[A bright Brew Hoop debut for Jeremy of Bucksketball. Friday the 13th proved perhaps not the luckiest day for the Bucks however. -Alex]
And this is why the Knicks game hurt so much. Facts are facts and it is a fact that the Bucks do not have as much talent as the Hornets. The Bucks played hard and pretty well actually given their situation, but ultimately did not have the horses to stay with the Hornets for four quarters. The defense looked better but the rebounding remained an issue. And Chris Paul did a whole lot of Chris Paul.
It looked like a Big Ten game had broken out after the first quarter ended knotted at 14 but the Bucks held the lead for the majority of the first half thanks to Charlie Bell and Keith Bogans who combined for 16 of the Bucks 22 second quarter points. Unfortunately Chris Paul knifed through the Bucks defense - as he would continue to do for the rest of the night - before the horn sounded on the first half leaving the Bucks down 39-38 heading into the third. The Bucks found themselves down eight with about ten and a half minutes to go in the fourth quarter after a runner by Paul. The Bucks fought back and tied things up at 73 on a Luke Ridnour three. Paul put the hammer down though, keying a 7-0 run comprised of his own runner and two of his usual brilliant assists.
As frustrating as it was tonight, watching Paul is one of the most enjoyable things a basketball fan can do. How his name isn't even coming up in the MVP conversation always amazes me. Who are the Hornets without him? The Bucks did not have an answer for Paul in the second half and now must continue to search for their own answers.
- Charlie Bell. I've been as hard as anyone on this Flintstone, but he came to play tonight. Both teams looked like they were sleepwalking early but Bell was a shot in the arm off of the offense. Bell's primary job is to shoot the ball and he did that very well tonight finishing 3-5 on threes. He had a couple of bad TO's in the early going of the fourth quarter, but the Bucks may have never led after the first quarter were it not for him.
- Keith Bogans. This is the guy I expected. Bogans showed his sweet shooting touch in the second quarter, hitting two threes. He even took it to the basket without looking tremendously awkward. Later Bogans spent time guarding David West -- the results were not awful -- showing his versatility on the defensive end.
- Richard Jefferson. While he was not getting to the line like he had been lately, Jefferson still found a way to put up 27 points. He was taking very good shots tonight and finishing strong. How he ended up only taking six free throws I don't know.
- 46-30. Rebounding has been a problem ever since Andrew Bogut went out and tonight it was as much of a problem as it's ever been. Tyson Chandler and David West looked like the older kids playing with the younger ones grabbing almost as many boards between the two of them (27) as the Bucks did as a team. More often than not a -16 on the boards will lead to a long night.
- 26. The difference in points between the starting point guards was not pretty. The not-so-much-hyped (but a little-bit-hyped) matchup of point guards went decisively in the favor of New Orleans tonight. Sometimes it was hard to tell Ramon Sessions was even on the floor. He ended with a very un-Sessionslike line of four points, one rebound and seven assists. Compare that to CP3's 30 point, six rebound, nine assist and four steal effort and that about sums things up for those two tonight.
- 16. The Hornets ended the night with a plus 16 on free throw makes. The Bucks looked awfully comfortable with shooting jumpers tonight. None of the Bucks guards even shot a single free throw on the evening. When playing a team as physical as the Hornets can be you'd think that would be a focus. Given his penchant for flagrant fouls, is the word out not to come in David West's lane?
- B&B. I have been harping on Bell and Bogans as of late but they really looked good tonight. I'll refrain from getting my hopes up for nightly 50% shooting performances, but if they can continue to give a similar effort to the one they each did tonight I'd be pretty pumped.
- Staying Alive. After losses by everyone (except for the Knicks) fighting for the final spot in the Eastern Conference the Bucks somehow STILL remain in the eighth and final spot. The fans of these six teams are going to have to get together and have a support group meeting sometime in the next month. Does anyone want to make the playoffs this year?
- Mbah a Moute. This was his kind of game. Or what I'm imagining will be his kind of game in two years. He was able to capitalize on the early ugliness to end up with double digit rebounds (10). When his mid range jumper gets a little more consistent this will be the kind of game he can have an even bigger impact on.
- Home Court Collapse. The Bucks began the year looking very tough at home, but losses to the likes of the Nets and Knicks may have put a dent in their psyche. They've now dropped three of four at home. This could be a very tough stretch if they can't recapture their early season home court toughness.
- Charlie V. Hopefully we can write this one off as a bad day after a late night. Charlie V. surely watched his beloved UConn Huskies fall in six overtimes last night. Tonight he looked like the Charlie V. of old, right down to the spotty minutes and poor block outs. Tyson Chandler can thank Villanueva for the seven offensive rebounds.
- No Easy Road. Things do not get any easier on Sunday for the Bucks when the Celtics come to town. Word is that Rajon Rondo will be back and he could give them a lot of the same problems that Chris Paul did tonight.