Bulls 103 Bucks 99: Recap

The Bucks didn't get the calls or to free-throw line, Larry Krystkowiak got mad and kicked out, and the Bulls got even and a win. In the end, the Bulls topped the Bucks 103-99 in a wild game in Chicago on Friday night.

Three Bucks:

  1. Michael Redd. He responded after the disastrous Nuggets game with 34 points and six assists. Drawing two fouls on three-pointers down the stretch shows why he's the star.
  1. Mo Williams. Mo made up for an off shooting night with 15 assists and just one turnover.
  1. Andrew Bogut. He took a while to get into the flow of the game, but made numerous big plays in the second half.

Three Numbers:

  1. Bucks' field goal attempts, 15 more than the Bulls.
  1. Bucks' field goals made, nine more than the Bulls.
  1. Bulls' free-throws made, 22 more than the Bucks.

Three Good:

  1. With Simmons forced into the starting lineup after Mason’s injury, and Bell’s shot on the verge of being declared permanently gone rather than simply missing, offensive production off the bench is a valuable commodity in Milwaukee. So Villanueva’s 15 points on 7-11 shooting in 21 minutes was key. Unfortunately, he managed to foul out. Still, he showed again how efficient he can play on the offensive end. When he goes to the basket, good things happen because he’s great at contorting and adjusting as he slices through the line. He forced a fadeaway and an out-of-rhythm three, but other than that his shot selection was fine, which usually is a good starting point for judging how successful he is on a given night.
  1. The Bulls have had guard problems all year. Hinrich can still shoot from the line, but has struggled everywhere else. Gordon caught the bad shooting bug too, with new Bulls coach Jim Boylan inserting the slightly less shooting-challenged Duhon into the starting lineup tonight. And while the solid but out-of-form Chicago guards sputtered early, the tandem of Redd and Williams supercharged the Bucks. The backcourt duo combined for 19 points on 9/14 shooting along with seven assists in the first quarter, capped by an arcing, off-balance floater by Williams with three seconds to go. At halftime, Hinrich and Duhon were stuck on nine points combined, making a relatively minor impact, surely not how Boylan drew it up. And while it’s not the ideal, early post presence, thanks to Mo and Mike, the Bucks quickly asserted perimeter superiority. Importantly, they did this not only through scoring, but by virtue of some great passing in transition and the half court. Redd’s darting one-handed cross-court pass to Ivey for a three showed strong court vision and Williams’ ran the fast break with purpose, eventually accumulating a career-high 15 assists.
  1. For a short while, Bogut appeared to be losing the battle of former number one picks against Joe Smith. Both are good players, but neither have lived up to their lofty draft pick status. The difference is that while Smith is locked in as a solid contributor, Bogut has the potential to be more. The difference in this game started when Bogut slammed home a thunderous dunk late in the second half. He followed that with a block on Duhon. In the fourth quarter, Bogut delivered repeatedly, notably intercepting a pass after the momentum swung in the Bulls favor following a big Wallace block on the other end. He also flew straight down the heart of the lane for a two-handed slam that gave the Bucks a 90-89 lead on a nice pass from Redd. The pair of blocks and 11 rebounds were helpful too. Now, about that free-throw shooting...

Three Bad:

  1. The Bucks, aside from Redd, have serious issues at the free-throw line. Tonight, even Redd struggled. But the bigger problem remains everyone else. The Bucks shot 0-1 from the line in the first half and made only 7-14 overall, most of them in the final few minutes. Worse, other than Redd, only Bogut got to the line, and he shot 1-4. In a close game, the lack of easy points was the difference. It's not the first time and it's probably not the last.
  1. Redd and Williams badly outplayed Hinrich and Duhon, keeping the Bucks in the game early and late, as aforementioned. But Gordon burned the Bucks in the fourth quarter, finishing with 31 points overall, including 13-15 from the line. The Bulls' bench shot 13-36 from the field tonight, but made up for it in other areas. Gordon hit 13 free throws alone, almost twice as many as the Bucks. Gordon, Nocioni, and Gray also combined for 20 rebounds while Villanueva, Ivey, Bell, and Voskuhl pulled down just eight rebounds total.
  1. Do the Bucks have five starters on the roster? Even before the unfortunate injury, you never really got the impression that Mason was a perfect fit alongside Williams, Redd, Yi, and Bogut. Coach Krystkowiak stuck with his lineup, but many called for Simmons to start in order to stretch defenses and avoid the characteristic drousy first quarters on the offensive side of the ball. With Mason sidelined, Krystkowiak tried Bell first, and he didn’t score or even attempt a shot in 32 minutes against the Bobcats. And with the way he’s been shooting, that was probably for the best. In any event, Simmons has started two straight, but hasn’t exactly seized the moment. The game against the Nuggets was forgettable for almost everyone, and Simmons was certainly no exception, scoring two points on 1-7 shooting in 27 minutes. Simmons managed to deliver an even more invisible effort against the Bulls, notching four points on 2-4 shooting along with one rebound and no assists in 21 minutes. Especially since Simmons makes his living on the offensive end, his scoring is imperative.
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