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Bucks 118, Sonics 106: Recap

The Bucks have been bad but the Sonics have been worse, and it showed in the Bucks' 118-106 win at the BC. With Mo Williams out with an abdominal injury and Michael Redd leaving in the third quarter, the Bucks' bigs were the story as Andrew Bogut and Charlie Villanueva combined for 53 points, 24 boards and six blocks. Kevin Durant was the only guy who seemed all that involved for the Sonics on offense and he finished with 23 (9/18 fg). Johan Petro brought his Gerard Depardieu lunchbox, racking up an 11 point, 15 rebound double-double.

Three Bucks

  • Charlie Villanueva. CV put up his gaudiest statline since becoming a Buck, posting a season-high 32 points along with 11 rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Contrary to what you might expect from a guy shooting 26% from distance, Villanueva came out guns blazing from mid- and long-range en route to 15 first quarter points, using some 15-18 footers to get going before he started pushing his luck from deep (3/3 in the first). By halftime he'd equaled his season-high of 21 points, and he had 32 through three before missing all four of his shots in the fourth. He wound up shooting just 12/26 from the field, but his hot start blew the game wide open as the Bucks turned a 16-14 Sonics lead into a 39-24 lead after one. His 32 points were the most he's scored since racking up 48 as a rookie against the Bucks in 2006, but it was a defensive effort that was probably his most impressive play of the night: with seconds remaining before halftime, he sprinted back to block Earl Watson from behind as time expired.
  • Andrew Bogut. The Sonics' interior defense didn't put up much resistance on either end and Bogut took full advantage. Bogut didn't get many post looks and was usually doubled when he did, but he picked his spots en route to (rather quietly) one of his best lines as a pro: 21 points (9/15 fg), 13 rebounds, seven assists, four blocks and two steals. Whether scoring off nice setups from teammates, getting putbacks, or cherry-picking for a couple breakaway dunks, Bogut got plenty of good looks without getting many one-one-one chances in the post. On the negative side: just one fourth quarter point on 1/4 from the charity strip (3/8 for the game).
  • Charlie Bell. While Bogut and Villanueva were laying an egg in the fourth quarter, Bell helped pick up the slack with Redd out, finishing with 17 points (7/14 fg), five assists and three steals. He stopped the bleeding when the Sonics had cut the lead to five and then sealed the game with a steal and breakaway dunk inside two minutes. Honorable mention to Desmond Mason, who made all four of his field goal attempts and also went 8/11 from the line for a high-energy 16 point effort.

Three Numbers

  • 36. The Bucks set a season high with their 36 assists, 22 of which came in their 69-point first half. Fittingly, the Bucks' unselfishness was a team effort, as Ivey, Redd and Bogut all had seven assists while Bell added five off the bench. The prettiest of the night had to be Redd's around-the-back bounce pass that gave VNuv a layup; we noted a couple weeks ago that Redd's been showing a startling willingness of late to pass in odd man rush situations, so keep it up, Mike.
  • 118. The Sonics like to play up-tempo but the Bucks brought their track shoes as well, scoring season-highs of 69 in the first half and 118 for the game. The Bucks outscored the Sonics 21-14 off turnovers for the game and made 7/15 triples in the first half (vs. the Sonics' 0/1).
  • 4. The Bucks' let another blowout get close in the final minutes when the Sonics cut the lead to 107-102 with three minutes remaining, but they pulled it together down the stretch to tally just their fourth double-digit win of the season.

Three Good

  • The old frontcourt of the future. Remember when Bogut/Villanueva was the big man combo the Bucks were going to ride for the rest of the decade? Yeah, maybe we were all naive about that, but you could have been fooled tonight. The pair combined for 37 points and 14 boards in the first half alone on the way to 53 and 24 for the game.
  • Easy buckets. The Bucks' formula for success was simple: run when you can and keep the ball moving in the halfcourt. A season high in points and assists were the outcome, though it had as much or more to do with the Sonics' being bad as the Bucks playing well. Seattle's offensive ineptitude created plenty of chances to get out and run, while their subpar halfcourt defense allowed the Bucks to find plenty of open looks on the perimeter and get plenty of chances down low as well.
  • Point guard of the future? Mike Ruffin had six boards and three assists (!) in just under eight minutes, the most dimes he's dropped since he had three on November 12, 2006. It sure would have been nice to see Ramon Sessions make his NBA debut, but screw it, we can probably just let Ruffin run the show from here on out.

Three Bad

  • Lacerated nose. We've never had one, but we'd guess they're not fun. Michael Redd can attest to that after leaving the game with a busted grill in the third quarter. In a strange play, Redd was called for a foul while jostling with Durant down low, who inadvertently raked the Bucks' leading scorer across the nose. Redd walked off with a towel covering his face and didn't return.
  • Drama queens. For the first 42 minutes or so I was preparing to write about how nice it was to win a game where a Bucks' victory was never really in doubt. We haven't been able to say that since the first week of November when the Bucks beat the Raptors by 27 at the BC; sad but true. With Mo and Redd out the Bucks ran out of ideas offensively in the fourth quarter, especially with the Sonics making shots and not giving away easy transition buckets. The Sonics closed to within 107-102 with three minutes remaining, but after a timeout Bogut fed Bell for a reverse layin and the Sonics ran out of gas offensively thereafter.
  • Poison Ivey. OK, so that pun is probably too harsh. Royal Ivey wasn't particularly bad tonight--tough to complain about 9/7 with just one turnover given he's not all that talented. But it's been increasingly pointed out lately that Ivey's supposed tough defense might be something of a mirage given how often he gets flat-out beat on that end, and he showed that a couple times tonight with some matador efforts against Earl Watson (17 points and eight assists). He has the highest foul rate among Bucks guards and picked up another four tonight.