Mean reversion can be so cruel. Two days after dismantling the Mavs by 34, the Bucks predictably showed up slow and sloppy in the ATL and got it handed to them, 117-87. Aside from another lights out shooting performance from Charlie Villanueva (10/14 fg, 5/6 threes, 27 pts), there was really nothing redeeming about this game. Even so, the Bucks clawed to within five early in the third quarter, before they broke out their clown car and used a series of missed layups and bad turnovers to squander any chance they might have had.
Mike Bibby's steadiness has been a huge factor in Atlanta's great start and he marshalled the offense again with 12 points and 15 dimes, while Josh Smith's CV-like scoring (11/15 fg, 24 pts) made up for an off night from Joe Johnson (3/11, 9 pts, 5 TO). Just as important was the Hawks' bench, which got a combined 43 from Flip Murray (an absurd 11/13 fg) and Mo Evans (5/8 fg).
Did Larry Krystkowiak give the pre-game pep talk or something?
- Charlie Villanueva. As we noted in the pregame, it's been Charlie's month and nothing changed in Atlanta. CV scored 19 in the first half and would had more than 27 if Skiles hadn't benched the starters late in the third. As usual, it was the three ball that got CV's explosive night going, as he made 5/6 from deep.
Michael Redd. It was not a good night for Redd, but the same was true of everyone else not named Villanueva in a green jersey. Redd's aggressiveness near the end of the second quarter (13 pts at the half) kept the Bucks vaguely in it at the half (52-41), and he deserves some credit for JJ's off night.
Luc Mbah a Moute. This might as well be a pass, but at least Mbah a Moute (10 boards, two blocks) was trying. I guess.
- 18%. The Bucks (.380) were as cold as the Hawks (.558) were hot, and in combination it was an ugly thing for a Bucks fan to behold. An 18% shooting differential is not going to be easily overcome.
- 16/21. Just as the Bucks couldn't miss on Wednesday, Flip Murray (11/13) and Mo Evans (5/8) could do no wrong for the Hawks. While the final bench scoring differential was only 52-30 Atlanta, Murray and Evans got plenty of theirs when it counted--unlike the Bucks, who seemed to get most of theirs once Scott Skiles waved the white flag in the third quarter.
- 4. The Bucks deservedly lost every quarter, piling up an ever-increasing deficit: -8, -11, -19, -30. Usually the Bucks' garbage time crew manages to make things look a little more respectable, but the Hawks scrubs beat them up, too.
Three Two Good
- The Chuck Wagon rides on. Villanueva is now averaging 27.3 ppg in 31.7 mpg over his last three games. He's up to .519/.479/.843 shooting for the month.
- Well-rested for tomorrow! Redd (32 minutes) was the only starter to play more than 27 minutes. So at least they should be rested and motivated to give a better performance when the Kings are at the BC tomorrow night. Tickets still available...
No more 'Nique? My friend Brian--the Bucks biggest fan from Oklahoma--always gives me crap when I skip a third bullet without explanation, so Brian, this one's for you. I've now had the misfortune of twice having to listen to Dominique Wilkins' inane color commentary on League Pass this season, and I can only hope the LP gods have mercy on me the next time these two teams meet. In fact, I'm just going to assume I've put in my time at this point. Jim and Jon will be music to my ears when I hopefully hear them tomorrow.
RJ. Congrats Richard, you've supplanted Michael Redd as Bucks' fans favorite high-priced whipping boy. Tonight he deserved it, too--just five points on 1/6 fg before Skiles unceremoniously yanked him with seven minutes remaining in the third.
The lowlight of the night for me came on a 3-on-1 break with the Bucks down nine early in the third. Ridnour fed it over to Jefferson streaking down the left wing, who proceeded to rise for a gimme left-handed layup. Instead it bricked off the backboard. No rim. Michael Redd was there however...and he proceeded to give an up fake and then miss another layup. $29 million just doesn't buy what it used to, you know?
- The revenge of Zaza Island. Back in 2005 when the Bucks were deciding whether to re-sign Dan Gadzuric and/or Zaza Pachulia, the RealGM gang jokingly termed the Zaza loyalists as members of "Zaza Island" (it preceded "Mo Nation" among the Bucks' nation-states). Well, you know the story by now. The Bucks signed Gadzuric--who in fairness was a very productive role player in 04/05--to a $36 million deal while letting Pachulia walk for a far more reasonable four years, $16 million. Gadzuric proceeds to regress almost instantly, and of late he's been mostly miserable despite having ample opportunity to prove himself with Bogut out. Meanwhile Pachulia at least maintains some dignity. You can guess how things went tonight.
- Defenseless. It's not rocket science I guess--replace Bogut with Gadzuric and put in Villanueva for Mbah a Moute and your starting unit becomes a very poor defensive group. That's carried over to the Bucks as a team, too, though it's also understandable Skiles continues to ride Villanueva's hot hand. In the meantime, the Bucks more or less seem resigned to being the Bucks of two years ago--living and dying with their perimeter scoring while being unable to do much besides try to outgun the other guys.