richard Mbah a Moute on Dirk. Dirk scored only 10 in the second half on 12 shots.
- One game after allowing six opening quarter dunks/layups the Bucks allowed five. They had only once allowed five in the first quarter all year before the last two games. The Mavs rode those layups and dunks to 65 percent shooting in the first quarter and the Bucks were faced with an early deficit yet again.
- After two poor defensive efforts, it’s possible Scott Skiles will look to make some changes in the starting lineup before next game. He indicated before the game that he hasn’t been happy with Hakim Warrick’s play.
He hasn’t played very well. He’s struggled on the defensive end, he’s got to really make a lot of strides there. Offensively some games he’s been a factor in large part because his minutes haven’t been there. He’s in a different role. He’s starting, we have high expectations, we don’t let a lot of things slip. His normal role is to come off the bench, score a few points and sit back down. We’re asking for more and we’re going to keep asking for it. We think he’s capable.
I asked Hakim about his struggles after the game and whether being in the starting lineup has affected his aggressiveness.
I think I just got to play with a little more energy. The same intensity as if I’m coming off the bench. I think I’ve been playing a little too laid back. It’s a little adjustment, you just got to be ready to play no matter what and I haven’t been.
I wouldn’t rule out the insertion of Ilyasova into the starting lineup next game.
You never want to lose games you can win, but we often forget to factor in just how important luck is. In a two point game, a bounce of a ball here a bounce of a ball there and the Bucks pull this one out and are 6-2 heading into two easy games this week. But the ball bounced as it did and they fall to 5-3. All is not lost. The Bucks can still finish this home stand at 5-1 and have now shown themselves they can at least compete at the same level as some of the Western Conferences finest. That’s a step. The Bucks now have a day off before taking on an offensively inept team they should be able to pounce on. The Nets are a traveling confidence boost and the Bucks need to dismantle them to get the poor defensive efforts of the last two games out of their mouth.
In the mean time there is plenty of tape to watch, unfortunately we know it doesn’t end well.