Punishing inside, threes from outside, and far too much Tim Duncan all in between, San Antonio handled Milwaukee just like they have not during so many recent matchups. And it all makes sense, really -- after all of those years that the bad Bucks challenged and beat the great Spurs -- that the most buzzworthy version of the Bucks in many, many hot minutes would lose so clearly to a cooled, under-.500 Spurs team.
Five different Bucks scored to close the first half on a 15-2 run, but Duncan scored six quick ones in a reality-checking, flexing, 37-point (defense?) third quarter for the Spurs. They didn't bother looking back.
The Bucks missed Bogut badly, but the Spurs were without Manu Ginobili and so all was fair. Ilyasova was up, Jennings was down, and Redd was back up but looked pretty down.
A tough loss, but not unexpected if we're going to be honest, and we are: Really, this is just life on the road in the NBA when you are many miles from Minneapolis and Memphis.
Ersan Ilyasova. More Turkish Delight tonight, as Ilyasova battled high and low, netting a season-high and team-leading 20 points -- all while making just one three-pointer. That's encouraging. Ilyasova was strong at the rim on a night when most of the Spurs were tougher than most of the Bucks. And his always-active hands on defense paid off handsomely tonight with four steals to his name.
Carlos Delfino. A nice all around effort by Delfino, who buried three corner triples, each one giving his team hope when it looked dim. He brought the Bucks to within 29-39, 38-47, and 53-57, but he needed a few more, and that was only to be for Matt Bonner on this night. After a very quiet game in Memphis, Delfino resumed his recent role as playmaker with a couple nice feeds in the first quarter, finishing with five dimes. He also fared fairly well defensively, without even considering the two blocks.
Hakim Warrick. San Antonio's bench gave it to Bucks, but it was very pleasing to see Warrick come through with confidence after a rather passive start to the year. Unlike just about everyone else on the team, Hak' continues to play better on the road than at home. He got to the line, such a rariety around these parts, and made all five from the stripe, more than half of the team's nine made free throws.
A solid 15/4/2 on 5-7 from the field in 19 minutes, and that is much needed going forward.
0. Tony Parker and Brandon Jennings each turned the ball over five times, not wretched stuff, but neither made it to the free throw line, and that is even more surprising. Zero free throw attempts for Parker and Jennings, and just one combined for Jennings and Bogans on a night when the big men played their size and so did the guards.
(sidenote: I hope Jennings is still in Milwaukee by the time he starts getting calls...)
46-29. The Bucks entered tonight's game ranking second in the NBA allowing opponents just 8.9 offensive rebounds per game. Not bad number, especially considering Andrew Bogut's absence the last few times out. But they really could have used the Aussie (and his 14.5/11.4 career averages against San Antone) in the paint tonight. The Spurs hauled in 13 offensive boards, and stunned Milwaukee with a 46-29 advantage on the glass overall.
1. The Bucks actually made one more field goal (41-40) than the Spurs, but San Antonio made up for it on three-pointers (10-7) and especially -- get this -- at the free throw line (22-9).
Won one already. This is why the Memphis win comes in so handy. Two wins on this road trip would be nice, but not exactly probable.
Worth watching. The second quarter notwithstanding, the Spurs pretty much had this one. In fact, it was merely a short, quick spurt that brought the Bucks all the way back from 15 points down to take a 50-49 halftime lead. Other than that the Spurs had their way.
But while this was the worst loss (by point margin) of the season, Milwaukee remains almost inherently watchable anyway, and we both know that hasn't always been the case. As long as you didn't think they would play .727 ball the rest of the year, there is a lot to look forward to.
Redd returns. I know, he was bad. Okay, epically bad. And that will be detailed. But it is nice to have him back in the fold, even if you don't believe that, even if it was a game too soon...
Michael's misfires. As I walked into the Bradley Center a couple hours before the game on Friday against Charlotte, I noticed Michael Redd shooting hoops. He made a couple jumpers, and I stopped to watch. Then he made 11 more in a row. I counted.
Open, uncontested jumpers in a gym, sure, but crisp shots full of net.
But three nights later, he wasn't ready for it. Redd dribbled almost directly out of bounds on first possession in three weeks. He followed that with a far-off three-pointer. He was blocked. He turned the ball over. He fouled on a three and gave up a four-point play to Keith Bogans. He missed five out of six free throws. And that is what a -17 in 11 minutes looks like.
Killer B's. Bonner, Blair, Bogans: The stuff of legends, so Milwaukee made it seem. Bonner was the anti-Michael Redd tonight, with every shot from every angle falling promptly into the basket. The Red Rocket blasted the Bucks over and over and over and thrice more times over from outside, hitting 6-8 threes and all three free throws, for 23 points in 25 minutes off the bench. Not a lot of wins to be had for opponents when that happens.
DeJuan Blair bullied his way to eight boards (three more than any Bucks had) in 16 minutes as San Antonio won the bench battle decisively, which really ought to happen. Still tough to watch though.
And Keith Bogans, old friend, effectively ended the game with a four-point play followed by a reverse layup in the fourth quarter after the Bucks had cut the lead to ten at 95-85. Just like that, it was 16, and it was over.
Defense. Even as Milwaukee mounted a furious second quarter rally to lead by a point at halftime, they never consistently locked down defensively. The 15-2 streak was brilliant, but in happened in a flash, and the Bucks still gave up 26 points in that quarter. Ginobili was out and Parker was off, and the Spurs still dropped 112 with ease.
"Out of 48 minutes, we had about five good minutes of defense," Skiles said.
The Spurs are an efficient offensive unit, fifth best in the NBA before the game according the pregame notes. Even through a spotty start to their season, they have scored. And when Bonner goes all mid-1990's Glen Rice on you, it is draining to play defense. But the Bucks sure looked drained out there a few times, and that's unusual.