At least the game is over, right? The banged up Bucks faced off against an another banged up team in the Celtics tonight, but one team played like they were missing their guys and one didn't. The Celtics pulled away in the fourth quarter half behind solid performances from Jeff Green (29 points), Kelly Olynyk (14p/11r, his first career double-double), and Jared Sullinger (13p/10r) and left the Bucks in their dust in a 102-86 defeat. We're only at game #51, and yet the Bucks have already assured themselves of a losing season.
The game went back-and-forth in an incredibly uninteresting way through the first three quarters, but when the Bucks stopped making shots, fell flat with their energy levels, and continued to not put a lid on turning the ball over (21 turnovers on the night), the Celtics finally grabbed hold and put the game out of reach. You can't do much in the way of getting stops when the opponent is getting easy baskets in transition, and Larry Drew was quick to address how much of a problem that was.
"They scored 32 points off of the turnovers. You just can't turn the basketball over; it just puts you in such a dilemma. We had turnovers that we just couldn't recover from. When I say recover, I mean, they were at the top of the floor and they were just getting the ball, taking the lane, and taking it to the other end. We hurt [ourselves] with turnovers tonight."
"We didn't want to give them any easy baskets. We had to take care of the basketball and make sure that we were able to get our defense set yet we just turned the basketball over. It just put us in such a dilemma."
Brandon Knight struggled the most with turnovers, and at times it seemed he was a participant in a turnover skills challenge. He would rifle a pass into the direct line of a Celtics defender, or he would whistle one of a big man's knees. I even think there was one turnover created when he whiffed on a one-hand push pass, so he basically created a turnover off the dribble. Impressive. Knight did have 22p/5r/4a, but it's hard to be enthused by that performance when the five turnovers were so noticeable.
John Henson had a productive night on offense, putting in 16 points on 8-12 shooting. He even added two (!!) right-handed hook shots in the third quarter that didn't look rigid or uncomfortable or anything. He was on his way to having an encouraging night until late in the fourth quarter when he came down on Zaza Pachulia's foot and came away limping badly. Henson had to leave early to head to the locker room, where he told reporters that he thought it was more of a right foot issue than an ankle issue. Henson said he'll see how the foot reacts tomorrow, but I can't imagine we'll see him before the All-Star Break, just like his tube men contemporary Larry Sanders.
Speaking of Zaza, the guy was a tornado of Georgian demolition equipment tonight. He struggled to put up decent numbers (8p/8r), but BOY DID HE LEAVE HIS MARK ON THE GAME/OTHER PEOPLE'S BODIES. When he wasn't thwacking Brandon Bass in the face or being in the wrong area of Henson's unfortunate landing, Pachulia was zazaing all over the place, usually finding himself tangled up on the floor with almost every available Celtic. There was one point in the third quarter where he was honestly sprawled out on top of Jeff Green like Green was a high-priced Tempur-Pedic bed or something. In a game full of ugly, Zaza perhaps was the ugliest, but damn was it beautiful.
Gary Neal had 17 points on 6-11 shooting. As much as I would like to make a joke here, he did provide some pretty okay looking offense for most of the night. Kudos to Neal, or something.
Khris Middleton picked up two fouls in his first nine minutes of action, and was immediately banished to Azkaban for doing so, it seems. Larry Drew had a reputation for sitting guys who pick up quick fouls like that--and Middleton didn't necessarily stop fouling once he got back in--but it was very odd to see one of the Bucks best shooters ride pine for that long.
Giannis, who was sporting some tape on his right wrist, seems to have really hit that rookie wall of late. He had four points on 1-5 shooting in just 26 minutes. Like everyone else on this roster, the few days off that are coming up will do wonders for them.
The Bucks could seriously have only three true big men available for their last game on Wednesday before the All-Star Break. The good news is that their Wednesday opponent, the New Orleans Pelicans, don't have any real threats on the interior that will punish the Bucks bigs.
*checks Pelicans roster*
Oh god, no.