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Recap: Bucks 94, Knicks 86

Less than 24 hours after losing their home opener, the Bucks were on the road and winning for a second straight time away from the BC, downing the Knicks 94-86 at MSG.  It was all about balance for the Bucks, who shared the ball well and got between 13 and 18 points from all five of their starters in addition to Luc Richard Mbah a Moute's first career double-double (11 points, 10 boards).  Bogut and Villanueva brought the energy early, while Jefferson, Mbah a Moute, and Sessions brought it late, allowing the Bucks to ward off a modest Knick rally in the fourth.  Quentin Richardson was the only Knick who seemed awake for much of the night, hitting five triples en route to 28 points and nine boards. The only downside?  Watching Mike Redd head to the lockerroom after turning his right ankle in a midcourt scrum for a looseball.

Three Bucks

  • Luc. Last night I said that the box score didn't fully reflect his impact on the game; tonight that wasn't an issue.  The Prince calmly stroked a few jumpers on his way to 11 points (4/6 fg) in addition to his 10 boards, three assists, two steals, and no turnovers in 35 minutes.  
  • Ramon Sessions.  Sessions again played big minutes (43) and produced a nice line: 18 points,  seven boards, eight assists, and three steals to offset five turnovers.  But unlike last night against Jose Calderon, he didn't concede monster numbers to his counterparts--which should be expected since the Knicks don't have anyone like Jose Calderon.  Chris Duhon just isn't very good, but it's worth remembering that he had a career game in that Bucks/Bulls game in April when Sessions put up his 20/24 line.  This time around Duhon wasn't a factor (six points, three assists), though Nate Robinson (14 points, four boards, five dimes, five TOs) used his quickness to give Sessions some problems.  Still, Sessions showed poise throughout and got to the rack with ease on a number of occasions.  Aside from his defensive lapses, he's also shown a penchant for needlessly picking up his dribble and he's so averse to shooting that teams will increasingly dare him to shoot from the perimeter. 
  • Andrew Bogut.  Richard Jefferson could just as easily get the nod here, as both guys could have been better but made positive impacts at different stages.  Bogut set the tone early, using his size to keep David Lee in seemingly perpetual foul trouble and score 10 points by halftime.  The Knicks finally caught on and started doubling Bogut at every turn in the second half, which explains why he added only three more points in the second half.  He also grabbed 11 boards to help the Bucks take a 48-41 edge there, and blocked three shots in addition to taking a pair of charges (like usual).

Three Numbers

  • 36.  The Knicks were trigger-happy from distance all night, attempting three dozen triples--44.44% of their total attempts for the night.  But while the D'Antoni mindset is alive and well in NYC, the Knicks were firing blanks for most of the night and needed Richardson's fourth quarter barrage to get up to 33% efficacy from deep.
  • 60%.  While the Knicks couldn't shoot from distance much of the night, the Bucks decided to do their bricklaying from the line.  While getting 12 more free throw attempts is a good thing, the Bucks' wastefulness meant they had just a +4 advantage in terms of conversions from the charity stripe.  Bogut was the most obvious culprit, misfiring on four of five.
  • 1.  The Knicks set a new season-high with one block tonight, which gives you some idea of how soft their interior defense is.  While they're great on the glass, David Lee and Zach Randolph just can't slow down opposing bigs, nor do they erase mistakes by perimeter defenders.

Three Good

  • Road Warriors.  The Bucks will have to be just that to survive the next month; so far, so good.  Sure, the Knicks and Thunder aren't exactly juggernauts, but the Bucks were due for some early season growing pains of their own.  So while we won't complain about a win either way, it's been encouraging to see the Bucks not only win two of their first three on the road, but more or less control both games throughout. 
  • Young Bucks.  LRMaM's emergence has already been well-documented, but it's been encouraging to see Scott Skiles hand the keys to Ramon Sessions this weekend as well.  While his game is still uneven, particular on defense, Sessions brings the sort of unselfishness that pefectly complements the scoring firepower in the Bucks' starting lineup.  It will be interesting to see how Skiles juggles his lineup now that Sessions has handled the starting job with reasonable success--needless to say it'd be rather surprising if Sessions isn't at least the backup once Ridnour returns.  Last but not least, Joe Alexander--the Bucks' "other" rookie--made his season debut, missing a desperation heave at the end of the first quarter and misfiring on a perimeter jumper in the second half.
  • D'ing Up.  As a Bucks fan, I've become conditioned to assume that opponents only score under a 100 because they missed too many open looks, and there was certainly a bit of luck involved with the Knicks' poor shooting night (37%).  However, I'll cautiously say that there's a fair bit of defense being played as well.  Most notably, close-outs seem to be happening more quickly and Buck defenders seem to be helping each other out with much more effectiveness than in previous years.   Let's hope it's a trend that continues.

Three Bad

  • Redd alert.  We don't know anything yet about Michael Redd's right ankle injury, but judging by the way he got up and walked around without assistance, it's hopefully not too bad.  Still, the Bucks lack of depth gives them little margin for error, and losing their leading scorer for any period of time would be a major blow early in the season.
  • Potsie debuts!  This isn't really bad so much as hilarious: the nickname given to Joe Alexander by the Bucks' RealGM board has officially gained traction.  We know because Mike Breen used the term during tonight's broadcast and said Alexander's teammates have taken to calling him that, though he didn't reveal the original source.  Of course, the fact that a RealGM joke has caught on with the Bucks is awesome, but the unfortunate part is what inspired the nickname in the first place.  "Potsie" refers to Warren "Potsie" Weber, the character from Happy Days.  And what does that have to do with Joe Alexander?  Well, during Joe's uninspiring run of summer league play there was considerable doom and gloom at RealGM about the Bucks' newest lotto pick, so board moderator PP25 made the comparison to Potsie.  As for why, Wikipedia has your answer:
    One of the characters main traits was his inability to play Basketball with any semblance of talent. Because of this, and because of the shows popularity, his name entered into the vernacular. In other words, an extremely poor basketball shot is known as "a potsie weber."
    I'd say even if Joe becomes a superstar he'll be stuck with that nickname. Sorry, Joe.
  • Charity Stripe Woes.  The game could have been a bit more comfortable had the Bucks been less wasteful from the stripe.  And while I won't worry much about Richard Jefferson (5/9 ft), the fact that Bogut has started the season 4/11 from the line is a bit of a cause for concern.  His mechanics don't look bad, but the pessimist might easily conclude that he is on his way to yet another underachieving season at the line.