Shooters gonna shoot, Naters gonna Nate: Bucks 109 – Cavs 104
|John Henson, PF 39 MIN | 7-9 FG | 0-2 FT | 9 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | +3
So many left hooks. He’s long enough that it’s very difficult for opponents to defend and somehow they keep letting him get to it. Surely the book is out, so I’m not sure how he’s able ever game to turn to his right shoulder and loft up hook after hook. Of his seven makes, I’d venture a guess that five, at least, were hooks with his left hand.
|Caron Butler, SF 30 MIN | 4-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 10 PTS | -10
He didn’t have a huge night, but his tip in with 24 seconds left gave Milwaukee a one point lead that they never relinquished. He came soaring in for a tip after O.J. Mayo missed a short jumper. It was a big play from a guy people expect to function as the heart of the team.
|Zaza Pachulia, C 41 MIN | 2-4 FG | 10-10 FT | 9 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 14 PTS | -5
Larry Drew began to chuckle and talk about framing this particular box score after the game. He couldn’t remember Pachulia ever having played 40 minutes before. But it was hard to take him off the court. He’s done so 20 times in his career (eight times in a two month stretch between February and March of 2012) but in none of those previous occasions has he had such a complete game. His work passing with Henson was especially notable. The 10 free throws make him 23-23 this season at the line.
|Nate Wolters, PG 33 MIN | 2-5 FG | 5-5 FT | 8 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +7
After the game, Drew addressed how well everyone had played in a game he was really proud of, one that he really seemed to stress felt like a team effort. He listed Mayo, Gary Neal, Henson and Pachulia, Ekpe Udoh, but it all built to a crescendo.
“…and the guy who I think really just did a phenomenal job was Nate Wolters.”
Drew was thrilled with his point guard who once again showed a very high level of poise and focus throughout the game. Wolters didn’t turn the ball over and has just four turnovers this season versus 26 assists through four games. He almost never takes a chance. That’s not to say he does nothing, because he looked for his shot when it was there, he just never forced anything at all.
And he was more than competent against a very difficult matchup in Kyrie Irving. Irving scored 10 points in the two minutes Wolters missed as the Bucks fell apart near the end, so his 28 points are deceiving. He didn’t crush Nate by any means.
|O.J. Mayo, SG 33 MIN | 9-19 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 28 PTS | -5
The Bucks offense was very balanced yet again … except for O.J. Mayo. The scoring guard got hot. He connected on the first six threes he attempted and mixed in a few attacks of the basket alongside them. It was a very complete scoring game for Mayo. Defensively, he had his ups and downs, but he did apply great pressure without fouling Irving as the Cavs All-Star attempted a game tying three in the last 15 seconds.
|Ekpe Udoh, PF 13 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +6
It was a good time for Ekpe to return with both Larry Sanders and Ersan Ilyasova out. Milwaukee was in need of minutes from big men as much as they were in need of big men to grab a few rebounds. Ekpe delivered some of both, somewhat surprisingly. Never much on the glass, he was boxing out and snatching rebounds right when he entered the game. He had a bit of rust that was evident in some catches and travels, but the Bucks were surely thrilled to have him back for this specific game.
|Gary Neal, SG 31 MIN | 8-15 FG | 3-3 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 23 PTS | +12
GETTING UP SHOTS. He does it well. Neal really isn’t much for getting the Bucks into an offense or creating anything at all for anyone that isn’t Gary Neal, but damn if he can’t get hot and put the ball in the hoop. He hit some very difficult threes, because that’s what he does.
His hand was forced without Brandon Knight, Luke Ridnour, Sanders or Ilyasova, so Drew went with a tighter rotation. Only eight players played and for the most part, all of them played well. With Milwaukee up 12 and just three minutes left, he said he thought it was the time to go with veterans to close the game out. He removed Wolters and brought in Gary Neal. The Bucks proceeded to watch Cleveland roll off 13 straight points. Drew admitted his error and brought Wolters back in. Always nice to see a coach avoid being too stubborn, especially in favor of a young guy.
Four Things We Saw
- Milwaukee was 50/50/90, which isn’t an easy thing to do. To be precise, the Bucks were 50/57/92. 13-23 from 3-point range might have been a little better what John Hammond had in mind this summer when he rebuilt the team around 3-point shooters, so he must have felt good watching shot after shot drop in.
- Andrew Bynum played 14 minutes for the Cavs. He looked so ginger on those knees of his I constantly thought he was about to come out of the game because he was injured. He runs like an 80-year-old cyclist who’s had both hips replaced. This doesn’t seem like it will end well.
- Milwaukee still didn’t push the tempo of the game very much but Coach Drew said that was a deliberate decision they’ve made for the time being. With so many guys out, they’re looking to control the pace and the game a bit more rather than get up and down for a lot of possessions.
- Drew was hopeful that Sanders, who actually does have a hurt thumb, would be back Saturday and that he would return to practice tomorrow. How the fallout from his nightclub incident will affect that remains to be seen.