Defense Not Necessary: Bucks 114 – Knicks 107
New York’s basketball team isn’t typically apart of my basketball viewing schedule. They aren’t on national television very often and when they are I tend to look the other way. I’m not big on teams that have gutted their roster in order to pursue free agents. While I generally liked Mike D’Antoni’s Suns teams, I know the Knicks can’t be as efficient, mainly because they have few shooters and even less competent point guards. Plus they play even less defense than those Suns teams did. There’s a word that I can’t think of right now that would describe them aptly I assumed, but I had little proof since I never watched them. But I had high hopes for the Bucks on Friday night coming into their game on Broadway.
Then Andrew Bogut got hurt. So I went from hopeful that the Bucks would be able to leave the Big Apple with a win, to downtrodden that Bogut’s injury might be more than a migraine. My thought process went something like this:
Migraine? What? He’s never had migraines before. Didn’t he just take a charge a minute or two ago? Is this another back injury? Will we see Bogut again this season? Is his career in jeopardy?
So that may have been an overreaction. Call me a little snake bit after years of injury problems that seem to never end and spread across the roster. Bogut walked out fine, no limp, no slouch, no teammates dragging his body to the locker room, so I’ll operate going forward under the assumption that all is well. As for Friday night’s game, I thought of the word I was looking for and it isn’t even very fancy. Simply put, the Knicks are defenseless.
There was lots and lots of offense in this one, specifically from Brandon Jennings, though little of it came early in the game. A 1-9 start probably was predictable given the circumstances coming into this game – the often inaccurate Jennings’ first trip to the big city of New York, a team that passed on him quite famously now. What was unpredictable though, and delightful actually, was the way Jennings would rebound after the poor start. With Bogut out, Jennings took a very active role in the offense and finished the game hitting seven of his next 14 shots. 8-23 won’t change a lot of the opinions on Jennings’ abilities offensively, but those wins the Bucks keep getting might. Jennings finished the game with 22 points and eight assists against just two turnovers. That’ll do.
- There would have been lots of “Turkish Thunder” chants out of Squad Six had this game happened at the Bradley Center, because Ersan Ilyasova subbed in wonderfully for Andrew Bogut. 25 points and nine rebounds on a very shiny 10-18 shooting line. Ersa Major hit two of his three three-point attempts and even made a free-throw near the end of the game! He was his typical pesky self, tipping balls and drawing charges in other facets of the game, the biggest difference was that he was just making his open shots. It’s just that simple.
- Hakim Warrick: Dunks.
- The ever-giving New York defense allowed the Bucks to shoot 47.8 percent and 41.7 percent on three’s. Charlie Bell was 3-4, Carlos Delfino was 2-6 and Jennings was 2-7. Delfino’s line was particularly dazzling, as he tossed in nine rebounds, six assists and three steals on top of his 13 points. Team efforts win games for the Bucks, especially with Bogut out.
I’m not going to lie; I can’t see David Lee as an all-star. 32 points and 15 rebounds look terrific, but every Buck and their mom was getting baskets inside. The Bucks shot 62.9 percent at the rim Friday which was considerably better than the 45 percent they shot on Tuesday in Orlando. A lot of Orlando’s success had to do with the all-star they had playing defense inside. A lot of New York’s struggles are their system and generally lack of effort on defense, but some of it is David Lee being a non-factor taking charges or blocking shots. Granted, he’s probably a power forward playing center, so I shouldn’t toss all the blame on him, but he’s got to do a little more on defense if he ever wants to get to the next level.
- Without Bogut, the Bucks weren’t able to force as many turnovers as they’d like, but this game was more about who could score more efficiently anyway. The key to the Bucks defense Friday was doing their best to sloppy up the Knicks already helter-skelter attack and run out at shooters. They held the Knicks to a worse shooting percentage then they shot themselves and that’s a great way to beat the Knicks.
A winning road trip for the Milwaukee Bucks, what a novel concept. Yes, the road trip was three games and one was in Miami and another in New York, but road wins are road wins. The Bucks may not have that signature road win Scott Skiles has been looking for, but, sitting just a game back of Miami for the eighth seed with the tiebreaker in hand the Bucks can feel pretty good coming home today. With Indiana awaiting them at the Bradley Center on Brandon Jennings bobblehead night, the easily scheduled month of February still looks promising for the Bucks.