“We need multiple guys doing the damage out there. That’s our formula right now, that’s the way our team is constructed. We spread the ball around, I say it all the time, they’re unselfish and try and hit the open man and play good team basketball. When we’re playing well and we’re clicking we are gonna have four or five guys in double figures.”
– Scott Skiles 2/24/2010
Yes, one night before the Bucks put seven players into double figures, Scott Skiles was singing the praises of his teams unselfishness and insisting that it would take a lot of different scorers for the team to have success. And he always claims he doesn’t know what’s coming next.
You fooled us all Coach, you fooled us all.
The Bucks got double figure points from seven different players Thursday night.
John Salmons 20
Brandon Jennings 18
Ersan Ilyasova 17
Andrew Bogut 15
Luke Ridnour 12
Jerry Stackhouse 11
Carlos Delfino 10
And they needed every last point to get past the pesky Pacers in the fourth quarter. After taking control of the game in the second and further exerting their collective wills in the third, the Bucks let things get away from them a little in quarter four. After grabbing a 14-point lead, two Pacer threes sandwiched around a layup brought Indiana back within six points with four minutes to go.
But the Bucks kept one play ahead of the Pacers.
A Troy Murphy three to close the gap to just three points? Meet a Jennings jumper. An Earl Watson tip shot to make it a two point contest? Meet two free-throws for Salmons. The Bucks were losing it, without losing it and ultimately stopped before they lost it. Simple enough?
It’s obvious whether or not a team is upper echelon in the NBA and the Bucks displayed the qualities that will keep them out of that next level for the foreseeable future on Thursday. The Bucks had the Pacers on the ropes, down 14 in the fourth quarter. One more spurt by the Bucks would have put the game away halfway through the quarter and made it an early night. But the Bucks didn’t quite have it in them. The Bucks don’t always have that spurtability that really good teams break out when they want to finish off an opponent. Sometimes the Bucks demonstrate it at home, rarely are they able to bust it out on the road. That’s just the life of an ever developing team fighting for playoff positioning. Sometimes they’ll close out the Pacers of the world and sometimes they won’t. Thursday was a won’t.
- Jennings got Hero Syndrome a little bit at the end of the game, taking an ill-advised floater and long jumper late in the fourth quarter after he hit a big three. These are things everyone has to deal with for now and hope takes care of themselves later. I’m working under the impression that some day Jennings will make these shots and we’ll all go home happy more often than not. As mentioned, Jennings had 18 (6-18 FG 2-4 3FG) and he chipped in seven assists with just two turnovers.
- This is the game I expected from John Salmons more often than not. Okay shooting numbers (5-12 FG 1-3 3FG) and terrific free-throw numbers (9-10 FT). Salmons attacking led to those crucial free-throws in the fourth quarter and his constant jab stepping made for many other entertaining moments in the rest of the game. Kudos John.
- And last, but certainly not least was the motivated Ilyasova having his best game in a few. Widely rumored to be the apple of Indiana’s eye in a Troy Murphy deal, the Bucks power forward dropped in 17 points (7-9 FG) and played his usual pesky style, despite often being matched up with the behemoth Roy Hibbert. Ilyasova’s jumper was looking as silky as ever and his focus was unquestionably there.
The Bucks went with Bogut on Murphy more often than not as the Pacers went small most of the game. This worked as well as the Pacers could have imagined, as Bogut had to sprint out at Murphy on the perimeter a number of times and Murphy finished 4-7 on threes. The downside for the Pacers was that Murphy was only able to grab three rebounds and the Bucks controlled the glass 44-36.
- I was worried about Danny Granger going off, but he seemed less insistent on shooting than I would have figured. When he was going to the hoop or making plays it was clear he was better than all of his teammates, it just seemed like he wasn’t forcing the issue very often. If he eventually gets more help that trait will serve him well in the future. Granger had 21, but wasn’t overwhelming (7-15 FG 7-8 FT).
Another game another win, making five in a row total and five in a row on the road for the Bucks. This one wasn’t as pretty as the few that preceded it, but when it’s all said and done, style points aren’t awarded to NBA teams. It would have been a classic Buck maneuver to overlook the Pacers in anticipation for a big game with the Heat coming up on Saturday, but there was juuuust enough focus in the fourth to finish them out.
With a day off before Saturday’s oddly timed 2:30 game, the Bucks have a chance to rest up before they try and put a little breathing room between themselves and Miami.