The Bucks return home from their easy road win in Cleveland looking for a third straight win against the Grizzlies, who kick off a four game road trip after a come-from-behind 115-110 win over the Rockets last night in Memphis. While Andrew Bogut (23 pts on 14 shots) and Corey Maggette (20 pts on 11 shots) were the box score standouts against the Cavs, the bigger news was the long-awaited return of Carlos Delfino following 11 weeks on the sideline with concussive symptoms.
No missing the Fish. John Salmons has missed the last two games with a sore hip and is a game-time decision tonight, but are the Bucks really missing him at the moment? They didn't have too much trouble dispatching the Wiz and Cavs without him, topping 100 points in consecutive games for the first time this season as Corey Maggette and Chris Douglas-Roberts manned the starting wing positions. The only other game missed by Salmons this season was the buzzer-beating loss in San Antonio, so they've managed just fine in the absence of their up-and-down starting SG. But before we all pile on Salmons, there are at least some indications he's coming around. Though Salmons is shooting an excellent 42% from distance on the year (surprising considering the circumstances, no?), January is the first month he's managed to crack 40% overall from the field (41.3%).
Carlitos' Way. In pure basketball terms, Milwaukee's favorite South American import didn't really stand out one way or the other in Cleveland--not that anyone's complaining. It's hard to expect a big night from a guy who's participated in exactly one practice in the last 76 days. Our Argentine correspondent Palomba translated some quotes from Carlos' blog last night:
I’m super happy after such a long inactivity. Coming back was really big for me: I felt alive again and I ‘am with huge adrenaline!
Now must keep adding up and getting better physically and with the game, to help the team. Even though I was not very straight to the rim, which it was expected, I thought I would be a little more out of rhythm. Truth is I didn’t feel sooooo out of it….
Now I must try to rest and think that tomorrow we play again and we must win by any means. For methere also the challenge of playing home again, in front of my people, and in back to back! I hope everything continues this way because I am exultant !!
A big hug for everybody and as always thanks for the constant support
Life without Brandon. If the speed at which he was jumping off the bench to cheer on his mates in Cleveland was any indication, Brandon Jennings will probably be back on the court sooner rather than later. And while the Bucks haven't set a date for his return, the end of January would be right around six weeks from his surgery--right at the tail end of the 4-6 week recovery time suggested when he originally went under the knife.
As a starter he’s putting up 10.1 ppg, 5.3 apg, 1.5 to and .410/.351/.924 shooting—about as good as we could have hoped for when Jennings went down in mid-December. More importantly, the Bucks have been shockingly better with Dooling is on the court. The Bucks are 6.9 pts/100 better on defense and 5.0 pts/100 with Dooling on the court--the best net differentialon the team. So while those figures are hardly the be-all/end-all of a player’s contribution, it's clearly a good thing and reflective of the fact that both the first and second units have held their own with KD on the floor.
Grizzly D. Memphis is below average in three of the four defensive factors, but they lead the league in forcing turnovers and that's a big reason why they're still ranked 12 in defensive efficiency.
The most interesting man named Rudy Gay. Putting aside the fact that the premise was already used by Steve Nash a couple years ago, I have to say that the Rudy Gay all-star campaign video is pretty well done. Still, Gay's numbers haven't changed much since Memphis decided to massively overpay him over the summer--he's upped his scoring efficiency modestly and isn't quite the black hole he used to be, but $80 million for 21 ppg and 6 rpg? I think I speak for all Bucks fans when I say that's so 2005.