Bucks Run Out of Gas: Rockets 101 – Bucks 98
Who knew? Did anyone? I didn’t. My friends didn’t. My dad didn’t. I doubt if even Scott Skiles did.
But the Bucks have been holding out on us, because they DID have a great inbounds play ready and waiting in their pocket ready to be deployed. After pick and roll after pick and roll the Bucks finally changed their last second play philosophy and ran a beautiful inbounds play at the end of overtime while trailing the Houston Rockets by three. Brandon Jennings caught it, came off a screen, attacked the hoop and found a WIDE OPEN Luke Ridnour in the corner.
Now compare this play to the one the Bucks ended regulation with. An aborted pick and roll between Jennings and Andrew Bogut which broke down and resulted in Jennings dribbling the clock down and launching a long contested three-point jumper. Which has the better percentage? Even more, why don’t the Bucks have more plays like the one that came at the end of overtime so they don’t have to run plays like the one they ran at the end of regulation?
But it was not meant to be, as Ridnour couldn’t knock it down and send the game into double overtime. Which really was too bad, because the Bucks probably closed out a torturous six-game road trip with their best effort on the trip, only to lose it in overtime. They had an early lead, blew it and fought back with defense, rebounding and some timely shot making, three things that occasionally, rarely and always escape them (in that order).
Jennings had one of those games that’s difficult to judge. Sure, 25 points and seven assists are nice to see, especially with Mike Redd out, but at what cost did all those points come? Jennings still took too many long three’s, but that may have been because he was making them early. Jennings finished 9-24 and 4-9 from deep, but only took four free throws. When I speak about wanting to see Jennings be more aggressive, I don’t necessarily just mean more shots. I want to see him attacking the basket and leaving it off for teammates when he can’t get a good look. I will never complain about a Bucks point guard dropping 25 and seven in a win, but in a loss it can feel hollow.
- Luuuuuuuc. How about Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (If you don’t know, this is who I’m talking about when I write LRMAM)? 7-11 shooting for 15 points and eight rebounds. A stellar offensive performances from the consistently inconsistent LRMAM. He even hit a three and had a nice strong take to the rim early. Great effort from the Bucks defensive wiz.
- You may have noticed that I’ll occasionally take shots at Carlos Delfino. He’s not my ideal player for the Bucks and I’m not shy about letting loose on his shot selection and general play, but I’m not just a hater. ‘Los has got it done two games in a row, with 26 against Utah on a blistering hot shooting night and now a double double against the Rockets. Delfino finished 3-6 behind the arc on his way to 11 points and 10 rebounds. I can dig that, but I have trouble believing this will remain consistent.
- Consistency hasn’t been Bogut’s strong suit offensively, but defense and rebounding haven’t been much of a problem for the Bucks big man this year. Every night Bogut has been getting it done on the glass and defending the hoop. He kept it up against the Rockets on Monday, his 17 boards and six blocks keyed the Bucks defense. He took a huge charge on Aaron Brooks near the end of the game, but then fouled out on a poor foul as time wound down in OT.
- That power forward spot that the Bucks could use an defensive mined athlete at? It was a problem again. Luis Scola RIPPED the Bucks for a career high 27 points and 14 rebounds. Scola used his fine crafty moves and sank a few jump-shots to boot. The Bucks really could use someone at this spot that could provide more physical skills than Ersan Ilyasova and more size than Hakim Warrick. Ilyasova is too slow and not quite big enough to match-up with a lot of power forwards and while Warrick has the necessary speed, he’s just far too tiny to match-up with pretty much any power foward in the league on defense.
- Fouls were again a big problem for the Bucks though. Houston out free-throw shot the Bucks 28 to 11 on attempts. If the Bucks aren’t making three’s (which they weren’t 9-25) it’s tough for them to overcome that many fouls.
Well thank God this is done. A trip that we all know would be quite the challenge for the Bucks before the year has come to an end at 1-5. While less important in the short-term but possibly more pressing for the long-term health of the Bucks, they finished the trip have played three games fairly well and three awful. There wasn’t much in-between for the Bucks, it was all or nothing all trip. Milwaukee did a nice job to save the Suns game from the depths of a blowout and kept close or in the lead throughout the Rockets game. That’s all that really can be asked of the Bucks at this point. The talent isn’t really there to dominate, but if any NBA team can get it within a possession at the end, chances are that they’ll pull out as many of those as they’ll lose.
Of course, it’d be hard to convince many Bucks fans of those odds after the way this season has gone.