“In case you haven’t noticed, and judging from the attendance you haven’t … the Bucks have managed to win a few here and there.”
Harry Doyle’s words have rarely rang so true. On a night where the Bradley Center was as empty as I’ve ever seen it for the Bucks, they pulled out another win, but that’s what they were supposed to do against a team coming in 0-11, right? I think so. And one of these days the Bucks are even going to figure this first half thing out.
The most bizarre thing about the Bucks struggles in the first and second quarter recently is the charge they’ve been coming out with immediately after half time. For visual proof, I present to you the start of the third quarter … after the jump of course.
A 15-0 start to the second half was the catalyst for Bucks victory Wednesday night. That putrid first half in which they allowed 48 points on 53 percent shooting to a team that had scored over 90 points just three times this year? Long forgotten when you glance at the win/loss column after this one. Looking quickly at the box score after this one gives the instant impression that the Bucks won handily. After all, the Bucks allowed only 12 points in the third quarter and mostly garbage points in the fourth.
But it was a struggle early. I swear.
- Andrew Bogut was one of the only Bucks to have anything going early, finishing the first quarter with 10 points on 5/7 shooting on an array of hooks and layups. It was a very smooth start after a few rough nights chasing around Corey Maggette and Drew Gooden. Finishing with 21 points and 10 rebounds, Bogut was relieved to be playing against an actual center again and it showed. Bogut’s offense seemed to fall into line since he wasn’t forced to step out of his comfort zone on defense.
It’s nice to actually play against a guy who wants to play in there. We got physical at times and it’s definitely nice to play against a seven footer that’s in the same weight class.
Bogut did appear to be limping after the game.
It’s okay, just a little shin contusion. I think I’ll be all right.
- When I said Bogut was “one” of the only Bucks, I assure you I had at least one more in mind. The other I was thinking of? Carlos Delfino. Delfino had eight first quarter points and finished with 21! His first regular season double digit game as a Buck! He was 4/8 from behind the arc and even added six assists! This is everything we could ever ask for and more out of Delfino. If he’s providing this kind of offense along with his usual relatively stingy defense, he’s exactly what the Bucks need on one of the wings. Scott Skiles was preaching consistency and reliability after the game, this is the effort we’d love to see Delfino make consistent.
- The Bucks faced their usual challenge from the free throw line on Wednesday, shooting 11/13 while the Nets finished the evening 22/25. The Nets owe a large portion of their success to Chris Douglas-Roberts, who finished the game with 31 points, including 12/14 from the line.
- Luke Ridnour is looking like a bonafide back-up point guard specialist for real. Another strong game which included a number of those sweet pull-up jumpers that Luke seems to specialize in. 7/11 and 2/4 from deep leading to 17 points. We’ll take that in a heartbeat.
- Defense was non-existent for large portions of the first half when the Nets had the ball. The biggest beneficiary of the Bucks charitable efforts on defense was Terrance Williams. In the second quarter Williams shot 8/9 and finished with 16 points. Williams was having no trouble scoring off the pick and roll, with Bogut struggling to get out on him. Williams rarely even had to take a tough shot, shooting right up and over Brandon Jennings, Luke Ridnour and Charlie Bell. Surely Williams ended up with a monster night, right? Not so much. He finished the second half without making another field goal, adding only four free throws to his total. Whatever adjustment Skiles made worked wonders.
- It wasn’t Williams alone that struggled in the second half. The Nets as a team shot 9/38 in the second half. That’s less than 25 percent for those of you counting at home. Regardless of how good of a job a team does defensively, a team has to be pretty bad to shoot less than 25 percent for an entire half. This was a truly awful second half performance.
The second half was so bad, I thought CDR was going to snap. He appeared to have gotten in a bit of a shouting match with assistant coach Doug Overton about what was going on on the court. I couldn’t hear Overton, but my colleague Alex from BrewHoop suggested it had something to do with a stretch where CDR got blocked, turned it over, got it back and missed a lay-up. CDR shouted at his bench, “we’re losing, what am I supposed to do?!”
I felt for CDR. He was working hard, he was trying to make plays and he was saddled with some teammates who’ve been injured and/or unable to get the job done to get this team a win. The whole team had that, “here we go again” look as soon as things started going South in the third quarter. CDR seemed like he didn’t want to let it happen again.
But then I saw him talking to Jennings.
Jennings didn’t have his usual stellar game, finishing with as many turnovers as assists (eight) and 19 points, but he made enough plays to help guide the Bucks to a win. He didn’t let anything sway him into making this the “Brandon Jennings Show” either. When the Nets were shutting down the pick and roll, he didn’t force the action, rather he was patient and worked it around and then back down to Bogut. CDR was talking to Jennings and wouldn’t stop while Jennings was on the free throw line. This didn’t look like the good natured, “you’re getting it done rook” kind of friendly trash talk either. I asked Jennings about it after the game.
Bucksketball: I saw CDR barking at you at the line. Was that him talking trash to try and get in your head?
Jennings: Oh yeah, just a little trash talk. On that play where I got fouled, I got fouled pretty hard, so you know, some words exchanged. It is what it is.
Bucksketball: You just brushing it off?
Jennings: Yeah, just brushing it off. They’re the one’s 0-12 not us.
Judging from the way the Bucks encouraged Jennings to attack the Warriors for disrespecting him (he says it was Kelvin Sampson that told him they were being disrespectful and to shoot more to make them pay) and the way Jennings kept the Bucks focused and intense down the stretch, upsetting the kid is not the way to attack the Bucks.
Frankly, it’s becoming more and more difficult to figure out how to attack these Bucks, much to the delight of a (hopefully growing) base of fans.