(I know I just put out a piece complaining about the refs, but typically I’m not overly ridiculous or biased. So this is a more true to form recap. If you’re a Laker fan and that borderline cry-baby piece I put out before was your first taste, give this a shot. I’m not typically so homeriffic. At least I hope not.)
We’ll start with the Kobe shots. Because really there were two that were the same. He missed it at the end of regulation and sunk it at the end of overtime. I’d like the think that shot’s difficult for him, but it probably really isn’t. Yes, it’s a fade-away and for most of us it would be borderline impossible, but for Kobe? That’s just all in a day’s work. And with a 6’3 defender guarding him? Come on. So that’s where we’ll start.
Why wasn’t Luc Richard Mbah a Moute on Kobe? That was the first question on my and most other die hard Bucks fan’s minds as that ball sunk through the net. Naturally the first thing I asked coach Scott Skiles was whether or not he thought about putting the Bucks best defender back in to guard the best shot maker in the NBA on the last shot of the game:
Not really. He was out too long. I thought about it, yeah, but he was out quite a while. As I said, I put Mbah a Moute back in on Nowitzki and he shot right over him and scored. Kobe’s going to get his shot off right there, I thought Charlie played good position defense on him, he just made it.
Not bringing him in because he hadn’t played in a while makes some sense. Bringing in a guy who’s ice cold and stiff to guard Kobe Bryant doesn’t seem conducive to success. Mbah a Moute last played at the 11:48 mark of the fourth quarter and played a total of 26 minutes, so whether he was stiff or cold is probably up for some debate. It’s one thing to throw a guy in who hasn’t played all game, it’s another to bring someone in who’s been in the game and defending that specific player whom is going to take the last shot for most of the game. It’s funny he mentions the Nowitzki shot from earlier this year. Here’s what Dirk had to say about that shot:
“I used my size advantage and when it left my hand, I thought it was going straight in. The bounce was obviously lucky.”
The size advantage was obviously useful, it gave him a clean look at the hoop because he’s four inches taller than LRMAM. Anyone want to guess how many inches taller Kobe is than Charlie Bell? Four inches. Kobe’s fade-away is tough to defend for guys his size, but for the 6’3 Bell? Impossible. He got a clean look because Bell simply couldn’t physically challenge it as well as someone bigger. Someone like LRMAM maybe?
Here’s Luc Richard’s take:
Charlie was doing a great job on him the whole fourth quarter. Even the possession before that sent it to overtime he played him real good. I would have played him the same way. He’s been making those shots for a while now. He’s the best, that’s the reason why.
One can’t help but think if Luc Richard played it the same way the results may have been better. Skiles deserves a break on this, he’s made a lot of the correct moves and pushed a lot of the right buttons, but this one seemed a mistake to me.
- Michael Redd appeared healthy for the first time since the second game of the season. This is good and bad.
The good: 25 points for a team occasionally devoid of scoring ability, four assists including a crucial “pass up a tough shot and dish to the wide open Ersan Ilyasova” move and not including a moment in which Redd deferred to Bogut who was immediately fouled for two free throws (he hit on both). In addition, Redd grabbed seven boards, threw down a dunk and came up with a nifty strip of Bryant in the fourth. Redd often looked like the exact scorer the Bucks need and scored nine in the fourth quarter.
The bad: the ultra-quick shots off screens, which don’t go in very often and typically come with lots of time left on the shot clock. Redd took a few tough three’s with under two minutes to go in regulation that drew the ire of Scott Skiles. Those are the shots the Bucks could live without. If he cuts down on those and hits the shots he’s getting in the flow, he probably shoots six or so less shots and makes two less. We’re not talking high percentage shots that he needs to cut out, just the impossible ones that he occasionally hits. Scott Skiles thoughts on Redd’s shot selection:
I thought he took two or three highly questionable ones. As we do with all of our guys, we give him the benefit of the doubt on most of that, especially a guy who hasn’t played a whole lot.
Redd’s thoughts when I asked if he needs to start passing up shots he used to take:
Play basketball. Play basketball. If a man’s open you hit him, if you got the shot, shoot it, that’s how I play man. So, that’s how I’ve always played. Just play basketball. You’re at your best when you don’t think and just play.
- Over at BrewHoop, Alex referred to Ilyasova as “Turk Nowitzki”. Boy, do I love that. The Turk poured in 24 Wednesday and made a number of plays you won’t find in a box score near you. You’ll notice in the play-by-play that Mike Redd is credited with an offensive rebound at 2:16 left in overtime. How’d he get that board? Ilyasova came barreling in and knocked the ball loose from the grips of Kobe Bryant. Redd would hit a three after a Milwaukee time out, all thanks to Ilyasova. You see that three Ilyasova hit to put the Bucks up 79-78 in the fourth? That was an insane step-back in Kobe’s face. He even bounced off the Lakers star.
- But it wasn’t all good for the Turk. Two missed free throws in OT, two lane violations and a generally inability to help keep Pau Gasol off the boards (not that anyone’s been able to do that lately) all added up for a crucial few points in the Laker’s favor.
- Before the game I gave the Bucks the advantage at the center position. I wavered back and forth on it before committing, but ultimately decided Bogut has a minuscule edge on Bynum when defense is factored in. Well, Bogut had a major edge in this one. 16 points, 12 boards and three blocks for Bouges to eight and three for Bynum. Major edge for the Bucks. Except for that missed free throw at the end of regulation that probably would have won the game for the Bucks. Yeah, that one looms a little large in the win.
- The problem for Bogut? Keeping Gasol off the glass. Gasol used all sorts of slip moves and effort to grab 22 boards. On top of that he feasted when the Lakers dumped it inside to him, finishing with 26 points. 26-22-4-4. That’s what you call a monster night. Gasol and the Lakers did work inside in the second half, winning the points in the paint battle 30-20 in the second half after losing it 18-16 in the first.
- Kobe. 39 points on 13-28 shooting. Only one three-point shot made and 12-12 from the line. That’s just ridiculous. Kobe refused to be stopped and kept attacking the Bucks all game. He’s unguardable. Damn him.
- The Lakers finished the evening 29-33 from the line. Good things happen when a team attacks the basket and has two (and sometimes three) seven footers up front. The Bucks were their typical 12-17 from the stripe on the night. The free throw line tells the story with even more accuracy than usual tonight too. Ersan and Bogut’s misses were gigantic, we may never speak about the block/charge is Bogut sinks the plus one free throw with three seconds to go. Overall the Lakers had a 17 point positive free throw difference and while it’s offset some by the Bucks 18 point edge on three-pointers, it still looms large.
A bummer. That’s what this one was. It hurts to be so close and unable to finish it out, that much was clear in the Bucks locker room after the game. Redd appeared to be in something of a daze, Brandon Jennings was too upset to hang around and even Charlie Bell bolted fairly quickly. No one uttered the words “moral” and “victory” in the same sentence. But realistically, this game was something of a positive for the Bucks. You don’t get extra points for beating the best teams, so it’s not important that the Bucks beat the best team in the league. Every win would be nice, but it was even better to see Redd have some success and the Bucks look like a pretty good basketball team.
But a win would have been sweet.