A Loss In More Than 140 Characters: Suns 105 – Bucks 101

Recap/Box Score/Valley of the Suns

As the Bucks began their immediate fall and subsequent rise Monday evening I documented the journey on Twitter.  Unfortunately, Twitter limits the space in which we can document, so let’s take a closer look at some of my Tweets to break down Monday’s Bucks – Suns game.

It’s just frustrating knowing games are over before they start. I’ve prepped myself for it mentally, but it’s no less draining to watch.

This was a mid-first quarter Tweet as the Bucks did their very best to dig themselves a significant hole.  Jumpers were clanging (and sometimes missing everything as in the case of Brandon Jennings), Andrew Bogut couldn’t get his post game going, the Bucks trailed 22-2 in points in the paint and the Suns were more often than not hitting shots.  That is how a team gets down 20 points in the first quarter.

Knowing the Bucks are coming into many of these games with less talent than their opponents has me at least prepared for a loss before I watch, but it’s still frustrating to see open shots missed for Milwaukee and made for other teams.

36-13 Suns. Can I just hit fast forward on this television until Wednesday? On the plus side, lots of Jennings/Meeks/LRMAM minutes today.

Negative Jeremy had certainly taken over at this point as positive Jeremy was well on his way to a good night’s sleep.  Seeing the young guys play extra minutes appeared to be the only purpose this game would serve as the Bucks looked fairly pathetic at this point.  I was actually surprised I hadn’t seen more Jodie Meeks at this point.  I really didn’t expect Carlos Delfino to be the Bucks first guard off the bench, since he’s not all that good at anything.  But Delfino did play quite a bit.

Delfino just shot a three from the bench I think. Unreal.

What was fascinating about this specific play was that Delfino had passed up a shot Jason Richardson had no problem ceding to him directly at the three-point line.  He passed it off to Ridnour and then hopped six feet behind the three-point line on the other side of the court and tossed up a 30-footer.  Nice.

Bucks starting to throw some punches at the Suns. Always good to see fight.

The tide began to turn in the second quarter and I was actually surprised.  The Bucks bench has been above average all year, so I should have had more faith in them, but there have been a lot of games this year where the Bucks take a huge blow and then play it even the rest of the way.  I thought that was the blueprint for this one, but I guess I gave the Suns too much credit.

The fight back effort was led largely by Hakim Warrick, who had one of his finest games in a series of fine games with 21 points and ten rebounds.  Warrick was 4-4 at the rim, leading the way for the Bucks there.  He was also an unreal 4-5 from 16-23 feet and that’s probably not a good sign.  He will have a hard time replicating that performance, but now may continue to give it a try.

Sweet pass from Jennings to Warrick and a smart catch and land by Warrick instead of a forced layup on the catch

This was the type of play I long expected to see often between Jennings and Warrick, but haven’t seen much.  Jennings tossed a lob inside to Warrick and while a dunk would be preferred, he mistimed the jump and had to settle for a catch/land/layup maneuver, which still works just fine.  When Jennings is playing confidently he’ll toss a few more risky passes around and more often than not they’ll result in open looks or easy baskets for his teammates.  The problem is that he’s been playing more rigidly lately as games have gone on, resulting in fewer risks, but fewer positive plays as well.  A non-risky Jennings is much less dynamic and overall less of a threat to the other team than a Jennings taking risks and making plays.

I hope one day Jennings starts making pull-up jumpers again

I Tweeted this after he missed on a break that would have tied the game or put the Bucks down one, I can’t recall.  Regardless, my wish came true near the end of the game.  Jennings rattled off consecutive three’s minutes later in the third, before following those up with a bad miss from the top of the key.  It’s a give and take.  Everyone wants Jennings to take some more chances (like I just said before) and feel free to shoot the shots he can get, but as he gets older he’ll probably get a better feel for using his three-point shot makes to set up his drives to the rim.  Instead of pulling up for another three like I’m sure Steve Nash loved to concede, it would have been nice to see he and Bogut run their pick and roll for one of them to get a look going to the hoop.

The Suns are awfully loose with the basketball, if there is one thing the Bucks have done well, it’s force turnovers

This is more or less what really kept the Bucks in the game all night.  The Suns turned it over 17 times to the Bucks 11 and kept them from re-breaking it open.  Nash specifically was loose, giving it up seven times.  But you won’t often hear anyone complaining about that, it’s just part of his game.  He and Jason Kidd often turn the ball over as much as anyone, it’s just part of the game when you’re making as many plays as those two are.  Like I said about Jennings before, when he’s limiting turnovers and trying to be too careful instead of aggressive, he won’t turn it over but he isn’t being dynamic.  Sometimes Nash thinks someone will be in one place where they’ll get a good look and he’ll put it there assuming they’ll end up there, then they don’t.  He gets the turnover and the other team could end up with a basket, but next time they might see what he’s seeing and be ready in the spot he wants them for an easy basket.  It’s not just about those single plays with a guy like Nash, it’s about the entire game and future.

Opportunity is there, Bucks need to close the gap all the way. Haven’t gotten the stops they’ve needed.

They were “Oh, so close” so many times in the fourth quarter and it seemed like each time the Suns came back with exactly what they needed, be it a Amare Stoudamire basket inside or a Nash pull-up three.  That’s the advantage of having talented players who can make shots at every position.  And having a superstar like Nash.  Luke Ridnour eventually did get the Bucks over the hump with a stellar seven point run of his own, but the Suns jumped back ahead by two.  And then ….

This is why Andrew Bogut isn’t an All-Star

Okay, this wasn’t on my Twitter, but I did say something to this effect on the Daily Dime Chat Monday night.  Bogut is the Bucks best defender, the heart of the team and their unquestioned leader, but why can’t he seal the deal on inside looks?  I get that his game is largely based on incredible touch, but his 42 percent mark from inside ten feet this season loomed large last night.  Bogut was 2-6 inside ten feet and just 3-7 at the rim, including a HUGE missed layup on a gorgeous pass on the pick and roll from Brandon Jennings.

Bogut finished the evening 5-16 against a Phoenix front line that I wouldn’t exactly call intimidating.  His inconsistencies continue to baffle the multiple fans of the Milwaukee Bucks.  This certainly was not what everyone desired for Bogut’s latest post-Michael Redd game.  On a day where the Bucks needed their best player to step up, he was no where to be found offensively.

Final Thoughts

And just like that, the Bucks are five games under .500 with four more difficult road games facing them.  Getting the game in Phoenix would have made this trip much easier, but now there are no guarantees that they’ll be able to scrape out even a single victory.  It was very positive to see the Bucks fight back without Redd and with Coach Scott Skiles hospitalized before the game, but the fight wasn’t quite furious enough.  It bodes well that they didn’t let themselves fall out of the game and that could serve them very well when traveling to Golden State later in the week, a team with a similar style to Phoenix and considerably less talent.

But for a team attempting to stay relevant in the playoff picture, six consecutive losses, hard fought or not, would certainly be a significant blow.  The Bucks will need to figure out how to do more than just close the gap in the next few games.

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1 Comment

  1. Bogut’s problems finishing at the rim are a consequence of his relatively poor athleticism. He’s not a leaper and looks even less mobile since returning from his back injury. I imagine as his career progresses, he’ll improve his percentage on hooks and maybe learn to use the glass more ala Tim Duncan. But for this season, it’s still a painful reality that he is not quite the elite center we need to compete nightly.