It’s hard to tell what was a more desperate scene: the Bucks launching three-point shots as time ticked away on their 109-97 loss to Washington or those in attendance attempting to navigate on the snowy Milwaukee streets after the game.
Neither was pretty, but both made me think about some things.
- I hate snow.
- I don’t want to return to 2007
You remember 2007, right? That was the year Charlie Bell and Michael Redd combined to average 31 shot attempts each and every night. Mo Williams often paired with these two to form one of the worst defensive backcourts in recent Bucks memory. Needless to say, the Bucks lost a whole lot more than they won in 2006-07. But I had been comfortably assuming for most of this year that those days were a distant memory.
Wednesday night served as some kind of horrific flashback though
It’s rare that you see a team stand out as particularly bad or particularly good defensively. Most teams give up roughly the same number of good looks and defend similar plays in similar fashions. Occasionally you’ll have a Boston or Golden State that jump off the screen as being real good or real bad. The same thing applies to most players. Unless a guy is a notable shot-blocker, ball-hawk or a virtual sieve, it’s hard to tell who’s especially good or bad defensively (this actually is one of the things that’s most impressive about Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, he isn’t a shot-blocker or anything, but it’s always so clear how proficient he is defensively whenever he’s guarding someone with the ball). But it was clear that Brandon Jennings was killing the rest of the Bucks defense whenever he was in Wednesday night. When Jennings was in the game, Washington’s backcourt generally had their way with the Bucks. Here are the numbers the three players Washington had at point guard put up while Jennings was in the game (Note: He was not always matched up on each player, sometimes they were in together. But Jennings suspect defense resulted in numerous open shots off help and switches):
Not bad numbers from any of them. Washington was going right at Jennings all night, whoever he was guarding took over point guard duties if they had in both Foye and Arenas. And in the fourth quarter, Boykins went to work showing Jennings how a little man can get off shots in the paint. Jennings shining moment was brief and swift when he blocked one of Boykins shots with ferocity (though he appears to have been incorrectly credited with a steal for the play).
While it wasn’t just Jennings that struggled on a night the Bucks allowed the Wizards to shoot over 50 percent, he certainly did not help matters. The Wizards “attack Jennings” game plan also left Jennings battling foul trouble all night long and sat him for all but 6:33 in the second half.
- So the Bucks finally got to the free throw line … and then stopped hitting three’s. Redd led the free-throw parade with a phenomenal 15-15 effort, as the Bucks went 28-33 as a team at the stripe. But Milwaukee faltered from behind the arc, finishing 5-25. If only they could have put them both together on the same night.
- I don’t know if Carlos Delfino and Ersan Ilyasova are bummed about not being home for the holidays or what, but they have struggled mightily lately and tonight was no different. They combined to go 2-15 and tossed up matching 1-5 efforts from behind the arc. Add on Ilyasova’s paltry two rebounds and we have ourselves a certifiable disaster of an evening on our hands. Oh, and Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison combined to go for 48 points and 20 rebounds.
- Back to Redd. His 32 points were a season high and the free throws were a delight, but he finished 8-21 from the field … and he started 5-5. Sigh. If Redd is springing for 32 with that kind of usage, the Bucks are going to be doomed to repeat their previous three years offensively. Too often it became the, “let’s stand around and hope Michael can do something” offense of past years on Wednesday, especially when Andrew Bogut wasn’t able to get much going.
There wasn’t much to like about this one. Ugly basketball, ugly outcome and an ugly night to boot. The best thing we can all do, is get outside and shovel away the snow and the memories of Wednesday night’s Bucks game.
Fortunately, night’s like this one have been the exception this year and not the rule for a change. And that’s something to feel good about after a tough loss. There was once a time when this kind of effort was common place at the Bradley Center and it’s hard to change that over night. Night’s like this were less frequent last year and have continued to trend in a positive direction this year and hopefully by 2011 they will be vanquished for good. But for now? They’re still going to happen. So all the Bucks can do is learn from the mistakes and move forward.