MILWAUKEE -- Jerry Stackhouse was brought in to give the team a scoring punch, but there is nothing quite like the Toronto Raptors to energize Milwaukee's offense.
And while Stackhouse was the pregame story, and Chris Bosh and Andrew Bogut were the in-game stories, and the postgame story reads about them, it reads the most about the team:
The team includes Carlos Delfino, who again made threes in bushels. Brandon Jennings, who played his age and beyond his age. Luc Mbah a Moute, who guarded just about everyone and was smart and strong offensively. Francisco Elson, who played. Charlie Bell, who started and was all sorts of efficient. Hakim Warrick, who didn't play much but did his thing. Ersan Ilyasova, who struggled but made a tip-shot in the fourth quarter, one of the biggest shots of the game. Luke Ridnour, who just refuses to let that silly field goal percentage go down.
And even as Jodie Meeks was squeezed out of the rotation on this night, believe he is part of the team.
About an hour after the game, after the fans all filed out, after Scott Skiles addressed the media, after the postgame locker room interviews, after most players were dressed like you and me except in pricier brands and larger sizes, and after plenty of bedtimes, there were two people shooting hoops out on the court.
Meeks, still dressed in his game jersey and shorts, was firing in sideline jumpers. Ridnour rebounded and fired passes back to Meeks, and they traded roles, went back-and-forth.
We can, and should, get excited when the Bucks actually play some offense, like tonight. But with this group, these nights in the 110's aren't going to happen often. Because right now, Bogut isn't dominant, Jennings is a delightful work-in-progress, but a work-in-progress, Mbah a Moute is just figuring it out, and Meeks, labeled a shooter coming in, needs to work on that.
So it is good that the team plays Toronto on Friday, even better that the players are working on it.
Andrew Bogut. I wrote this name here a couple minutes into the game. No real worries about the prospect of deleting it from this space, not much doubt about leaving it first. Not with all the touches early, not with the touches on the hooks to the left and right.
In the end, 11-14 from the field, nice numbers for someone who entered the game inexplicably hitting a career-low 49.3 % from the field. In fact, this was Bogut's best shooting night of the season, and 5-6 from the line was a beautiful bonus.
The Bucks fed Bogut early and often, as the Aussie started 4-5 from the field as his teammates shot 0-9. Not only did 'Drew score the team's first eight points, he seemed to shake Andrea Bargnani, who never really put it together on either end of the floor.
Just like all month, Bogut controlled the glass, piling up 12 rebounds before fouling out with just over four minutes to play.
Carlos Delfino. After a rather destitute month-long stretch dotted with zeroes (including five scoreless games), the guard-forward has filled statsheets as one of the heroes four games straight. Carlos can do a little bit of everything, and sometimes that possesses him to do a little too much of everything.
But in the past week, the Argentine has earned minutes and scored big, particularly from beyond the arc. Tonight he made 4-8 threes, crucial in a tight game.
After much recent success of the bench, Delfino started tonight and started right where he left off. He also started where he left off from his strong first game this season against his former club, which was highlighted by a block that is probably still the individual play of the year for this team.
Charlie Bell. Ridnour had a nice start to the fourth quarter, Mbah a Moute was good again, Stackhouse had a nice little debut, and Jennings was better than the boxscore says.
But this was a nice comeback for Charlie after the 0-2 showing against Houston. And a nice role in the comeback tonight for Charlie, who went for nine points in the second half. He also didn't let high-flying rookie Demar Derozan (1-6 shooting) get past him. Bell enjoyed a game-best +12 differential tonight.
1. Milwaukee committed just one turnover in the second half, contributing largely to an unusual 64-point offensive outburst.
And that one turnover was Bogut's offensive foul that fouled him out of the game. The Raptors are criminally bad on the defensive end, but still it is quite a feet to not throw the ball away even once. In all, the Bucks turned the ball over seven times.
46.7 % The Bucks shot a blistering 53.3 % from the field in the second half on their way to a 46.7 % shooting night overall. Bogut (11-14), Bell (6-9), Mbah a Moute (4-6) were among the most accurate of the accurate.
4. Stackhouse grabbed four offensive rebounds in the first four minutes of the second quarter.
Comeback. The Bucks seemingly didn't leave the slow starts out west, but they came all the way home, and came all the way back at home.
Sonny Weems (not to be confused with any other Sonny Weems's), the Sonny Weems whom Milwaukee traded for and waived this past offseason, gave Toronto a 52-41 lead a few minutes before halftime.
The Bucks sizzled to start the second half and pulled ahead 66-65 on a Bell jumper midway through the third. Toronto led for less than a minute the rest of the way.
Stack'd. Certainly a more rousing than dull start for Stack-in-his-new-house.
Stackhouse got into the paint and found open men on the perimeter, hit the offensive glass, and generally did everything in nearly ten first half minutes except what he was brought in to do: score. And that deference was just fine, because he found brand-new teammates in new spots, and he and his teammates coincidentally made a brand-new percentage of shots (46.7 %) from the field.
Before the game, Scott Skiles said they hadn't even seen him play five-on-five, and afterward it was clear that Stack is just finding his way...
The guys were great at trying to just kind of get me in spots and I had a good feel for some of the sets we went over in practice and whatnot. I caught on to that pretty good but some of the stuff, once you're out there, Scott (Skiles) started calling some things I've never heard of, so it's just 'get to the corner'.
Only three points in his debut, and while that number will obviously rise, don't expect him to be a big scorer off the bench. But all is well if he can pick up the scoring pace a bit and continue to rebound (four offensive) and pass (four assists).
Oh, and Stack hit a huge three in the fourth quarter.
To Toronto. The Bucks get the Raptors again on Friday, and while it's tough to win two in a row against the same team and even tougher to win on the road, Toronto has certainly brought out the best in Milwaukee's often-awful offense. They scored 117 in the first game and 113 tonight.
If the Bucks would set a rotating schedule consisting solely of Golden St. (whom they scored 129 and 113 against) and Toronto, they might rank better than 26th offensively.
Of course, Toronto is tough at home...
Back on the road. Well it was nice to be back at the BC for a minute...
CB4 real. Bosh, utterly unstoppable. We have seen Kobe and Dirk hit game-winners, and watched Nash and Duncan toy with the defense, but no one to date has lit up the Bucks so easily, so sweetly, so smoothly as the Christopher Wesson Bosh.
Didn't much matter who tried to guard him, and while he was more excellent in the first half (8-11 shooting) than the second (7-15), he notched 22 points in each half for 44 total. That included 14-15 from the line, where he typically does good work. Just incredible stuff all around from a prodigious talent.
Not crowded. Okay, so Stackhouse's debut didn't attract the masses. That much we figured. But after two high-scoring wins against the Raptors this season, hopefully more than 12,637 or 12,724 come out to watch next time Toronto is in town.
However, Squad 6 had a lot to cheer about from Bogut, and they are moving up in the Googleworld (though squad automatic weapon will be a tough catch), so that's Good.