Larry Sanders Charitable with his Inbounds Passes: Timberwolves 85 – Bucks 84
It’s preseason, so take the Bucks collapse in the last minute with a grain of salt.
Darington Hobson, Larry Sanders, Drew Gooden, Jon Leuer and Beno Udrih were on the court for that final stretch. That’s a far cry from what the Bucks actual crunch time lineup will be. The only thing that anyone can really take from that last minute is that Sanders may continue to be in coach Scott Skiles’ doghouse, after the bouncy but occasionally brainless forward tossed away an inbounds pass and ultimately the lead in the final seconds.
For all the talk of Bucks bringing in playmakers in Mike Dunleavy, Beno Udrih and Stephen Jackson, Brandon Jennings is still the best distributor the team has (he finished with nine assists for the game). The trade-off for Jennings distribution is that he’s going to take poor shots for himself. Jennings is a much worse shooter off the dribble than he is in catch-and-shoot situations (he went 4-13 for the game, his makes were two lay-ups, a dunk and a catch-and-shoot. His misses were a whole lot of him dribbling).
At Media Day, Jennings said he could be both a scorer and a creator for the team, but his talents require that he take a far different approach for each role: playing with the ball as a distributor and playing without the ball as a scorer. So what’s Jennings choice? Trying to have his cake and eat it too hurts him as a player and leaves the team without an identity.
Dunleavy’s off-ball movement is infectious. Also infectious: Stephen Jackson taking heat checks (hit his first two threes and then nothing for the rest of the night).
“I’m not going to grade him [Jackson] too harshly with anything that happened. I was just glad to see him out there,” said Scott Skiles.
Great point, coach. With his back problems, Jackson isn’t going to be attacking the rim a lot, so expect a lot of threes in the immediate future and not too much penetration. Doesn’t matter though, Jackson looks rather dapper with the red armbands, so that more than makes up for anything he does on the court.
But back to Dunleavy. He’s been the standout of the preseason. My friend texted me mid-game to say Dunleavy was the best passer on the team. Pushing aside the fact that that’s false, but the eye-test certainly indicates that the Bucks offense hums a bit more when Dunleavy is on the court. Chalk that up to his floor spacing and movement, but also his relationship with Jennings, “He [Jennings] has a nice little rapport with Mike Dunleavy already,” Skiles commented.
The big adjustment for the game was starting Luc Mbah a Moute at the power forward in place of Drew Gooden. It was a much needed adjustment for the Bucks who needed to contain Kevin Love who had 21 points and went 4-7 from three in the last Saturday. For the first quarter, Moute held love to two points on 1-4 shooting and didn’t foul Love once. Without Moute playing at all in the second quarter, Love scored five points with four free throw attempts. That’s the reason they resigned him, folks. The great thing about Moute is that he takes so much pride in his defense. He gets visibly upset when his man scores even when he’s done everything he possibly could.
On the offensive end, Moute had 14 points on 6-11 shooting. The Wolves were leaving him open in the corner and he was hitting it. “Those 14 – 17 foot baseline shots in particular are really his shot and the ball comes around the perimeter and when his form and technique are correct, it’s usually right there for him,” said Skiles. It looked correct tonight, but what he was struggling with was finishing at the rim. Moute is normally a good finisher at the rim, but his lack of strength always forces him to double pump or shoot awkwardly in the paint.
Preseason was fun, but the arduous march toward the playoffs starts next Monday at Charlotte.
Ian Segovia is a contributor to Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter, fan us up on Facebook.