The Bucks clawed back from a 40-24 deficit after one quarter, but after going back and forth for most of the second half, the Jazz turned the table in the fourth by rallying from a 103-92 deficit with 5:06 remaining to down the Bucks 114-110. Michael Redd led the Bucks with 26 but his shot selection in the final five minutes didn't earn him any fans tonight. Deron Williams torched the Bucks backcourt for 26 points and 13 assists.
- Charlie Bell. Bell's 29th birthday appeared headed for a nice ending, as his nine points keyed a 19-5 run in the first seven minutes of the fourth quarter. Things went downhill from there though, as he managed just one more forced jumper (missed) and two fouls in the final five minutes. Like Royal Ivey, he fouled out in the final minute and had five turnovers, but he also contributed 24 points (8/16 fg, 5/7 3fg) and five assists.
- Charlie Villanueva. Villanueva once again got off to a hot start, scoring 19 points on 8/11 fg in the first half. As has been typical of late he cooled off in the second half, going 3/8 from the field and scoring just seven points, but part of that can be attributed to Krystkowiak not playing him for most of the fourth quarter (more on that later). Interestingly, LK gave CV a rare look at SF with both Gadzuric/Ruffin (+10 in the second quarter) and Bogut/Gadzuric (+3 in the third/fourth)--and it worked pretty well. Final line: 26 points (11/19 fg), 9 rebounds, four TOs, two blocks.
- Andrew Bogut. After his big night yesterday, Bogut reverted back to being an offensive bystander in the first half, finishing without a basket. But he came out more energized in the second half and after missing a couple chippies he scored easily on two post moves at about the same time that he emphatically swatted Deron Williams and Andrei Kirilenko on the other end. He had a couple more big blocks in the fourth and finished with a workman-like 11 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks.
- 65%. Utah shot 65% in the first half and dished out 21 assists, yet another strong indicator of the defensive indifference the Bucks have shown all season, but especially lately. Watching the Bucks hustle and challenge shots early in the fourth quarter, it's sad to think how rarely we see that. When the Bucks make shots they can be a marginal defensive team for stretches, but especially when they miss--as was happening in the first quarter--they simply hemorrhage points in transition. And as bad as they are individually, the Bucks are probably even worse help defenders, meaning that patient teams that screen enough almost invariably get good looks at the hoop.
- 25/10. It might shock you, but those are CV's ppg and rpg over the last five games. On the one hand you love it, but on the other you wonder why he couldn't come close to producing like this when he was coming off the bench.
- 98. While the Bucks had the edge on the bench, the Jazz starters accounted for a whopping 98 points; yep, that's 19.6 points per starter. Aside from Williams' 26/13 night, Ronnie Brewer feasted on alley-oops and breakaway dunks for 21 points including 9/10 free throws. Carlos Boozer had his usual ho-hum 20/11 night, though he turned it over five times, while Okur continued his good play with 19/10. Kirilenko had "only" 12 but made 4/6 while dishing out six assists.
- Bench production. Following their no-show last night in Washington (10 points), the bench scored 38 with Bell, Gadzuric, Ruffin and Sessions each finishing at a +7 or better for the game. In contrast, the starters all had negative ratings.
- Those bigs keep putting up numbers. Following twin 20/10 nights yesterday, Bogut and Villanueva were at it again tonight with a combined 37 points, 24 boards and seven blocks. While I still feel Villanueva's extreme defensive ineptitude makes Yi (who's also got more years left on his rookie deal) a better long-term candidate for the PF position, the past week has been a pleasant reminder of Villanueva's potential. He's still only 23, so if he could just start drawing more fouls and begin to grasp what's going on defensively...oh, who am I kidding. While it's probably a longshot, Herb Kohl should force LK to play CV more at the three spot in the final month just to see if there's any hope of CV and Yi coexisting in the longer term. My guess is no, but wouldn't it have been nice to experiment with it in a game?
- Sessions plays!. Royal Ivey couldn't stay in front of Deron Williams and picked up three fouls (two offensive) in the first quarter for good measure, paving the way for Sessions to see nearly 10 minutes of action in the second quarter. While he didn't exactly lock down Williams, Sessions held his own defensively while scoring four points and dishing out three assists with zero turnovers. More importantly, he did some really crazy things like: show court vision and an ability to get the ball to guys so they could score. In fairness, Ivey had a better second half (before fouling out), but in the grand scheme of things there's really no good reason not to give Sessions more of Ivey's minutes. Especially with Williams out, Sessions is the only guard on the roster with any point guard instincts whatsoever.
- Late game blues. It's becoming a familiar story, but once again the Bucks wilted in the closing minutes, allowing a double-digit lead to predictably evaporate. If we're pointing fingers, the most obvious culprit would be Michael Redd. Redd had one assist tonight and didn't appear even aware of his teammates in the final five minutes, pounding the ball into oblivion while going 2/6 with a pair of FTs and a turnover. That doesn't look so bad on paper, but one was an uncontested layup off a great pass from Bogut and the other was a tough fadeaway when the Bucks were down four in the final seconds. Redd was blocked twice in the final 2:40, the second time triggering a fast break that led to Ronnie Brewer free throws and a two point Utah lead. Worse was that Villanueva appeared open and in Redd's line of vision, but Redd kept his head down and went for two instead.
- Where's CV?. Villanueva has shown a propensity for poor second halves during his recent surge, but he sat for too long in the fourth quarter, exiting at the 10 minute mark and not returning until 2:44 left in the game, by which time Utah had cut the lead to 105-102. Krystkowiak kept Michael Ruffin in the game because he was part of the unit that played good halfcourt defense and built the lead, but in the hindsight it's obvious he should have come back with Villanueva earlier. Instead the Bucks went dry from the field while their leading scorer on the night watched from the bench.
- Bobby's world. It's not a happy place right now. After an improved start to 2008, Bobby Simmons has played his way into LK's doghouse, getting a rare start tonight thanks to Desmond Mason's absence (day-to-day with a knee strain). He didn't make the most of the opportunity, however, collecting five fouls, two turnovers and zero points (0/3 fg) in only 13 minutes.