Another good team tops the Bucks: Grizzlies 99 – Bucks 95
|Ersan Ilyasova, PF 43 MIN | 5-11 FG | 8-12 FT | 16 REB | 3 AST | 20 PTS | +9
I did not envy Ersan Ilyasova during this game. He was guarding either Marc Gasol or Zach Randolph for the majority of the evening, guys that are much larger and stronger than him in the post. He split his time absorbing punishment and drawing charges as a defender, but found a way to contribute on offense anyway. Also he was the only Bucks player with more than five rebounds. IT’S ON YOU ERS must have been the whiteboard message pre-game.
|Drew Gooden, PF 38 MIN | 9-16 FG | 2-3 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 20 PTS | +2
There was a lot of talk from coach Skiles about Gooden before the game. Apparently he’s quite the hot topic amongst Milwaukee media. I’ll sum it up for you: Milwaukee knows they are losing something without a true center, but they expect to make up some of that with Gooden’s offense forcing other centers to come out and defend him. He’s being asked to do a lot and he’s answered the call.
Against the Grizzlies things fell in line with what Coach Skiles said before the game. He had his hands full on defense, but he got Gasol to step away from the hoop and was fairly productive on offense. Still, the Bucks could really have used another center option this season. Gooden’s five rebounds at the end of this game helped make that abundantly clear yet again.
|Monta Ellis, SG 35 MIN | 2-12 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 8 PTS | +7
I know he’s getting adjusted and that he’s got to find himself and figure out how he can best interact with new teammates and all that stuff. I know. But the Bucks didn’t trade for Monta Ellis to not score 20 points. Everyone saw this as a home run for the Bucks because they gave up two inactive players for a guy who would step in and get them points. We’re 10 games into this thing and Ellis still isn’t doing his thing the way he did it in Golden State. He’s missing difficult shots. The shots he gets within 10 feet may be shots he can make, but he isn’t going to magically start making difficult shots at a 40% clip.
The plus with Ellis is that he’s done well to hand out assists despite shooting about 40%. For those of you who were so ecstatic about his acquisition, I ask, is that what you were hoping for? Probably not. Fortunately, he still has time to turn it around. But it’s running out.
|Brandon Jennings, PG 38 MIN | 9-19 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 24 PTS | +14
Jennings came out firing. Seven shots in his first stint, a few of them that had me wondering what has this guy shooting these shots tonight? Was he still feeling himself from yesterday? Was he approaching a matchup with Jeremy Pargo the way a lion approaches a gazelle? Whatever the case, he came out firing. He got more accurate as the night went on fortunately after making just two of his first seven.
He and Ellis still haven’t really seemed to find a rhythm together. We’re not exactly seeing that dynamic guard play we were promised when they share the court. Just same old Jennings with a fairly average Ellis.
|Mike Dunleavy, SF 24 MIN | 4-9 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS | -15
Dunleavy was basically all of the Bucks bench scoring. He had 10, the rest of the bench chipped in six. He wasn’t the superhero he’d been lately though. Milwaukee needed Super Dunleavy if they wanted to win this one. It almost seems like he was a little too deferential or that the team needed to do more to get him looks from outside. Given the way he’s shot lately, two 3-point attempts hardly seems like enough. Dunleavy spoke after the game about the lack of ball movement and a failure to make the right reads. Against better teams that kind of thing comes back to haunt you was his overall message.
Four Things We Saw
- With Carlos Delfino out, the Bucks got little from their typically strong bench. Mbah a Moute moved into a starting role and everyone else was just kind of bleh. That’s a problem they’ve run into against strong teams with talent coming off the bench. And the Grizzlies aren’t even that deep. But O.J. Mayo, Zach Randolph (why he’s coming off the bench I don’t know) and Quincy Pondexter (seriously) did work on the Bucks.
- Before the game Coach Skiles also spoke about the importance of defensive rebounds. Milwaukee had to get better on that end to close out opponents, he said. Against the Grizzlies, they did not get better. Memphis out-rebounded Milwaukee 58-39 and grabbed 18 offensive boards. Memphis’s size and strength was too much for Milwaukee to overcome. Rudy Gay, Mo Speights and Gasol all ended up with double digit rebound totals and Randolph had five on offense alone.
- Presented without comment: Milwaukee is now 9-22 against teams with a record better than .500.
- The Knicks won. Milwaukee is now 2.5 games behind them for the final playoff spot in the East.