Remember those old electric football games where the pieces moved about aimlessly as you hoped (At least I assumed you were hoping. I’m too young to have ever had the pleasure) your team ended up somehow scoring some points?
That was the Bucks offense in quarter one Tuesday. The Bucks moved aimlessly about, throwing the ball in the general area of the hoop and prayed it went in. A few times it worked, most of the time it did not. Andrew Bogut, also known as the Bucks best offensive player, not only hit the side of the backboard with a shot, but airballed a one-handed attempt from the elbow. He finished quarter one 0-7, which was just a touch worse than point guard Brandon Jennings’ 1-6 effort.
After his treacherous 0-8 start Bogut went on to hit six of his next seven. Jennings followed his poor first quarter by hitting four of his next eight, which we’ll take with both hands open as Bucks fans at this point. Suddenly, what started as an 11-point deficit after one quarter became a Bucks lead six minutes and 17 seconds into the third quarter. From there it was anyone’s game. Unfortunately, the Pistons apparently temporarily changed their name to “Anyone” and the Bucks went from eclectic electric football to Madden 2010 to a complete loss of electricity in the fourth quarter.
The Bucks turned it over five times and played nearly as poor in the fourth quarter as they did in the first in losing 93-81 to Detroit. This game didn’t look much prettier than the Bucks win Saturday against the Pacers, which coincidentally finished with the same score, only in favor of the Bucks. Very little was in the Bucks favor Tuesday though, and that’s evidenced heavily in Jennings final 5-16 shooting line. Of course, that’s not too hard to believe given his shooting woes in the past few months.
When Detroit first came to the Bucks humble abode, Jennings introduced himself to Milwaukee, the Pistons and the league in a big way. Jennings took over the third quarter scoring 16 points, winning the hearts and minds of Milwaukeeans in the process. Tuesday, Jennings made numerous attempts at claiming ownership of the third, but was unsuccessful in each try. Jennings pulled up for a three with the crowd beginning to buzz and his team down just three: no dice. He pulled another after two makes sandwiched around free-throws: another miss. Notice he was still able to hit a few shots, but the feel of the whole thing was different.
In November the building was on the edge of rocking and Jennings gave them the necessary push, but Tuesday he didn’t pack the oomph to get everyone over the edge. Perhaps he’ll regain that, it’s certainly too early to write him off as incapable of pulling anything off, but right now he’s lost that mojo.
If I said I wasn’t nervous after watching Bogut struggle to start the fourth quarter and come out just minutes into the final period I’d be lying. It looked like it may be up to Jennings or the Bucks plucky cast of role players to pitch in offensively. Neither happened and the Bucks faltered.
- Bucks shooting percentages in the first-fourth quarters: 16, 52.4, 44.4 and 38.9. Can you guess which quarters the Bucks ended up winning? Sometimes it’s as simple as making shots and the Bucks couldn’t do that Tuesday.
- I know you aren’t questioning Bogut’s importance to the Bucks, but just in case you were the Bucks just shot 36.6 percent total in a game in which he shot 8-21. Yes, Bogut finished with 17 points and 18 rebounds, but many of those boards came off his own misses, I assure you his evening wasn’t as pretty as the box score looks. But as he goes, so go the Bucks.
- The Bucks 20-45 showing in the paint looks ugly as I write it and was even more difficult to look at as it was happening. Milwaukee isn’t going to shoot that poorly in the paint too often, but I can’t say the Pistons had nothing to do with it. Jason Maxiell and Ben Wallace were pushing around the Milwaukee bigs and forcing them away from the hoop.
Big guards hurt the Bucks. Don’t believe me? Rodney Stuckey finished with 18 points and seven assists on 9-19 shooting in a rare dominating effort for him. Stuckey over powered Jennings so many times, I thought he had contacted the Bradley Center Board and rented out the Bucks paint for the evening. Surprisingly Stuckey didn’t shoot a free-throw all night, which probably contributed to the Pistons slow pulling away.
- The Bucks 21 offensive rebounds can be somewhat be written off as a product of their bad shooting, but how do we explain the 17 Detroit grabbed? Ah, Maxiell again, yes. Maxiell’s relentless effort and musclely, massive body banged the Hakim Warrick’s of the world out of the way as he grabbed six offensive boards by his lonesome.
Where do the Bucks go from here? I’ll let the team’s wise man Jerry Stackhouse take it away:
Man, that one’s over. When that clock hits zeroes, it’s over. You going to have bad games like that sometimes. We been playin’ well, you just got to remember that. Good thing for us is 24 hours and we back at it. The really good teams always respond after a loss and this team is starting to really learn about itself. If we can take something from how we been playing over the last few weeks and tell ourselves we’re a good team and we’re supposed to come out tomorrow and, taking nothing away from New Jersey, go in and take care of our business.