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Rockets 104 Bucks 88: Recap

The Rockets topped the Bucks 104-88 Friday night. As far as the three Bucks' losses go, this one was the easiest to take because they didn't look overwhelmed against a team that figures to overwhelm a lot of teams.

Three Bucks:

  1. Yi Jianlian. Pleased China and pleased Milwaukee with excellent second half showing.
  1. Mo Williams. Sputtered and frustrated down the stretch, but still came up just short of a triple double with 10 points, nine rebounds, and nine assists.
  1. Michael Redd. On a night when the three's weren't falling (0-7) he did what he was supposed to do, and what other Bucks can't seem to do: get to the line and hit free throws (10-10).

Three Numbers:

  1. Number of points scored by the Bucks' bench, none of which came from Bobby Simmons, Dan Gadzuric, or Michael Ruffin.
  1. Mo Williams' minutes played.

92.3. Percent the Rockets shot from the free throw line (24-26).

Three Good:

  1. Although it should always be the case, Mo Williams inspired confidence with the ball in his hands.  For the second game in a row he orchestrated the offense rather than just serving as another cog in it.  His solid 3/1 assist-to-turnover ratio against the Rockets backs that up, but his purposeful dribbling and pacing don’t show up in the box score.  The Rockets play a controlled, smart game and thanks to Williams the Bucks looked like a worthy foe.
  1. The Bucks played solid team defense, a real necessity on a team lacking individual defensive standouts.  Going up against the team with the most prolific inside-outside duo in the NBA is no easy task.  Still the Bucks relied on their defense to hang around on a night when not all of their shots were falling like they were against the Raptors.
  1. Yi took some time to find his groove, but once he did he looked like one of the best players on a court that featured some serious talent.  His second half performance was something to behold, showing off his defensive footwork, outside shooting, and even some toughness down low.  It’s hard not to get excited about Yi, and the summer hassle to secure his services is looking pretty worthwhile now.

Three Not-So-Good:

  1. The bench struggled to contribute, especially discouraging when compared to the extra help the Rockets got.  Whereas Bonzi Wells helped carry the Rockets out of the Bucks' reach in the fourth quarter, Charlie Bell, Charlie Villanueva, Bobby Simmons, and company failed to leave their mark on the game.  Simmons’ lack of production and playing time is most worrisome.  If Simmons really is the team’s "wild card," as many thought before the year, the Bucks might be in trouble.  Who would have thought that he would go from probable starter before the season to tenth man in the fifth game of the year?
  1. The slow starts by Andrew Bogut and Yi plagued the Bucks in a couple ways.  First, Bogut’s two quick fouls resulted in him spending more time on the bench than on the floor in the first half, inevitable given his admirably aggressive but sort of flailing effort.  This helped Yao Ming assert himself in the post, straining the Bucks’ entire team defensive effort.  Without Bogut in the game Yao didn’t have to work as hard defensively and also capitalized on the more open opportunities on the offensive glass, grabbing four offensive rebounds in the first half.  Second, neither Bogut nor Yi scored a single point in the paint in the first half and along with Gadzuric combined for just two points in that span.  Obviously the Bucks are perimeter-oriented offensively, but establishing something, anything down low makes the game a lot easier for everyone else- just ask the Rockets around Yao.
  1. Where has the outside shooting gone?  Yi hit a couple from downtown but the rest of the team combined to shoot 2-16 on three's. Obviously Redd gets a pass because he's earned the right to keep on firing, but a couple more conversions would have made it a lot more interesting down the stretch.