Losers of seven of their last nine games, the Bucks desperately needed some home-cooking against Charlotte on Friday. An easy win? Even better.
Exacting a measure of revenge for their loss in Charlotte two weeks ago, the Bucks were the aggressors early and never encountered much resistance from a misfiring Bobcat squad that trailed by double digits for virtually the entire night. Marquis Daniels was slashing and hitting his jumpers (18 pts on 11 shots, 6 rebs) and Brandon Jennings (15 pts, all in the first half, 8 ast, 3 stl, 2 to) was creating in the open court, while Ersan Ilyasova (21 pts, 12 rebs) provided firepower off the bench for the second straight (!) game.
All told, it was a dominant performance in the trenches from the Bucks, who offset their fairly poor shooting by collecting a ridiculous 43% of their own misses (23 offensive rebounds) and swatting 14 Bobcat shots. Some other thoughts:
- Larry Sanders did what Larry Sanders does (8 pts, 10 rebs, 5 blks, 26 min) while Sam Dalembert was effective as his backup, doing things that Sam Dalembert is supposed to do (5 blks in 14 min). Their most common shot-blocking victim was Bobcat sophomore Bismack Biyombo, who rejected four shots but saw five of his own sent back.
- How about Luc Mbah a Moute's post game? The Prince has always had fairly underrated footwork around the hoop, but he looked downright McHale-esque in thrice abusing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist with an assortment of drop-steps and up-and-under moves in the post. He's obviously still working his way into shape and won't ever be a go-to guy on offense, but his aggressiveness has been a breath of fresh air since his return from injury last week.
- Drew Gooden played! Seeing his first action of the season late in the fourth quarter, Gooden received a warm reception from the crowd but quite logically looked like, well, a Drew Gooden who hadn't played in a month. He missed all four of his shots but scored his first points of the season from the stripe and swatted a shot as well.
- I could watch Doron Lamb shoot runners for days.
- SB Nation: Bucks among the fast and dubious
Tom Ziller looks looks at pace and efficiency in his latest piece, citing the Bucks and Mavericks among the few teams that might be hurt by playing faster (more inefficient possessions being bad). I'd actually go the opposite direction--I'd be scared to think how ineffective the Bucks might be if they weren't able to run as much as they have. Without a consistent low-post scorer to soak up halfcourt touches, the Bucks are going to rely on Ellis and Jennings to create shots no matter if they run or not, and to me that's more of the issue.
As Ziller notes, Ellis and Jennings simply don't score efficiently enough in general to carry a team's offensive load. Last year the Bucks' benefited greatly from the terrific shooting of Dunleavy and Ilyasova, but they haven't had the same consistency this year and it's clearly hurt the Bucks' offensive numbers. As some of us were discussing in the game thread on Friday, the issue seems more about finding ways to take pressure off the Bucks' guards, which is a charitable way of saying other guys need more touches--and need to do something with them. Not easy given the Bucks' lack of frontcourt scorers, but it's certainly an issue that will need to be addressed.
- Fox Sports Wisconsin | Udrih and Dunleavy hurting
The Bucks' perimeter depth has been stretched by the absences of Beno Udrih and Mike Dunleavy, and they were without both again on Friday. It sounds like Dunleavy is probably close to returning from his sore knee, but Andrew Gruman reports that Udrih is still on crutches with a swollen right ankle.
"I don't think it is going to be in a couple days or anything like that," Skiles said of Udrih's return. "Maybe sometime later next week, who knows? He's not close yet."
- SI | Visualing Scott Skiles' rotations
There's been plenty of talk recently about the Bucks' ever-changing rotations, but Rob Mahoney's latest at Sports Illustrated offers the best way to visualize it. Very cool.
- Hoops World | Bucks' bigs coping with uncertainty (via CheesePlease in the comments)
Speaking of the Bucks' rotations, Sam Dalembert is the latest to imply his lack of enchantment with his minutes. Join the club, bud.
"It is not working," Dalembert said. "It's not quite, I thought my role would have been a little bit more. But, like I said it's coaching and everybody is doing their best.Dalembert has been an enthusiastic cheerleader when he's been on the bench, so I don't think we're at the point of saying he's been disruptive even if his play has been inconsistent. The obvious problem is that it's a numbers game--there are too many healthy guys to keep happy, but Sanders and Udoh have been the only ones who have consistently played well enough to demand extended minutes. The Bucks would have benefited from swapping a big man for another capable ball-handler before the season, and there's no doubt they would have swapped Gooden if they could have. But they quite reasonably don't want to deal Sanders, Udoh or Henson at this point, which means a logjam until further notice.
"Everybody just has to be ready when they call their name to produce. We have a lot of guys here and everybody is pretty much in the same place. We're striving for minutes. When we get out there we support each other and the next teammate. We're managing for the time being."