It was never a matter of if the Golden State Warriors would pull away from the Milwaukee Bucks, but when they would do it. The when came later than most thought, but the Warriors tightened up enough after halftime to leave the Bucks in their dust in the third quarter, cruising to an easy 101-80 victory in Milwaukee. For the Bucks, well, chalk up another uninspiring loss, the 27th in 34 games. The Warriors only led by two at the half and saw Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson only go a combined 11-36 shooting, yet a dominating performance on the glass (54-37) and timely baskets from seemingly the entire Warriors roster in the second half kept the Bucks from making their comeback effort more serious.
It was another one of those Bucks games where you feel that nothing really important happened, and that you were just sitting there watching bodies shuffle around while that ringing noise in your ear got louder and louder. There were a few decent statistical performances, but the urgency and desire to be disciplined you'd come to expect from a team desperate to start putting something consistent together was one again non-existent. Oh well, such is life.
Ersan Ilyasova had his best scoring game in quite some time, dropping in a team-high 20p/6r on 6-15 shooting while knocking down a couple of threes (he had missed his previous 20 coming into tonight). However, his matador-inspired defense on David Lee (22p/18r) nullified any real effect he had on offense. But hey, 20 points is cool, right? I don't know what to feel anymore with Ers.
Brandon Knight added 18 points while O.J. Mayo and Khris Middleton chipped in with 13 and 10 points respectively, but the offense was one again rudderless and led to lots and lots of contested long twos late in the shot clock. Everyone was in on it, really. Even Larry Sanders was taking step back 18-foot jumpers. At one point, I was even expecting Larry Drew to check himself in just to get some attempts in from just inside the arc. There hasn't really been a rhyme or reason to a lot of the ''execution'' on that end of the floor most of the season it seems, but it looked especially awful when compared to Golden State's attack, and they weren't even that sharp tonight.
Larry Sanders and Giannis Antetokounmpo didn't have their strongest games, which is more of a bummer than anything because they were matched up against their positional skill set superiors in Andrew Bogut and Andre Iguodala. Bogut bodied Sanders around throughout the night, beating him to multiple rebounds and taking advantage of his frame to get some easy tip-ins off of missed shots. Iguodala shut most of Antetokounmpo's best offensive qualities down and put up a similar stat line with 11p/7r/5a, compared to 2p/5r/5a for Giannis. Both Sanders and Giannis have a long ways to come in their game (and for Larry, other areas), but if they can mirror or surpass the impact of their counterparts, they will be just fine. Lots and lots of work lies ahead, though.
The Bucks welcome the Luol Deng
and Andrew Bynum-less Chicago Bulls to town Friday, before heading on the road to play Oklahoma City and Toronto. Tonight's game included, the Bucks' opponents for the rest of this month have a combined record of 143-93. Buckle up.