Flowing then slowing: Bucks 102 – Blazers 95

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)

It looked for a moment, a number of moments actually, like the Milwaukee Bucks would cruise to their first substantial win since a drubbing of the Detroit Pistons on January 29. A 27 point halftime lead like the Bucks had over the Portland Trail Blazers Tuesday night will usually give fans and players that feeling.

Perhaps it let the Bucks get a little too comfortable.

From the outset of the second  half, Portland played more physical and determined than the Bucks. It resulted in a 20 point second half advantage.

Good thing that halftime lead was 27.

Outside of one quarter, Milwaukee didn’t do much to restore its defensive reputation. After the game, Jim Boylan talked about some of their issues, specifically about how well they contested shots in Portland’s eight point second quarter and how poorly they did that the rest of the game:

“A big key to having a successful defense is to contest shots,” Boylan said after the game. “That’s been what we’ve been preaching over the last couple of days, to try to get that number back up. We chart it every game, we like to be above 75 percent. Recently we’ve been down in the sixties and, on occasion, even in the fifties.”

Boylan went on to talk about the difficulties of keeping motivated up 27 points and how it may have affected the Bucks in the second half, where the Blazers put up a 38 point fourth quarter. He said it was on him to make sure the guys were prepared, but I think that’s just a coach taking the fall for his guys. If players can’t be motivated enough to even CONTEST threes, that’s a pretty big problem. It says that defense isn’t really a priority for them.

Portland Trail Blazers 95 Final
Recap | Box Score
102 Milwaukee Bucks
Samuel Dalembert, C 20 MIN | 8-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 16 PTS | +2

His soft touch was working well early, as he scored 10 points in the first quarter, mostly off jumpers. But after nine first quarter minutes, Dalembert played just 11 the rest of the game. Jim Boylan noted after the same that he did look to get his backup, and occasionally starting, center some rest with another game against the Hawks Wednesday.

Larry Sanders, C 40 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 13 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -5

LaMarcus Aldrdige is a handful and Larry struggled with him in the pick and roll game. Bucks guards have got to get better at fighting through screens so forwards or centers can’t get quite as much free space when Sanders has to step up against ball-handlers in pick and rolls. He had some success shooting short, open jumpers in those scenarios and was able to roll to the hoop for some easy pick and roll looks that Larry had little help on.

Monta Ellis, PG 44 MIN | 8-18 FG | 3-6 FT | 9 REB | 8 AST | 3 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 21 PTS | +7

Before an injury to his left hand stifled him, Monta was putting together another fine offensive fourth quarter. He hit both threes he attempted and a two point jumper to go along with the pair. Of course, he had nothing for Wesley Matthews, so that was a problem.

Brandon Jennings, PG 39 MIN | 9-20 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 6 TO | 24 PTS | -3

Once Ellis hurt his hand, Jennings took the scoring load, dropping in seven fourth quarter points for Milwaukee. He did have two turnovers within the final two minutes that could have been very costly though. But he defended Damian Lillard very well all game, applying plenty of pressure all the way down the court.

Gustavo Ayon, PF 6 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +12

When Ayon plays, he doesn’t do much wrong. He’s a fantastic passer for a big man. He demonstrated his passing prowess when Monta drove to the hoop and laid it off to him. Instead of tossing up what would have been a moderately difficult short shot, he immediately kicked out to a wide open JJ Redick for three. Really fun to watch.

J.J. Redick, SG 26 MIN | 4-8 FG | 4-5 FT | 0 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 14 PTS | +12

14 points on eight shots is everything the Bucks ask of Redick. He shot the ball well and gave them another threat on offense late. But it would be foolish to overlook the correlation between Milwaukee’s BRUTAL fourth quarter defense and the presence of Jennings/Ellis/Redick on the court for much of that time.

Three Things We Saw

  1. Portland made 13-of-26 threes, 10-of-17 in the second half, when Wes Matthews and Luke Babbit bombed away with no defender near them time after time.
  2. Milwaukee moved the ball well again. They’ve done this enough on offense lately that their willingness to share the ball isn’t even really a thought anymore. They have a very good rhythm on offense and it’s predicated on moving the ball and making shots. They have players who can do both and are doing both on most nights.
  3. Ellis injured the fleshy part of his left hand, between his thumb and index finger. X-rays were negative and they’ll look at it again today.

Categories: Recaps

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  1. My brother just turned me on to your blog. This is exactly what a good fan wants. Nice work.

  2. Got to hand it to this team, they keep everyone in their seats until the bitter end. Never too late to blow a good game and never too late to save a $hitty game!

    Was fun watching them play well. Hope we can get enough of that going tonight against Atlanta. Getting nice help from out bench, but I will feel more confident when Ersan, Ellis and LRMBM are all playing.

    Go Bucks! Go Marquette! Bucky says Go Red!

  3. ellis needs to stay aggresive the whole game for the team to be successful good things happen when he attacks the basket

  4. happyfeethustle

    A fun game to watch….almost a disaster too. Bucks allow a big 2nd half to cut lead from 27 down to 7. That was as close as it got in 4th-toooooooo close. Pleased that Bucks were able to pull this one out. anothern 3 mins. on game clock-the Bucks probably lose :(

    Challenge tonite…improvre chances for better seed against Atlanta. Hope to see a STRONG effort from Bucks

    GO Bucks GO !!!!!!!!

  5. Last year I was the only Larry Sanders fan on the planet. No doubt in my mind he and I were on an island. When the Bucks acquired Redick, I was barking about how the Bucks got a hell of a player in Goose Ayon. It feels really good to have these guys back up what I’ve been saying all along.

    I’m not real familiar with Ish Smith, however I feel like the Bucks are in good hands if one of these guards goes down. I look at him as a poor man’s Patrick Beverly.

    I didn’t comment intending to review the trade. However looking at this team after the smoke cleared, I like what I see. The same could be said about the Bogut/Ellis trade.

  6. @Patti#2 lol quit being such a groupie. chances are you weren’t the only larry sanders fan on the planet last year and let’s not get carried away w/ Gus. He’s doing some nice things but he’s still the low man in our bigs rotation as far as im concerned maybe trumping henson alone b/c of his body.

    • I’m sorry, did you support Larry last year? Did you defend him in the forums? That’s what I thought. Would you REALLY rather see Udoh than Ayon?? Idiot.

      • Larry is real good. I don’t remember him last year, except that folk were saying our bigs were a problem. He likes to dribble, might have a few moves. He competes, so it means something to him. He’s his own man, so I don’t think he is inconsistent. He is so good that the four guards could play with him against Atlanta, and Dunleavy didn’t look weak (he always could rebound late in games).

        Udoh. I’m past feeling for him. That I feel bad about. He’s tall and in the wrong profession. Unfortunately for him, he thinks this too.

        Wow, Patti is optimistic. I wonder if you think Teague is better than Jennings. Does that change the complexion of the team? You are wanting to do more with Ellis and Reddick?

        • Udoh was a lottery pick when he was drafted. It was the John Wall draft, which isn’t saying much, but still, you don’t get drafted in the lottery if you’re in the wrong profession.

          Also, you spelled Redick wrong – one ‘d’, not red-dick.