Fall behind early, battle back admirably, close the lead to an obtainable amount in the fourth quarter and then turn the ball over and stall offensively at key moments, preventing a seemingly waiting to be had game.
Happened again against Orlando, as it has so many times this season. Milwaukee dropped a tough to watch professional version of Monday night’s not-so-classic UConn-Butler battle for the national title, 78-72.
Tuesday was the lowest of lows for the Bucks starting five. Coach Scott Skiles took the drastic measure of inserting an entirely new five man group after Milwaukee’s first unit failed to score for the first 6:39 of the game. Facing a 14-0 deficit, Milwaukee didn’t have just have a hole to dig itself out of, the Bucks were more like the child trapped at the bottom of the well. And, as they so often do, the Bucks worked hard at getting out of that predicament.
From the moment the Bucks starters made their mass exit until just 2:01 remained in the game, Milwaukee out-scored Orlando 58-44. Consecutive rather wacky baskets from Drew Gooden (is there anyone else on the Bucks whose shots are ever described as wacky?) left the Bucks even with Orlando, 72-72. But the Bucks would out-cold their opponent once again, missing their final four shots, while mixing in a costly and completely avoidable turnover. The Magic capitalized on the Bucks misfortune and put to bed a game they really had no business winning.
Fortunately for Orlando, Milwaukee had even less business winning it.
It looks like Gooden is going to use this stretch run to try and make a believer of us all. He took a step towards doing just that tonight. Gooden made seven of 12 shots and scored 17 points, but what was truly impressive, was HOW he scored. Gooden made just two of six from 16-23 feet on a night in which he must not have been feeling his jumper, but he headed on inside and made five of five shots from inside the paint. That’s a great sign for a guy who often relies too heavily on his jumper, falling or not. The more he does that, the more he’ll avoid those six for 16 nights he had against the Sixers and the happier everyone will be.
- Aside from Gooden, the rest of the Bucks bench played fairly well in a loss. Bucks reserves combined for 44 of Milwaukee’s 72 points, making 16 of 30 shots. Keyon Dooling played well, scoring 10 points on three of four shooting, including a two of three effort from deep.
- And that’s about it for positive offensive play. Milwaukee’s starters turned in what may have been their worst game of the season. As often is the case when the Bucks offense goes bad, John Salmons was ineffective, making just three of nine shots while scoring nine points. But he was hardly one to single out, as Brandon Jennings bricked his way to a three for 15 effort, including a one of seven outing from three. Jennings was also largely to blame on a late turnover that allowed the Magic to push their two point lead up to four with :47 to play. In trying to save time, Jennings didn’t realize Jameer Nelson was creeping in for a steal as Jennings allowed a pass from Andrew Bogut to bounce up the court. That lack of awareness cost the Bucks dearly.
- We’ve reached a point with the Bucks where it seems like it doesn’t even warrant mentioning that the team shot 36%, because it’s just so common. Amazing. This is the anti-2006-07 team for sure.
Oh defense, I pity thee. You get so much attention, but you’re never rewarded with a victory. Orlando made just 38.8% of their shots and missed their final 18 threes. Milwaukee keys in on the Magic’s three-point shooting every time they play and this was as satisfying an effort as they’ve had against Orlando’s shooters yet. But again, Milwaukee’s offense cannot reward their defense with an effort nearly as strong. So the Bucks go home unhappy, despite playing a respectable game against Dwight Howard (18 points and 17 rebounds on five of 10 shooting) and shutting them down from deep (two of 21 on threes). It’s so common that it isn’t frustrating, but it’s certainly curious.
- A combination of pace and good defense has helped Milwaukee hold 11 consecutive opponents under 100 points. Unfortunately for the Bucks, they’ve gone just 5-6 over that stretch.
One more Pacer win or Bucks loss and that’s all she wrote.
I just wonder why she had to be so cruel with her writing.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. Become a fan on Facebook (right sidebar).