In Orlando Wednesday night, Milwaukee made a run in the fourth quarter to make things look respectable, but trailed by double digits virtually the entire game. The culprit? A shooting percentage that hovered under 33% again for the majority of the evening.
It was the same story that’s played out so many times before for the Bucks this season. Shoot so horribly throughout the majority of the game, then try and furiously scramble back into the game once a few shots finally fall. The Bucks made exactly one third of their shots before the fourth quarter, and then shot 12 of 21 in the final period. They pulled within five at one point, but after Hedo Turkoglu answered with a three, they failed to get inside of eight points the rest of the way. They got close enough in the fourth that it seemed feasible and really made you damn their 15 of 32 outing from the free throw line.
But an offense like the Bucks holds them back so dearly.
If Milwaukee was just bad offensively, and by that I mean a steady 40% shooting team through the first three quarters, they would have kept the game close enough for their final run to possibly put them over the top. Milwaukee’s rarely just bad offensively though. They’re more frequently historically bad offensively.
Their outing dropped their offensive rating to 99.7 for the season. No team since the pre-Chris Paul New Orleans Hornets of 2004-05 has been so bad. Those Hornets are the ones that were held hostage by Baron Davis and suited up 22 different players that season while starting 19 different faces. Starters on that team include: Casey Jacobson, Lee Nailon, Jackson Vroman, Bostjan Nachbar and Junior Harrington. That’s the team the Bucks are playing like offensively.
The season before though, two teams finished with an offensive rating lower than 99.7. The Toronto Raptors and … Scott Skiles’ Chicago Bulls. Skiles was fired after 66 games, but the team continued to play horribly after his exit. That scenario likely won’t play out this season, as Milwaukee is still one of the league’s premier defensive squads and firing Skiles hardly seems like an offensive solution for this team, but it’s worth mentioning nonetheless. The last time a Skiles team performed this poorly offensively, he ended up out of a job.
At least Corey Maggette played well. Maggette was accurate with his shot (7-9 FG), successful on his drives (6-8 FT) and active on the glass (seven defensive rebounds). Unfortunately, as has often been the case this year, Maggette scored in double digits and the Bucks lost by more then 10. When Maggette scores in double figures this season, the Bucks are now 4-12 and have lost nine of those 12 by 10 or more. Obviously that’s not all on Maggette, but it’s interesting how that’s worked out. Early in this game it seemed like the statistic would play out again. Milwaukee was down big early and Maggette was getting minutes and being very aggressive in looking for his shot and getting to the rim. He’s largely responsible for the Bucks cutting Orlando’s lead late, but with little help, he couldn’t get Milwaukee over the hump alone.
- Not even a little of that help late came from Andrew Bogut, who fouled out with nine minutes remaining in the game. Bogut had nothing for Dwight Howard and his improved post game. Howard had Bogut grabbing and bumping all night, resulting in constant foul trouble for the Bucks big man. When Bogut had opportunities on the other end, they usually ended up with him on the free throw line, where he made just two of 10 shots. A rough night for the Bucks big.
- Milwaukee’s bench was what kept them in the game for most of the evening. They outscored Orlando’s reserved 57 -23.
Early on, when Orlando wasn’t catching lobs and dunking them, they were finding Howard in other ways. He scored 17 of his 28 points in the first half and made Milwaukee pay for not doubling him down low. The Bucks rarely double Howard, as it allows them to stay out on the Magic shooters. In that regard, they were very successful, as they limited Orlando to just five made 3-pointers in 22 attempts.
- When Howard wasn’t scoring, Orlando still looked like the envy of every Bucks fans eyes. Five players outside of Howard scored in double figures and all of them showed off specific, and more importantly, reliable, offensive skills. Whether it was Brandon Bass’ mid-range game or Turkoglu’s 3-point shot or Jason Richardson at the rim, the Magic were a diverse offensive group that Milwaukee had more trouble than usual handling.
With this loss Milwaukee fell to seven games under .500, their worst mark since the beginning of last season. With Miami coming to town Friday, the record likely won’t get better with their next game. Eventually the schedule will soften, but that won’t matter so much if shots don’t fall when it does. Milwaukee won’t win many games shooting under 40%, regardless of who they play.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Then become a fan on Facebook (in the sidebar).