Carlos Delfino returned to the court for the first time since November, while Andrew Bogut and Corey Maggette poured in 23 and 20 points, respectively, as the Bucks took care of the Cavaliers in Cleveland.
Delfino has been out for over two months (76 days by his count) with concussion symptoms, and while his shooting line (4-11 FG, 1-7 3PT) wasn't glamorous, his presence had a marked effect on the Bucks, who took control of the game in the second quarter and faced minimal resistance from the reeling Cavaliers.
After a tight first quarter, which essentially dissolved into a free-throw drill, left the Bucks with a two-point lead, Milwaukee clamped down in the second, outscoring Cleveland 26-16 with 57% shooting in the quarter. The Cavs shot 14 free-throws in the first 12 minutes, but only went to the line two more times to close out the half. Milwaukee showed a good mix of team play (7 assists on 11 made FGs) and individual playmaking (Corey Maggette's driving And-1 layup with 0:38 left).
The charity stripe saw a lot more action in the third, when the Cavs earned 11 points at the line as familiar-face Ramon Sessions attacked the basket. Sessions finished 14-16 on FTs, while Antawn Jamison went 8-11. For the game, the Cavs were 32-40 from the line. Cleveland finished the quarter on a 10-0 run, cutting the Milwaukee lead to nine entering the fourth. The Bucks failed to maintain an effective offense late in the 3rd, missing five consecutive jumpers, none closer than 9 feet from the basket.
That offensive lapse proved short-lived, as the Bucks opened the fourth quarter with a 9-2 run before Cleveland called timeout less than 3 minutes in. The Cavs continued their frequent trips to the line, but made only 4 shots from the field in the final 12 minutes. The Bucks hit the ever-elusive 100-point plateau on an Earl Boykins jumper with 3:14 left. One more jumper by Boykins and the score was 102-88, and that was that.
Carlos Delfino. A somewhat honorary placement for Delfino, who didn't have a great game by any means, but his return was a welcome sight for fans and teammates alike. He was rusty, for sure, with his first three-point attempt barely grazing the front of the rim, but his 23 minutes were double what many expected him to play. Assuming his symptoms don't return, Milwaukee should be seeing their favorite Argentinian back in form soon enough
Andrew Bogut. Here's the big question--which is the more valuable game for Bogut: the 11 point, 16 rebound, 5 block game, or the 23 point, 6 rebound, 2 block game? Which one gets you elected to the All-Star Game? Maybe those aren't questions easily answered, and maybe they're irrelevant. Bogut looked really, really good tonight in all the places where he has looked pretty bad of late, but he definitely had trouble with Cleveland's quickness. His defensive impact goes far enough even without blocking shots to help Milwaukee, so these stellar offensive outputs are great, even if they may come at the expensive of some rebounds or swats.
Corey Maggette. 20 points on 12 shots, 8-9 on FTs. Maggette is averaging 20.5 points since joining the starting lineup. In those four games, he is shooting 53.4% from the field and has made 18 of 19 free throws. Granted, the Bucks are 2-2 in those games, but still!
47.8. Keyon Dooling's assist percentage. That's a great number. Dooling quietly racked up 11 assists in the game--I say, "quietly" because he had nine before I knew he had three. He shot 3-10, which I was also unaware of until I saw the numbers. Was he wearing the same number as usual?
7-3. This was the tenth time the Bucks eclipsed 100 points, and the first time in back-to-back games since November 9th & 10th. They are now 7-3 in those games.
28.6%/52.3%. Ramon Sessions' FG% and TS%, thanks to a 4-14 line from the floor and 14-16 on free throws. Free throws kept the Cavaliers in this game, with Sessions the primary culprit.
Efficiency Differential. The Bucks shot 50.6% while holding the Cavaliers under 40%. Using Pick and Scroll's great advanced stats calculator, Milwaukee had an estimated 112.6 ORtg and 97.1 DRtg. That's the 5th best differential of the season.
Sharing is caring. The Bucks had 24 assists on 39 made shots, good for a 61.5 Ast%. Milwaukee's assist rate (the percentage of possessions ending in an assist) is an NBA-worst 17.09, with a 53.5 Ast% (the percentage of made shots that are assisted), so tonight was really an exceptional night of ball movement for the Bucks. It's a little risky to call low assist total a serious issue, since it's obviously possible to score lots of points with very few assists, but they definitely can't hurt.
Transforming turnovers into points. The Bucks scored 25 points off of 16 Cleveland turnovers. Again, those numbers are a little empty without context, but they definitely speak to how effective Milwaukee was on offense. A 1.56 PPP on those possessions? That's pretty DANG good.
Easy Points. I've highlighted it a few times already, but the Cavs shot FORTY free throws. Luckily the Bucks' defense was excellent in most every other category, so getting 32 points at the stripe didn't hurt too much.
Turnover Rate. Milwaukee's 14 turnovers might not seem like a lot, but with possession adjustments it yields a 13.8 TOR, much higher than the Bucks' spectacular 12.3 average. In a blowout against a bad team, a few extra turnovers don't seem like an issue, but more than a few games have been lost on just a few lost possessions, and the margin of error for Milwaukee is very thin for the rest of the season if the goal is still to make the playoffs.
Fourth-Quarter Shootout. Today's FSWisconsin 4QSO contestant selected Jon Brockman to score the Bucks' first points of the fourth quarter. In retrospect, that's a defensible choice: Milwaukee should have had the game comfortably in hand by the 4th quarter, meaning Brockman was potentially looking at a bigger run of playing time. But Brockman wound up the only Buck to set foot on the court and not score. In fact, he hadn't scored in three straight games coming in. Don't overthink things, people.