If we can be certain about anything regarding an inconsistent Bucks team through 39 games, it’s that they’ll be putting on a good show at home.
In their first home game in 12 days, the Bucks withstood a career night (44 points) from one of the most discussed players in the league these days, Chris Bosh and for once got the right bounces in the end of a 113-107 home victory Wednesday night.
Sometimes in these few possession games, that’s what it’s all about, a bounce here and a bounce there. Sure, it’s awfully important for a team to keep it close the rest of the game to give themselves a chance at the end, but once two teams get down to business in the last few minutes, it’s often a flip of a coin that decides who pulls it out and who doesn’t. To this date, the Bucks haven’t been on the lucky side of the coin very often this year as evidenced by their 3-9 record in games decided by three points or less.
But a pair of offensive rebounds by Ersan Ilyasova, one coming on a one handed snag of a ball seemingly heading out of bounds, and a ball ricocheting off the Raptors out of bounds that eventually led to a Milwaukee basket finally allowed the Bucks to pull this type of game out. Oh, and the 6-7 performance at the line in the last five minutes didn’t hurt either.
Much in the same way the Bucks didn’t have much for Chris Bosh on Wednesday, the Raptors couldn’t handle Andrew Bogut. Bogut attacked the undersized front line of the Raptors all night and everyone was eager to get him the ball from the get-go. Bogut finished 6-6 at the rim and 5-8 inside ten feet. For those of you who hate math, that equals out to 11-14 (78.5 percent) on all shots inside of ten feet, which is very good.
When Bogut has his touch so zeroed in on the hoop, it bodes well for the Bucks when they are feeding him the ball and encouraging him to be aggressive. And when the other team doesn’t double team or comes late with it? That’s like open season for Bogut. He finished with 27 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks, or what I call a terrific night.
- Brandon Jennings could have used some of Bogut’s touch on Wednesday. Jennings finished 5-21 and was only 3-7 at the rim. On the plus side, he led the team in shots at the rim and did have a pair of nice layups in the third quarter as the Bucks were making a charge.
It hurts to look up and see Jennings with such a brutal shooting line, but if we look further into it, it isn’t quite as bad. On two of Jennings missed layups, the Bucks were able to get tip shots at the rim after the defense collapsed on him, so while they are misses, they created shots for other players. That’s why it’s so important for Jennings to attack the rim, even if he misses it can have a positive result and it did on half of his missed layups Wednesday.
- In a moderately anticipated debut, Jerry Stackhouse looked better than I expected. What stands out about his three point, five rebound and four assist effort was specifically the way he got those rebounds and how it reflected his play. Stackhouse finished with four offensive rebounds, an amount that’s borderline lucky for a guard, but it didn’t appear to be luck in the way he got them. Sure, anyone can hang around the perimeter and jump for a long rebound caroming his way, but that’s not what Stack did.
He worked his way inside while shots were in the air and grabbed three of his rebounds directly under the rim. That’s all effort and strength, two things the Bucks need from their shooting guards (they’ve got the effort, just not the strength). Stackhouse played a very unselfish game and seemed to be looking to set guys up without going out of his game to do it. Everything he did looked natural. His thoughts:
I think with the players we got I’m not going to have to force the issue. If I can command attention just from having the ball I’m going to try and do what I did tonight and get the ball to the other guys. I feel good, I got the ice bags going, hopefully that’ll combat any ills I got.
- And for a third consecutive game, the Bucks got a stellar performance from Carlos Delfino. As a matter of fact, over his last five games, Delfino has hit 14 of 28 of the threes he’s attempted and averaged 15 points a night. He worked his way into the starting line-up Wednesday and suffered no drop off, which had to please coach Skiles, a man who’s been looking for any sort of consistency from his wings this year. Skiles take on Delfino’s play:
He seems to be back more like he was in exhibition when he was knocking down perimeter shots. Every game we have a free-throw deficit and one of the only ways we can make up for that is by making threes.
Bosh was a difficult guard for Bogut; he’s awfully quick and when he’s hitting some mid-range shots it’s hard for Bogut to stick with him. But, while Bosh may have gotten his, but the Bucks did a terrific job in limiting opportunities for everyone else once it was clear Bosh was on fire. The rest of the Raptors shot just 23 for 59 or roughly 39 percent.
- Luke Ridnour specifically made a few big defensive plays in the third quarter. The pressure on an inbound pass by Ridnour and Francisco Elson combined for a sloppy turnover by Jose Calderon that Ridnour turned into a short jumper for two. Later, with time winding down on the third quarter, DeMar Derozan was coming at Ridnour hard and fast on the break in a three-point game. Ridnour did what he does best and attack Derozan right before he was able to get the ball in a shooting position and ended up forcing a jump ball.
Ridnour reminds me of David Duchovny’s character on Californication: he’s kind of unassuming looking but he can flip the badass switch rather quickly and punch someone out. Only Ridnour isn’t punching people out on the court, he’s crushing anyone who thinks they are getting an easy layup on a fast break while he’s around.
The Bucks needed this win at home if only to remember what it felt like to get a win against a healthy team. As they travel to Toronto on Friday they can feel good about having beat the Raptors twice this year because they’ll need all of their confidence and effort if they’re going to be the Raptors on the road. If Bogut can put together another night like this and Chris Bosh comes back down to Earth a little bit, Friday will be a prime opportunity to steal one on the road.