Defense remains in absentia: Wizards 104 – Bucks 102

Recap/Box Score

The hundreds aren’t the way to go for the Bucks.  The Bucks have allowed their opponent to score 100+ points on eight occasions this year.  The Bucks are 2-6 in those games.  They have held their opponent under 100 points nine times.  The Bucks are 7-2 int hose games.  Sometimes, it’s just that easy.  But for as much as the idea is easy, the execution of that idea isn’t quite as easy.

The stats against Washington were not pretty Wednesday night.  The Wizards largely had their way with the Bucks defense:

  • 54.3 percent shooting
  • 25 made free throws to nine for the Bucks
  • Six players in double figures
  • 25-10 advantage on fast break points
  • 13 dunks/layups to eight for the Bucks

54 percent shooting?  Doesn’t that say it all?  Not often can a team win a game in which they allow 54 percent shooting unless they’re on fire themselves.  The free throw differential was excessive as usual and while the Bucks made up those points by hitting six more three’s than the Wizards, that kills them.  Having to make three’s is difficult.  Teams don’t often shoot more than 40 percent on three’s and that’s what keeps the Bucks overall shooting percentage down.  But that doesn’t even kill them in this one if any defense is played.

The Buck guards aren’t having much success keeping their men out of the paint.

Nick Young for one was shredding the Bucks.  The same Nick Young whose game I was so critical of Wednesday morning.  The Nick Young who does nothing but score.  Well, he again did little but score (he did chip in five rebounds) but he scored a whole bunch.  Young poured in 21 points on 7-12 shooting.  Toss in his 7-7 performance from the free throw line and he joins Vince Carter, John Salmons and Thabo Sefolohsa as the latest shooting guard to score with great efficiency.  The return of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute should help the Bucks in the next few games, but still won’t fix the Bucks alone.  Jennings has been getting shredded with some regularity too and that reared it’s head again when Earl Boykins sprung for 11 in the fourth quarter.  It’s tough to nail down what exactly has put the Bucks in this rut, but they need to figure out how to consistently bring more effort on the defensive end.


That’s enough about the defense.  It hasn’t been great and they’ll have to figure it out soon.  But the offense isn’t without it’s faults.

  • That three-point shooting to free-throw shooting situation I was talking about?  It rears it’s head at seemingly the worst times.  The Bucks are down 100-99 with 33 seconds left.  They bring it down the court and work the offense a little, eventually leading to a pick and roll in which Brandon Jennings dribbled into the paint drawing Charlie Bell’s man off of him.  Jennings kicked it out to bell standing outside the three-point line.  This was probably the best shot the Bucks could get at this point.  Bell shot and missed leading to a Wizard three-point lead with less than 20 seconds to go.  But if the Bucks have a guy who can drive here he could have caught that ball outside wide open as Bell did and made a move to get into the paint for free throws or a lay-up.  It’s  an offensive dimension they lack and brings the probability of a basket from roughly 50 percent on plays like these down to the high 30’s.  More often than not, Bell won’t make that shot.
  • The Brandon Jennings struggles continue.  17 points on 7-21 shooting with seven assists and zero turnovers.  Some things to like, some things to hate.  He hit a clutch three with roughly 10 seconds left that tied it up, but then fouled Boykins with one second left while he was shooting, putting a 94 percent free throw shooter on the line in a tie game.  And that was the game.  Jennings was 5-13 inside the arc, a small victory in a way.  He hit a number of runner/floater shots that he hasn’t been making lately and it was his uncharacteristic 2-8 showing behind the arc that really brought down his percentage.  This is a probably a realistic idea of how good he is right now, but not any glimpse into the future.  He’ll get better and he’ll probably be a pretty significant threat on a more consistent basis as early as next year.  The seven assists and zero turnovers are a good indication that he is indeed a point guard though.
  • Bogut STRUGGLED.  I was worried Brendan Haywood’s length and strength would give Bogut problems and they certainly did.  He was getting very few clean looks and his touch didn’t seem to be there even when he did get some looks.  On the plus side he was able to dish out five assists, a sign that he recognized it was not a favorable match-up for him.
  • With all the negative things I’ve had to say about this one, you must be wondering how the Bucks were even this close.  The bench.  Luke Ridnour and Hakim Warrick each had 20.  Ridnour on his typical collection of pull-up jumpers and occasional three point shot and Warrick on a few jump shots and a bunch of dunks/layups and free throws.  The Bucks were 9-12 on free throws — Warrick was 8-8.  That’s the kind of Warrick performance that we’d love to see every game and the Bucks need more often.

Final Thoughts

Good teams don’t win close games, they avoid them.  That’s the adage I think most sums up a game like this.  If the Bucks were all that good, they would have blown the Wizards out of this one.  On a basic level, they outplayed the Wizards, only nine turnovers to the Wiz’s 17.  The Bucks didn’t play sloppy, but lacked the ability to absolutely get buckets when they needed them.  And the defense sucked.  So that’s how we ended up here.  Now 9-8 the Bucks outlook doesn’t really change all that much.  They still need to figure out how to bring more effort on the road and they will be better when they get LRMAM back ideally.  Chalk this one up as a bad loss and one to remember when the Bucks are trying to scrape together a few wins to make the playoffs at the end of the year.

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  1. how about Ily? He started great, he was even the best one on the floor in first 8 mins. But the coach (not Skiles) decided “not” to keep it on the floor. He is better than Hakim and Im not just talking about offense here; effectiveness, toughness and competitiveness. When he sit too much, he got “cold” . I bet fouls happened cause he lost the concentration … then game lost … too sad :/ I like to hear your thought on this, though.

  2. Ilyasova got into some foul trouble in the third, so it was hard to go back to him once Warrick started scoring so well. It would have been nice to have him out there for the sake of rebounds and defense though. Right before he got bounced he grabbed offensive rebounds on consecutive possessions. I thought he should have got a look at least at the three spot. Then he and Warrick could both have been out there.

  3. I was actually at this game, considering I recently moved to DC, unfortunately the Bucks lost the one game I get to see (2 if I wait til March).

    From my perspective these were a few major problems:

    Ersan’s foul trouble contributing to the Bucks being a non-factor on the boards. As you watch most of the shots go up, you notice no Bucks jerseys on the offensive end. Warrick’s 4 rebs in 32 minutes and Bogut’s 7 in 39 minutes. Ersan played 14 minutes and had 5 rebs. Ersan has been finding to crash the offensive glass tough and be in the right spots down low, that Warrick is just not contributing while in for Ersan.

    Skiles ejection. From what we’ve seen so far this season, Skiles would not have settled for the lack of effort/ability from some of the guys last night and would have rotated the bench more. Bogut is coming off an injury and may be expected to have an off night, but you can’t afford to just play him if he’s unproductive. Redd certainly didn’t get that shot in his return. Bogut had a terrible night, 4-14 shooting in the paint? 8 pts, 7 rebs, 3 blks, 39 minutes and it looked worse than that. He mishandled so many passes down low that it was upsetting.

    Jennings struggles recently look self inflicted. He’s looking to pass first far to frequently, which can be good in a point guard SOMETIMES. Arenas looked way to slow to guard Jennings and Boykins was just too small. Jennings kept himself in check by shooting long jumpers all night and passing the ball away. The biggest offensive match-up advantage for the Bucks was Jennings guarded by either PG. Truthfully, Jennings on Boykins was the best match-up for the Bucks defensively too, right up until the fourth quarter when Boykins and Haywood found a big hole in our Pick and Roll defense and kept going to it. Jennings was giving Boykins problems all night until that little 5 minute stretch.

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