Sixers win! Sixers win!
While the shorthanded Bucks were losing their franchise-record-tying 62nd game in Chicago on Friday night, the bigger news for Bucks fans was arguably coming from Boston, where Philadelphia's 111-102 win over the Celtics moved Sam Hinkie's tank battalion three wins ahead of Milwaukee in the race for the top seed in the draft lottery. That means the Bucks will now need three wins in their final six games just to have a chance of tying Philadelphia for the worst record in basketball--a feat they've managed just once this season.
As for the Bucks' latest loss? Not a bad effort, but the Bucks simply made too many mistakes early and ultimately didn't have the bodies or ammunition to pull off a fourth quarter comeback. Twenty turnovers and 16 Chicago offensive rebounds allowed the Bulls to tally 16 more shot attempts and seven more free throw attempts on the evening, which was more than enough to offset the Bucks' 46% to 37% shooting advantage. The Bucks started slowly and trailed by 12 after one quarter, 16 at half and 20 after three quarters, but generally moved the ball better in the second half before using a 15-1 fourth quarter run to narrow Chicago's lead to 85-77. But the Bulls repelled
For Chicago it was predictably all about defensive pressure (read: all those turnovers) and offensive balance. Seven Bulls scored between 11 and 17 points, with Joakim Noah (11 points, 13 rebounds, 5 assists) and Carlos Boozer (14 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists) double-doubling for a Chicago frontline that killed the Bucks with second chance points. But with Noah and Boozer combining to miss 22 of 30 shots and turning it over six times, you could make a good case that Jeff Adrien (21 points, 9/12 fg, 9 rebs, 3 blocks) and Zaza Pachulia (13 pts, 5/10 fg, 9 rebs, 3 ast) actually outplayed their Bulls counterparts for much of the night.
The tough part for the Bucks: depth. Milwaukee dressed just eight players and effectively played with a seven-man rotation until the game's final minute, relying heavily on the attacking of Brandon Knight (22 points on 8/17 fg) to complement the inside work of Pachulia and Adrien. Unfortunately for Larry Drew, there wasn't much to speak of beyond that trio.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo's first shot of the game was a drive left for a nice finish, but he would miss his next five shots in the first half. A number of them were pretty good looks, but he's still struggling to finish--AND IT'S DRIVING ME CRAZY. This is the hard part about watching a team where your main rooting interest is a 19-year-old kid.
Giannis didn't take a single shot in the second half, though he did draw a foul (and hit both free throws) on a pull-up jumper out of a pick and roll. He also managed to do a bunch of other stuff, both good and not so good. Two blocks, three steals (all of the "you can't throw passes over my 90-foot wingspan" variety), and a game-high and season-high-tying five assists were the good. The bad: three turnovers, a couple shaky blow-bys defensively and his second foul out of the season.
- Larry Drew admitted after the game that he relied too much on Pachulia tonight and suggested he would have to lean more heavily on Henson against Toronto on Saturday. Yes...please. Despite being the only big man available off the bench, Henson played just 19 minutes tonight.
- It was a testy night with the officials, as the teams combined for 77 free throws and Brandon Knight and Khris Middleton each picked up technicals. Middleton's came for intervening after Knight and D.J. Augustin were caught in a scrum, while Knight was dinged for complaining to the officials in the fourth quarter. Noah also picked up a T for the Bulls.
- Larry Sanders was on the Bucks bench hours after he was suspended for five games for violating the NBA's marijuana policy, and offered up some interesting quotes on his beliefs regarding the drug after the game. I'm sure we'll be hearing more about this...