Nets 87 Bucks 80: Recap

The Bucks are officially counting the hours until Michael Redd's return after misfiring their way to 80 points against a team entering the game on a nine-game losing streak which prompted their leader to ask for a ticket out of town. The Bucks fell 87-80 to the Nets, a team in tumult but still featuring the requisite talent to win.

Three Bucks

  • Royal Ivey. Coming off his career-high 17 points against the Wizards, Ivey continued to fly high. As always, he played opportunistically and intensely on defense. More surprising is that he continued his offensive prowess: Ivey was the only Buck to score in the first 5:57 of the fourth quarter, and led the Bucks with 19 points.
  • Mo Williams. Williams wasn't excluded from the team-wide shooting woes. Still, his performance warrants positive mention. He didn't get any rest, racking up 46 minutes. In that time, he committed just one turnover, along with 14 points, eight assists, and four rebounds.
  • Anrew Bogut. Tonight's game reminded more of Bogut early this season, when he never really got properly involved in the team's offense. He also suffered badly at the line, making 1-5, on a night when his teammates converted their free throws.

Three Numbers

  • 32. The Bucks scored 32 combined points in the two middle quarters. The Bucks started and finished okay, but couldn't keep pace in the second and third quarters despite the Nets not finding their offensive rhythm either.
  • 24.0 %. The Bucks fired from deep all night, but rarely connected. In all, they made just 6-25 three pointers.
  • +1. Ivey, the "fill-in" starter, was the only one in the starting five to post a positive differential rating.

Three Good

  • From Reserve To Royalty. We've already covered this a couple times, and there is some more below, but how ugly would this game have been without Royal Ivey?
  • Turnovers. Armed with two point guards in the starting backcourt, the Bucks didn’t turn the ball over in the first six minutes of the game. They also didn’t allow any points off turnovers in the first 19 minutes. In the five previous games without Michael Redd, the Bucks actually turned the ball at roughly the same rate, 14.4 times per game, as their season average, 14.8. Tonight however, the guards handled the ball with extra care. Much has been made of the Bucks’ improved defensive efforts. When you lose the 20+ points per game that Redd provided, it’s important to step up defensively. Despite what the anti-Redd crowd insists, points are not easier to come by without the team’s top scorer and playmakers. That was obvious tonight. Thus, it’s key to focus on offensive fundamentals, the most basic of which is taking care of the ball. The Bucks couldn’t score in the halfcourt, but they at least had chances, shooting six more times from the field than the Nets in the game. Although people may remember their unfortunate late-fourth quarter turnovers, Mo Williams and Royal Ivey combined for 14 assists and just three turnovers.
  • Saturday. Both players have their critics, but it's wonderful and welcome news that, reportedly, Michael Redd and Desmond Mason are set to return on Saturday against the Rockets at the Bradley Center.

Three Bad

  • Bench. We could just as easily condemn the starters, but we’ve grown accustomed to big boosts from the Bucks bench of late, as noted in the recap against the Wizards. The Bucks brought only four players off the bench in their previous game. Yet Charlie Bell, Awvee Storey, Michael Ruffin, and Jake Voskuhl combined for 37 points and 15 rebounds. With the starting lineup still thinned out, the bench didn’t come through in the same way tonight, combining for only 13 points on 5-19 shooting.
  • 13 Points. There is nothing inherently wrong with 13 points. If Awvee Storey scores 13 points in a game, great. If Mo Williams scores 13 points in the final six minutes of a game, no complaints. When the Bucks score 13 points in twelve minutes of basketball, like they did in the second quarter, we have a problem. The 11-point quarter has been a recurring theme of consternation this season, and it almost returned tonight. The Bucks went scoreless in the four minutes preceding halftime. The Nets didn’t capitalize in the second quarter, and carried just a five-point lead into halftime. However, the Bucks pushed their luck in a mostly drowsy third quarter which saw their deficit extend to double digits before mounting a mini-surge to close the period down seven points.
  • Post Play. It’s pretty much a given when playing the Nets that your post players will outperform the opposition. If you somehow let Sean Williams, Josh Boone, Jason Collins, Malik Allen, and Jamaal Magliore (long on names, short on ability) outplay you, it’s probably time to rethink whether fans should be paying to watch you play basketball. Williams is a nice rookie, but overall the Nets post players are woeful players on the offensive end, and thus one-dimensional at best. Andrew Bogut and Yi Jianlian each threw up airballs in the first three minutes of the game, inspiring some uneasiness. Both quickly redeemed themselves, with Yi’s redemption coming via a baseline spin around Sean Williams and thunderous two-handed dunk, an easy pick in his rookie highlight vault. However, the Bucks’ starting frontcourt tandem came dangerously close to being outscored by the Nets counterparts (20-15). Even though Bogut and Yi were key in the Bucks’ late fourth quarter run, they needed to win the battle in the paint much more forcefully.
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