The body count keeps rising in Milwaukee and the Bucks significant depth is getting an early test. Of course, it’s still pre-season, so if the injuries are going to come, let’s go ahead and get them all out of the way now.
Milwaukee was able to beat the Bobcats Saturday night, 86-78, despite playing without Jon Brockman who joined the list of the walking wounded with an ankle sprain in Friday night’s loss at Detroit. Since things are going as they are right now, Larry Sanders sprained an ankle himself in Saturday’s game, playing only nine minutes before leaving the game for good and Brandon Jennings suffered a scare himself, coming down funny on his ankle in the third quarter.
I’d expect all of the Bucks players to find a way to be ready when things get started for real in a few weeks, but this has certainly been a health challenged squad thus far. Six different Bucks players have missed games or parts of games due to injuries … THROUGH THREE PRE-SEASON GAMES.
All health problems aside, it’s nice to see Milwaukee back in the win column and some key players playing well again.
- Despite his ankle issue, Jennings had another strong game offensively.
He finished 6-12 from the field, scored 18 points, grabbed six rebounds, dished two assists and nabbed three steals in just 23 minutes. Jennings had a run of 13 straight points in the first quarter that I can only imagine resembled what we saw on occasion from him last year. Maybe. With D.J. Augustin and Shawn Livingston manning the one for the Bobcats, Charlotte is not home to the finest point guard crop in the game, but this is now two fairly productive nights in a row for Jennings. I’m not declaring him on the verge of an all-star season or anything, but after a very difficult first night, it’s good to see Jennings putting minds at ease. Now I just want to see him with all of the Bucks talent around him at his passing disposal.
- Ersan Ilyasova is one of the few healthy big men left for the Bucks and he’s making his case for playing time.
Ilyasova played a whopping 39 minutes on Saturday and responded in a big way in the third quarter. Ersan scored 11 of his 15 points in the third on 4-6 shooting (1-2 on three-pointers, 2-2 on free throws). Eight rebounds in 39 minutes is very un-Ilyasova like, but the one assist is reminiscent of the Ersan of old. Given the lack of healthy bodies around him though, who can blame the Bucks Turkish talent for looking for his own shot. Milwaukee needed the scoring out of him in this one.
- Another candidate for power forward playing time, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, did not have as good of a night.
Mbah a Moute fouled out in just 17 minutes and failed to connect on any of his three shots, two of which were of the three-point variety. The problem that box scores present for Mbah a Moute is no valid way to measure what he does defensively, so this type of recap doesn’t really do him justice. Maybe the six fouls are a sign that he wasn’t his usual self defensively, but maybe he just had a bad night all around. Mbah a Moute is often going to be questioned for what he does on the offensive end, but if he were a terrific offensive player with high point totals who played no defense, would people question him the same? This is a point that very good basketball writer Tom Haberstroh has been making about Dwight Howard recently and one that holds true on a smaller degree with Mbah a Moute. He’s no Dwight defensively and is even worse offensively, but he’s still a different kind of talent than most. It’s something to think about for sure.
- The backup point guard issue, which seemed to be quite an issue for some time this summer, probably won’t be an issue.
Thanks to a strong pre-season from both Keyon Dooling and Earl Boykins, we can all rest easy in knowing that the Bucks won’t miss Luke Ridnour too much. While it would have been a luxury to keep someone who had such a strong season with the team last year and so furiously worked to make himself better (Ridnour often went back on the court after games to shoot around), the financial move was to go cheap for a backup point guard. Dooling and Boykins have both been knocking down shots and running things smoothly enough that if they were white and scrappy, no one would even know the difference. The duo combined for 23 points on 7-14 shooting (4-7 from three and 5-5 from the stripe (double parenthesis: that was all Boykins from the line, amazingly enough)), with seven assists against just three turnovers.
If you were at Saturday night’s game, leave some comments and fill us in on what you thought was of particular interest, who played well, who didn’t and what you generally thought about both teams.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter