Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
The Milwaukee Bucks weathered an early storm of ineffectiveness against the Sacramento Kings to extend their winning streak to three games. It wasn't pretty, but a sloppy win is always better than the alternative.
Rather than anecdotally explain why most of the Bucks' 98-85 win over the Kings was uglier than Elsa Patton, I'll submit to you a few facts to illustrate the mutual carnage. Visualize at your own risk:
However effective he's been lately, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was often the focal point of the Bucks' interior offense. The same could be said for John Salmons on the Kings.
Sacramento finished the game with an assist-to-turnover ratio of -1.2. They also outscored Milwaukee in the paint (52-46) and on the break (19-11).
Milwaukee took 96 shots, including 24 second chancers, and finished with a slash line of 40.6% fg/35.3% 3fg/58.3% ft. Sacramento took 86 shots, hitting on 37.2% fg, 15.8% 3fg, and 85.7% ft.
Drew Gooden played 22 and a half minutes. He had a put-back dunk (with AUTHority!), fumbled an easy pass under the hoop, got T'd up rousing fan support from the bench, stumbled into a steal running up the court, and swiped a one-handed rebound. In other words, he had the most highlights.
The teams combined for 110 total rebounds.
"It wasn't a well-played game by either team. They're not sending this one to the Hall of Fame," Scott Skiles said. "But you have to win those. At some point in the game you have to make enough plays to win the game, and we did."
Luc Mbah a Moute. Mbah a Moute (17 pts, 6-10 fg, 6 rbs) and Monta Ellis (17 points, 11 assists) were in sync on pick and rolls all night. Even without Ellis' ‘assist'ance of five dimes, Mbah a Moute was aggressive around the rim (5-7 ft) in 26 minutes.
"Monta (Ellis) did a good job of looking for me," Mbah a Moute said. "The way they play, they always switch, so they got confused out there. There's a lot of space to feel and I told him to look for me and he did."
Ersan Ilyasova. The bench has been kind to Milwaukee's resident shawarma-loving basketballer. Ersan registered his second double-double of the season against the Kings, scoring 16 points on 11 shots and pulling down 14 boards. In his past five games, Ilyasova is averaging 13.2 ppg (50% fg, 41.7% 3fg, 84.6% ft), 7.2 rebounds, and 1 steal. Patience is getting acquainted with confidence and comfort as we speak.
Monta Ellis. One possession, Ellis tightly curled off a screen and skipped a pass to Mbah a Moute for an easy lay in. Not a minute later, during a second chance possession, Ellis dribbled to the top of the key and launched a 22-foot jumper with 20 seconds left on the shot clock. The perplexity and brilliance of Monta Ellis, defined in two possessions.
12-2. The Bucks put the game away for good with a 12-2 run that stretched from the tail end of the third quarter to the 8-minute mark in the fourth. Milwaukee's defense clamped down, forcing Sacramento to start the final period missing 11 of their first 12 shots.
59, 33, 60. In a row, those are the Bucks' rebound totals during their three game win streak. Wednesday's 60 boards included 24 on the offensive glass, which although not always fruitful in ensuing possessions, kept the team ahead for all 48 minutes.
31.3%. Remove three pointers (6-17, 35.3%) and paint scoring (23-47, 48.9%) from the equation, and you get a Bucks team that struggled mightily to connect on anything inside mid-range (10-32, 31.3%). Most of these ill-advised shots came at the extreme ends of the shot clock.
The prince returneth. Mbah a Moute has been very humble about his return to the court. But his personal caution during post-game interviews doesn't hide the fact that he's playing with a level of offensive tenacity we have never seen before from the defensive stalwart. Of course, I remember a year ago when everyone thought he had discovered a consistent corner jumper, but any offense you can get from Mbah a Moute is icing on a delicious red velvet cake.
Winning streak. Did you know the Bucks have strung together three straight wins without their best shooters (Dunleavy, Udrih)? The FSN Wisconsin post-game interview involved a Monta Ellis-directed question about sustaining momentum. I can only assume he said, "Playing the Cleveland Cavaliers," in response.
Drew Gooden. Let me see if I understand this: One year, Drew Gooden gets paid $6.2 million, plays 26 minutes per game, and draws scorn from fans. The next year, Gooden gets paid $6.7 million, plays 8 minutes of mostly garbage time, and becomes a folk hero. Has anyone written a dissertation on fan psychology yet?
Airballs and rim shots and fumbles, oh my! When I first learned the controls to the NBA 2K series, I had issues releasing the ball as the shooter was coming down from his shot. The resulting front-rim clanks weren't nearly as painful to watch as some of the beer goggle misses we saw Wednesday night.
Free throws. When Jennings and Ellis aren't hitting shots, the freebies become even more crucial. The Bucks had an opportunity to dagger the Kings early on (10-17 ft in the first half), but failed to capitalize on Sacramento's generosity. That will fly against teams like the Kings; not so much against the NBA heavyweights.
Backcourt inefficiency. Jennings, Ellis, and Doron Lamb combined for 36 points on 46 shots. This is the Bucks' backcourt on bad days, love it or leave it.
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