Bulls 151, Bucks 135: Recap

Can you guess which fundamental aspect of basketball was missing from the Bucks' final home game of the season? Hint: it's the same one that's been missing from pretty much every Bucks game. In a game that was offensive on a number of fronts, Ramon Sessions' Bucks record 24 assists (along with 20 points and eight boards) went for naught as the Bulls shot an absolutely silly 67% from the field in rolling to a 151-135 win at the Bradley Center. Luol Deng led the Bulls with 32 (15/20 fg), but the Bulls bench was the story with 76 (!) points, highlighted by Chris Duhon's 22 points and 15 assists (and no turnovers) and Ben Gordon's 29.

Three Bucks

  • Ramon Sessions. Sessions certainly benefited from a ton of possessions and hot Bucks shooting, but it's tough to rack up 24 assists without those two things. He reached double digit assists in the first quarter and had 12 by halftime, and if that wasn't enough he also scored a career-high 20 points and eight rebounds along with only two turnovers. He hit a couple jumpers and scored on a number of quick drives to the hoop, including an impressive two-hand dunk as he elevated past two defenders in traffic. The kid's going to be alright.
  • Andrew Bogut. Bogut bounced back from three straight anonymous performances with 25 points, eight boards, and two blocks in 30 minutes. The Bucks actually gave Bogut the ball in the first quarter, and with the Bulls playing him one-on-one he dropped in a couple short hooks early en route to 11 first quarter points. Bogut also easily eclipsed his career highs in free throws made and attempted (9/14), just the third time in his career he's had double digit attempts (he had 10 fta twice earlier this season).
  • Charlie Villanueva. Playing for the first time since his 38/12 night in Toronto on Wednesday, Villanueva had another offensive explosion in the first quarter, scoring 18 points including four three pointers. However he scored just four points the rest of the way, reminding us how frustratingly streak he can be.  

Three Numbers

  • 42. There was no shortage of noteworthy stats in this game, but let's start with the Bulls' incredible 42 assists. While Sessions big night will get the headlines, Duhon set his own career high with 15 assists, and he did it in just 30 minutes, an assist rate only slightly less than Sessions' 24 in 43 minutes. Both guards were getting plenty of cheap assists, as the Bucks especially couldn't find their defensive assignments in transition, leading to tons of open shots.
  • 76. Considering Ben Gordon's penchant for lighting up the Bucks, a big night from Chicago's bench wasn't altogether surprising, but 76 points from the "scrubs" is downright absurd. Gordon's 29 in 28 minutes led the way, but Duhon's unlikely 22 and 15 was the real backbreaker.
  • 24. Sessions set a new NBA season-high in addition to breaking the Bucks' franchise record (21, Guy Rodgers in 1968) with his 24 assists, a number he's likely never to top. As with any record, it was the perfect storm: hot shooting, porous defense, fast pace, and by the end guys were shooting immediately because they wanted him to get the record (when else does Jake Voskuhl became a catch-and-shoot player?). And oh yeah, some great passing might also have been involved. Ironically, Rodgers also once had 24 assists in a game--while playing for the Bulls.

Three Good

  • Memo. There's been lots of talk about Sessions' nickname possibilities: Razor, Ramonster, and Noodles seemed the front-runners. But at least for now the more obvious one is Memo. No, not as in Mehmet "Memo" Okur, but as in the box score memo any time a guy sets a career high. Sessions has now set some sort of career-high in seven straight games, and tonight he set three: points, rebounds and assists. In addition to the assist record, he also became the first Buck to ever tally 20 points and 20 assists in the same game. No, he wasn't stopping anyone on the other end, but on a night like this we'll give him a pass--we have to feel good about something, right? And all those records had Scott Williams joking about a new nickname for Mo Williams: Wally Pipp.
  • Bogut wakes up. Bogut shook off some lackadaisical play of late to bounce back with a strong offensive night that included 8/11 fg and that personal-best 9/14 ft. Tyrus Thomas and Joakim Noah just aren't strong enough to prevent Bogut from backing them down deep into the paint, though at least Thomas managed to swat one of Bogut's shots back to halfcourt. Especially given the Bucks' mediocre three point shooting this year, it's always surprised me a bit when teams allow Bogut to go one-on-one with smaller post defenders.
  • Bobby's back! Well, kinda. One guy who really looks to have benefited from Sessions' distribution: Bobby Simmons. With 15 points tonight, Simmons has now posted 11 or more points in eight of nine contests this month, averaging 13.1 ppg on .536/.471/.857 shooting in 24 mpg. Simmons' game at this point revolves mostly around catching, setting his feet and shooting in rhythm, and the rookie's propensity for finding Simmons off screens and penetration is helping both guys put up numbers.

Three Bad

  • Defense, obviously. The Bulls scored 39, 42, and 39 in the first three quarters before "slumping" to just 31 in the final period. They had 100 points with 6:36 left in the third quarter. I believe Pete Myers had 16 off the bench while wearing a three-button suit and wingtips. So yes, the Bucks' defense was terrible (and the Bulls weren't much better). No one could find a body to cover in transition and they collapsed and surrendered open looks at the slightest hint of penetration in half court. They also refused to show/recover on screens, meaning whoever was handling the ball invariably got an open look regardless of whether his man went under or over the screen. Of course, it probably wouldn't have mattered, because the Bulls got locked into a ridiculous zone that saw almost everyone stroking 18-foot jumpers. Jon McGlocklin compared it to an all-star game, and while there probably weren't quite that many dunks, it wasn't that far off either.
  • Another double-digit lead wasted. As per usual, the Bucks DID at one point lead this game by double digits: they led 28-16 with under five minutes remaining in the first as they demolished their season-high with 45-first quarter points. But for all their hot-shooting they led by only six after one quarter, and the Bulls simply kept coming, establishing a double-digit lead with 2:10 remaining in the second and never looking back.
  • Taking a step back. With just one game remaining and only 26 wins to their credit, the Bucks are guaranteed to finish worse than their injury-plagued 06/07 season (28-54). Unfortunately, this year they won't receive the consolation prize of having the third-best odds of winning the lottery, as they currently rank seventh in the lotto standings.
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