Lou Williams clutch shot didn’t bother me. The mere fact that he was in position to take and make the shot? Now that was a problem.
In the last minute of a close game in the NBA, virtually anything can happen. Just a week ago we saw Earl Boykins dribble around for an entire possession before knifing into the lane to drop in a layup over a 7-foot-3 Zyndrunas Ilgauskas. In those final ticks, that’s just the sort of thing that happens. So Williams draining a three with 45 seconds to go didn’t shock me.
That’s why teams that win a lot of games don’t allow games to be decided in the final minute. Teams that are really good, that want to be higher seeds in the playoffs, that will win the vast majority of their games, they win this game by five or 10 points. Milwaukee had their chances to do so and they failed miserably.
On three separate occasions in the fourth quarter, Milwaukee had the possession of both the ball and the lead. And on all three occasions the Bucks blew an opportunity to extend their lead. The worst scenario was the final. Milwaukee led 94-92 with 1:45 to play. 22 seconds of horrific offense later, Boykins launched an errant three. Fortunately Milwaukee was able to corral the offensive rebound. Hope was not lost.
Until Drew Gooden was forced to chuck a 3-pointer with 57 second remaining. He missed. Because he’s Drew Gooden and he isn’t supposed to be shooting threes in the final minute of a winnable NBA game. Lou Williams would not miss, just like the rest of the Sixers Friday night.
And the Bucks are now nine games under .500, the worst they’ve been since 2004-05 (H/T Brewhoop).
- The Bucks shot better than 45% for just the 13th time this season and fell to 10-3 when doing so.
- Last month, Andrew Bogut put together a four game stretch in which he averaged 19.8 points and 13 rebounds on 64% shooting. After a four for 10 effort against the Sixers, Bogut is now shooting 41.8% in the month of January while averaging 11.2 points and 12.7 rebounds. What does this say? Obviously, Bogut’s a consistent rebounder, regardless of how he is performing on the offensive end. To a degree, this is commendable. But expectations are far higher for Milwaukee’s franchise player. Unfortunately, it also says Bogut remains as unreliable an offensive centerpiece as there is in the NBA. When a player who is supposed to be the second best center in the East faces Spencer Hawes, it’s safe to say 10 points on four of 10 shooting just isn’t going to cut it.
- Of Milwaukee’s 22 fourth quarter points, Corey Maggette and Drew Gooden scored 16. When things have begun to look their worst in games this season, often the last place Milwaukee’s been able to look for rescue has been to Maggette and Gooden, so it was refreshing to see them as apart of the solution and not the problem against the Sixers. Gooden was hitting jumpshots, something he hasn’t done very well this season and Maggette was doing a little bit of everything. It was a rare treat to see Maggette attempt to score without relying on bulldozing defenders and trying to draw fouls. Unfortunately, on the Bucks final offensive play, Maggette resorted to his old tricks again, only to find Andre Iguodala too capable a defender to foul or give up a layup to him. Respectively, Maggette and Gooden finished with 16 and 12 points in their finest dual game of the year.
In the games in which the Bucks have shot better than 45% this season their opponents have shot 45.7%. If Milwaukee was able to hold the Nets to something around 45% shooting, we’d be discussing a blowout win for the Bucks and a team that seemed to be getting back on the right track. But the Bucks defense ripped away the feeble title from the typically punchless offense and allowed a sizzling 57.1% shooting night from the Sixers. Milwaukee need look no further than the first half when trying to figure out how they blew this game. The Sixers made 20 of 32 shots in the first half and led by as much as 15 points.
- Milwaukee’s poor defensive play may have earned someone a spot on the bench. After the game, Scott Skiles told Charles F. Gardner that a lineup change to fix the Bucks recent problems out of the gate may be forthcoming. “We’ve got to think about doing something with our lineup,” Skiles said. “We’ve been patient long enough. We’ve got to do something to mix it up and get off to a better start.
Nine games under .500. Losing records both at home and on the road. 9-17 against teams better than .500, 5-5 against teams that are worse than .500. Maybe Milwaukee’s heading for better days, but that’s far from certain. All that is certain is what has happened and very little that has happened for this Bucks team this season has been good.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Then become a fan on Facebook (in the sidebar).