Bucks/Suns: Still searching for a win in Phoenix

2010/2011 NBA Season

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19-27 (8-17 road) vs. 22-24 (13-10 home)
February 2, 2011
US Airways Center
8:00 PM
Radio: 620 WTMJ TV: FSN Wisconsin
Probable starters:
Brandon Jennings* PG Steve Nash
Carlos Delfino
SG Vince Carter
Corey Maggette SF Grant Hill
Ersan Ilyasova 
PF Channing Frye
Andrew Bogut*
C Robin Lopez

(29th) 101.5 - OFFENSE -  110.0 (7th)
(6th) 102.9 - DEFENSE - 111.6 (28th)
(26th) 89.9  - PACE -  94.5 (6th)

On the SunsBright Side of the SunAZ Central / Valley of the Suns

The Bucks face another high-flying offense in Phoenix after falling to the Clippers in L.A. in their first game of the west coast trip. The Bucks will try (I presume) to win in Phoenix for the first time since 1987, though they may be without Andrew Bogut (knee bruise) and Brandon Jennings will be limited to around 24 minutes.

UPDATE: Scott Skiles categorized Bogut as "probable" for tonight's game after Randy Foye fell into his right knee Monday night in L.A. He wore a wrap at shootaround today, but was mostly thankful it wasn't worse. 

"We'll see what happens. It still showed a bone bruise. I was hoping I had nothing. Obviously it could have been worse for ligaments. I saw the footage of it. It didn't look good on film."

No news on John Salmons' hip, and the Bucks also revealed that Drew Gooden is officially being shelved for 4-6 weeks to rest his sore foot--not that any of us were expecting him back soon. Lastly, Keyon Dooling missed shootaround with the flu, though Skiles expected him to be available. -Frank

Phoe-nixed. The Bucks have lost 22 straight in Phoenix. Yet, the Bucks are only down by a couple games, 63-61, in the all-time head-to-head series.

Opposites attack. The Suns play fast (6th in pace), they don't play defense (28th in efficiency), and they run a super-efficient offense (6th in efficiency). In sum, they are the anti-Bucks, who play slowly (26th), play more than a bit of defense (6th), and decisively opt not to score baskets (29th).

Coincidentally, it all evens out. The Bucks even have a slightly better -1.2 per game differential than the Suns, who are at -1.5 per game on the season, 19th and 20th in the NBA in scoring margin respectively.

BJ wants to play. Brandon Jennings was frustrated about his minutes, or lack thereof, after Tuesday's loss to the Clip-Show. The catchy Jennings quote after the game (via Charles Gardner of the JS):

"It kind of took me out of my rhythm a little bit," Jennings said. "If I'm going to play limited minutes, I might as well just not play at all."

That is a bit dramatic, as the minute limits are doctor's orders. And whether he likes it or not (he does not), the Bucks are rightfully playing his return cautiously, and he's expected to be limited to no more than 24 minutes tonight. After his first game back on Saturday at home against the Nets, Coach Skiles:

I'm just happy he got out of the game. He looked good handling the ball, moving around the floor, looked pretty normal. Like I said I'm just happy -- it's just a success that he got out of the game today.

I prefer Brandon's youthful exuberance and optimism and passion for the game to the alternative, but he only shot 5-13 against the Clippers, that 38.0 % mark is right on his season and career average, and though it may sound fatuous to type this way about a 19-27 team, there are far more important games down this season's road, to speak nothing of the many seasons beyond this one, and the team needs him fully healthy for all of those. So speak it, Kelly Dwyer:

So while I'm more or less convinced I went prematurely gray while fretting over Scott Skiles' minutes allotment as Bulls coach from 2003-07, he's not wrong to make sure his hotshot young point guard's foot doesn't turn to dust due to overuse. And Jennings (who started the first 107 games of his career) would do well to pay attention as he watches the game from his seat, because his offensive contributions had become a bit predictable before he injured his foot.

Chalk it up to the frustration of a young man who has never had to deal with injuries, sitting and not starting at this level. And only pay attention to the rumblings if they sustain. Which we don't believe they will.

Hak. Thirteen months ago, Hakim Warrick delivered one of his finest evenings as a Buck -- in Phoenix against the Suns. Totaling 21 points on 8-13 shooting along with 10 rebounds was not enough to prevent Milwaukee from losing in Phoenix yet again, but he was the best player on the team in that game. Warrick now suits up for Phoenix, and his open-court style suited him just fine right away with Steve Nash and the wide-open Suns. In November, Warrick averaged 13.4 points on 55.1 % shooting. But he has fast fallen out of favor, and in January he averaged just 5.1 points on 46.2 % shooting. Warrick has not scored in double-figures since Dec. 15. This was sort of a sad paragraph to write.

Trade revisited. Speaking of players who seem like natural fits in Phoenix's run-and-gun offense, Vince Carter is averaging a reasonable 15.6 points since joining the Suns, but he is shooting just 42.6 % from the field. However, his 40.9 % three-point clip since being traded from Orlando helps make up for it, and the Suns are 9-8 since his arrival, not exactly the dropoff some expected (or a dropoff at all, rather) when they dealt Jason Richardson away to the Magic, considering they Suns were a middling 13-16 before the trade.

Of course, Phoenix's success of late has had more to do with Marcin Gortat, who is averaging 20.0 points on 69.0 % shooting and 11.7 rebounds over the last three games.

The Sun Also Rises. The Suns are a below-average team overall, but they are the sixth best team in the fourth quarter of games this season, with a +0.6 average margin in the final quarter. The Bucks also play better than usual in the fourth quarter (seriously) with a +0.2 per game average in the fourth.

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