Just enough … for once: Bucks 99 – Bulls 97
Just let me have one moment. However fleeting you’ll insist it may be, all I ask for is one simple moment. I know you’re waiting around the corner from my moment Pessimistic Bucks Fan. I know you’re sitting there waiting to tell me it’s only a matter of time before Andrew Bogut gets hurt again. I know you want to say “they rushed him back and then he played nearly 35 minutes? Are these guys nuts? He’ll by out by next week!” But I don’t care about any of that right now. All I care about is what happened tonight.
The Bucks eeked one out. That’s something they haven’t been able to do lately and it doesn’t imply that they are any better than they were last week or the week before. Generally, there is a decent amount of luck involved in one possession games. The Bucks certainly came close to blowing this one, but didn’t and that’s a good thing. A large part of the reason they were in it is the largest guy on the team.
Bogut’s play figuratively (and at times quite literally) leapt off the court for the majority of his 34:39 on the court. He was mobile and showed no sign of the injury that had kept him shelved for the previous five games. He frequently carried the Bucks for extended stretches on offense. When he wasn’t the focal point, he was often the release valve if the Bucks struggled to get a good shot. Bogut brought his entire offensive repertoire in this one: hooks, baby hooks, left hand, right hand and runners. It all started with Bogut in the paint on offense. 22 points on 10-19 shooting. Ask Joakim Noah if Andrew Bogut is back, he spent the better part of four quarters getting destroyed.
But that’s not the best part.
The best part was what Bogut brought on defense. And that my friends, was solidity. Suddenly the Bucks were no longer allowing express access at the hoop. Ask Luol Deng how easy it is to get to the bucket and dunk on the Bucks with Bogut manning the middle. His dunks were two of the not-so-happy recipients of fourth quarter rejections courtesy of the Aussie. Bogut finished with four blocks and three steals. To compliment those defensive numbers, Bogut pulled down ten defensive rebounds en route to 15 total. Looking purely at the numbers, Bogut’s 22-15-3-4-3 aren’t all that more appealing than Noah’s 16-17-1-1-1, but the live action part of this game told a completely different story than the statistics. Bogut pushed Noah around and controlled the paint with ferocity. In a battle between two possible Dwight Howard all-star backup hopefuls, Bogut won going away.
So I urge you Bucks fan, enjoy this. Don’t look at it with any unrelenting negativity. We cannot predict the future. We do not know if this one injury will snowball into two, three or four more for Bogut this year. All we can do is hope he stays healthy and active. On this one evening he was everything we wanted him to be, everything a number one pick should be. So even if it was fleeting, I urge you to bask in the enjoyability of this moment.
- Have I mentioned that Andrew Bogut had a good game? I did? Okay. Well he certainly didn’t suck. Just wanted that to be clear.
- The Bucks dished out 29 assists Monday’s night against just 11 turnovers. That’s nearly a 3-1 ratio. That’s pretty good and was a great indication of how well the Bucks moved the ball around. They got contribution’s from everyone. Look at the starting line-up.
- Everyone pitched in Monday night. Let’s do a quick run down: Charlie Bell – 16 points, Carlos Delfino – 15 points, Brandon Jennings – 15 points and Ersan Ilyasova – 13 points. A pretty solid night from the starting unit. Delfino hit three third quarter three’s, Bell had eight first quarter points and Jennings …
- The numbers don’t necessarily support my assertion that Jennings had a nice game (15 points on 5-15 shooting with eight assists and three turnovers), but he really did. He made a number of “point guard plays” that really impressed me, including a pass that looked like it was going to be a jump shot that set Warrick up nicely to drive by Brad Miller for a dunk. Jennings was more than happy to let Bogut play alpha-dog on a night when he clearly had it going for him, something you love to see out of your point guard. As for that 5-15 he threw up?
The issue with his offensive game certainly isn’t his three-point shot. He went 3-4 from behind the arc, but still finished 5-15. That leaves him 2-11 inside the arc. That’s been a problem for Jennings lately.
That’s roughly 20 percent inside the arc. 20. That’s not-so-good. He’s been terrific from deep, that’s what Jennings fancies himself as though, a three-point shooter. We never would have known that coming into the year, but I think it was an incredibly well kept secret by the entire Bucks organization. Jennings on the matter:
I’m a long distance shooter. As you see, I shoot better from long distance. I put a lot of arc on my shot. I like to shoot a lot of three’s, it just feels better. When I’m in the lane I tend to shoot a little bit too hard. (On the floater) I learned in pre-season that I wasn’t going to be able to go to the rack that much, so I had to change things quickly and get a floater going. It makes things easier. It’s still in the development phase.
It’s a part of his game that will prove crucial down the road, but think about it for a second. If you had Jennings talent, would you ever do anything but drive by people and shoot three’s when you were in high school? Who could stop him from doing either? Sure, he probably had opportunities to work on the floater and in-between game in Europe, but it was hardly any more necessary there than it was in high school. He wasn’t getting minutes anyway and who knew what the NBA would hold. I’m confident he’ll straighten this thing out by the end of the year or by the start of next.
The necessity of this game could have been argued before it started, but that’s irrelevant now. It’s just nice to see the Bucks back in the win column and Bogut back on the court. The defense looked at least a little bit “fixed” and the Bucks remain a tough team to beat at home. The questions surrounding the strength of their schedule and whether or not the Bucks are a playoff team or simply a team lucky enough to feast on cupcakes in their first 11 games can still be asked, but at least the Bucks have finally snapped their losing streak. We’ve seen too many of those over the years to have to stomach another one this early in the season. The fact that this win came against the Bulls, a divisional rival and potential playoff chase partner, was icing on the cake.
And with Washington up Wednesday the Bucks get another chance at a winnable road game. But let’s not worry about that just yet. Let’s just enjoy our moment.