MILWAUKEE -- It was 17-10 Bucks, and then people got in the way of my view and I couldn't tell what was happening on the court from late-first quarter to mid-second quarter. By the time I could finally see again, it was 39-17 Cavs. Twenty-nine in a row, I missed them all, and missed nothing from the Bucks.
Okay, that's not really true. But it is a good story, and the Bucks didn't exactly give me a good story today.
And there is some truth above:
Seated behind the Cavs' bench, it was increasingly difficult to see with the standing players (waiting and waiting and... for the Bucks to score a point before sitting) obstructing my view of the court. And worse yet, Cleveland really did run off 29 points in a row.
The Bucks started the game on an 11-0 run, it was loud, Jennings was leading it, and Bogut appeared ready to go. A real high. No one expected a win today for Milwaukee, but an early 11-point lead is liable to delude you a bit.
That high wore off in a hurry though, and reality reigned down fast and hard on the Bucks. But while The Twenty Nine was a rather exorbitant way for Cleveland to assert that they are a far better basketball team, we already knew that.
Of course, that doesn't mean the first blowout home loss of the Jennings Era doesn't hurt some, but reality hurts you sometimes.
Brandon Jennings. It's been too long. Sure, he's made recent appearances on Three Bucks here and here; this is his third game in a row with the honors. But that is more of an indictment on the team as a whole than a positive reflection on Jennings as a player.
Tonight he is at the top, and this was fully earned. After tweeting that he was done shooting after the Detroit debacle, Jennings flew to the basket and pulled up for a jumper for four quick points in the first two minutes of the game. Frank's pregame notes included a nifty chart of Jennings' shot chart from different areas on the court to date. Most startling to the eye was how ineffective he has been converting around the basket.
So it was good to see Jennings finish around the rim a number of times on his way to 24 points, only seven of which came outside the paint. He didn't make a three-pointer (for just the third time this season) and still had a good offensive game. That's encouraging.
Brandon has become more demonstrative in his objections to officials lately, and probably for good reason: He still isn't getting many calls, but another good sign was that he got to the line and made all six.
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. The Principal was only on the floor for about a minute of the 29-0 run, enabling his +1 differential. Luc only played 22 minutes, but shot 3-4 from the field and had a couple steals. And his defense on LeBron was pretty Good.
Hakim Warrick. Warrick had the worst differential (-25) of anyone. He missed all three of his shots during that 29-0 run.
But then again, they had Hak' on Shaq there for a while, and that is not fair. And Warrick continued a pretty good couple weeks offensively, scoring 11 points on 4-9 shooting in 21 minutes. Best of all was that he stayed mostly in dunk-mode, and I like when he has that type of one-track-mind. He also hauled in nine rebounds (three offensive) to tie for the team lead.
35. The Bucks actually made just as many field goals (35) as the Cavaliers, which is pretty astounding considering Milwaukee didn't score for a few epochs. The Bucks had far more field goal attempts (93-75) which can be traced partly to the usual free throw shooting discrepancy; the Cavs made 25-27 at the line, the Bucks just 12-16.
14. A nice little personal 14-0 run by Delonte West to start the second quarter. Yes, he scored 14 straight points in about four minutes. Preposterous.
18. The Bucks missed 18 straight shots in that 29-0 run. They didn't miss any free throws during that time though! See, 29-0 runs don't happen to teams that get to the line, say, every five or six or seven or eleven minutes.
Second half. Granted, the Cavs had this one on cruise control after going into halftime up by 19. But for the Bucks to outscore Cleveland in both the third and fourth quarters after the physically and emotionally draining 29-0 run is really quite something.
Yeah, well, I've got two words for you: King of the jungle. The new MVPuppets commercial is mighty good. And while the lion didn't sleep tonight, Mbah a Moute did a fine job on the best player in the world when they matched up.
Skiles moved Delfino to the two and started Luc with the matchup in mind.
Now, 'Bron finished with 14/5/10, and the Cavs didn't even need that much from him. But James scored 55 points the last time I reported at a Cavs/Bucks game prior to today, the last time the Prince tried guarding James at the BC. Mbah a Moute shadowed him as best you can, and James finished with more turnovers (5) than field goals (4).
Jennings. The defense still needs work, but it was nice to see him back on the right offensive track. If you went to the game hoping to see the Bucks win or LeBron at his best, you left maybe somewhat disappointed. But if you wanted to catch a glimpse of the evolution, of the future, you are okay. Be okay.
29-0. I will have to check on this to confirm, but I don't think good teams allow 29-0 runs. No, I do not think so. And now that the Bucks are 9-10 and under. 500 for the first time in over a month, I guess I don't need to confirm anyway.
8-3 feels like eleventy million years ago, and the Bucks are 1.5 games ahead of the 11th place Pistons.
Bogut. It's not as though he was the only one who played poorly tonight. But we have higher standards for some. And this makes three missing-in-actions in a row.
Before the game, I was pretty comfortable with the idea that Bogut had a better chance of being an All-Star this year than Roko Ukic did of winning the Sixth Man Award. Now, I'm not so sure. Sure, Roko (3-4, 8 points) had his best game as a Milwaukee Buck in history of life, ever, all time.
But that's not the point here. That first game back against Chicago maybe got us too excited, too hopeful that Bogut was ready to take a step forward this season. Just a week later and he is rutted in a three-game run during which he hasn't reached 10 points or 10 rebounds.
D. Usually when you go 11+ minutes without scoring, offense would seem to be the problem. And it was. But when Bogut isn't on, Ridnour is falling back to earth, Redd is out, and Jennings isn't scoring 55 points, this team realistically doesn't have that much O. Oh, that scoreless stretch was just miserable, but isn't that when good defense is supposed to come in handy? You know, because good defense isn't streaky?
Not a really bad defensive performance, and with 86 points it just wasn't going to happen today regardless. But lots of dunks, plenty of easy baskets.
After ranking as the top defensive club in the league for a while, the Bucks entered today ranked a still-impressive sixth overall. But they've allowed 100+ points in seven of the past eight. I mean, Delonte West just dominated, and it was pretty much all at the basket or the line, so it wasn't just a matter of someone, getting hot, hitting shots.