The Bucks continue to find new and interesting ways to lose basketball games, blowing the double-digit lead they held through most of the game to lose 91-88 to the struggling Knicks (recap / video). Worst loss of the season? Hmm, so difficult to choose between this one and the Philly game. This one definitely is definitely more gut-wrenching. The Bucks led by 12 going into the fourth, and then promptly were outscored 26-11 thanks to equal parts clutch play from Jamal Crawford and miserable offensive play of their own. OK, maybe more of the latter. Rob Peterson at NBA.com live-blogged the game. Knee-jerk reactions:
- Everything was going well for three quarters, as the Bucks led by double digits after each period, leading by as many as 16. The Knicks were booed from time to time, but when Stephon Marbury left with shoulder spasms in the second half they suddenly started to figure things out.
- Down the stretch the Bucks set team offense back into the stone age with the get-the-ball-to-Redd-and-watch offense they perfected late in games last year. It worked a couple times, but then it just became Redd jacking up off-balance 20-25 footers. Basically all the great all-around play from Redd that we saw for the first month vanished. Zero intention of passing. After watching his teammates blow their big lead he clearly had no confidence in them, and they looked happy to run screens for Redd and wait for him to shoot. Is it Redd's fault, his teammates' fault, Krystkowiak's fault? I don't know, take your pick. But it's ugly and everything that the Bucks have said they wanted to get away from.
- Bogut single-handedly kept the Bucks in the game late by drawing a number of offensive fouls and blocking three shots. Not just barely-get-a-finger-on-it blocks either. Huge, get-that-shi*-out-of-here type blocks. It's incredible how he's just flipped the switch and become a legit shot-blocker. Unfortunately the Bucks were doing nothing offensively, but huge credit to Bogut for at least making the Knicks work to claim their inevitable lead. The Bucks did very little to keep Bogut involved offensively, however: 5/6 fg and no fta tells you the offense is not spreading the ball around correctly.
- The Bucks did alright against the Curry/Randolph combo, as Randolph had 25 but Curry scored just 7 on 2/4 shooting. Curry look as bloated as ever; he may have eaten Jerome James for all I know.
- When the Knicks struggled it was because of their stagnant offense, either watching their bigs try to get position or Marbury trying to get his shot. That's the problem with building your team effectively around two big post guys who don't pass well; the Knicks frequently spend a big chunk of the shot clock trying to locate those guys, and if you deny them the ball then Marbury ends up just looking for his own shot.
- Yi had a couple aggressive moves but like everyone else not named Redd he was an afterthought late on the offensive end. He also wound up being a major liability on the glass (two rebounds), as he allowed his man to collect a number of offensive rebounds in the fourth.
- Desmond Mason rebounded from some rough outings lately to put up 15/6 on 6/10 fg. He was among the key guys early as the Bucks built their lead.
- Aside from Bogut, the starters still got their minutes, but it certainly seemed like the bench was out there too long in the fourth. Not that the starters' offense was much better, but the bench was outplayed for the second game in a row. Bogut was held out of the entire second quarter for whatever reason (he did pick up two fouls in the first), so he only played 30 minutes. Would have been nice to see him on the court for all of the fourth given the stagnant play of the Bucks' bench. He came back with nine minutes left after the Knicks had cut the lead to 7.
- The whole "bomb squad" concept probably needs to be re-examined right now, as there simply aren't enough guys playing well to justify eleven guys getting into the game. I know it's early and LK's giving everyone a chance to play to see what they can do, but it certainly looks like they need to shorten the bench. Having another game tomorrow might certainly have been part of the rationale, but I'm not sure the Bucks can afford to be thinking about tomorrow when trying to win games today.