Don't blame the scrubs for this one--at the end of the day the Blazers' big guns simply outplayed the Bucks' starters, as LaMarcus Aldridge scored the last of his 29 points on an open baseline jumper with 2.4 seconds left that gave Portland a 103-101 win at the Bradley Center. Brandon Roy's 20 points and 10 assists weren't a shock, but Steve Blake's 21 points against his former club were certainly less expected.
- Michael Redd. Redd was somewhat quiet for most of the game until the Blazers capped a 14-0 run to take a 97-91 lead with two minutes remaining. Redd then scored the Bucks final 10 points, attacking the paint to score a trio of runners and tough layins. But he continued his recent penchant for missing late free throws when he missed the second of two free throws with 21 seconds left, leaving the game tied and setting up Aldridge's winner.
- Charlie Bell. Bell keyed an early fourth quarter along with Desmond Mason and Royal Ivey, scoring seven points in an 11-2 run that gave the Bucks an 89-81 edge with 7:41 left. He finished with 15 points, five assists and five rebounds in 28 minutes.
- Desmond Mason. Mason tallied 15 points, a team-high nine rebounds and four assists in 45 minutes. Unfortunately he was also responsible for five of the Bucks' nine turnovers.
- .545. We know the Bucks don't defend and tonight wasn't an exception, as every Blazer except Travis Outlaw shot 50% or better from the field.
- 41. Blake and Roy's combined point total was eye-opening only because Blake contributed the majority of it. Royal Ivey and company lost Blake time and again on defense, conceding open looks that paved the way for a 21-point, 8/15 shooting night. Roy's 20 point night also included those 10 dimes, none bigger than on the final possession when he drove right on Ivey, sucked in Bogut to help and found Aldridge on the right side for the deciding jumper.
- -13. Both Redd and Bogut shared the ignominy of the game's worst plus/minus rating, but they were symptomatic of the contrasting fortunes of both team's starting units. Every Bucks starter had a negative rating while every sub finished with a positive rating; meanwhile Portland's bench were all negatives and each starter aside from Pryzbilla finished as a positive. Martell Webster was the high man with a +19, in addition to his 17 points and seven boards.
- Striking the balance. With Mo Williams again out with an abdominal strain, the Bucks countered big nights from the Blazers' young stars (and Steve Blake) by getting double-digit scoring from six players.
- Cowboy up. While the Bucks' willingness to push the pace has often padded the scoring totals of Redd and Williams, perhaps no one has benefited more from the Bucks' occasional running than Desmond Mason. In March he's averaging 14.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg while shooting .583 from the field--not bad for the team's elder statesman. While his raw numbers are down, he's shooting a career-high .497 from the field and his PER has crept closer to average
- More ping-pong balls. You won't see me rooting against the Bucks for the sake of the lottery--sorry, I just can't do it--but let's be honest: we've reached the point of the season where every loss at least has a small silver lining.
- Aldridge owns Bogut. Bogut had a pedestrian 12/7 night, but it was his inability to stop Aldridge that had the greatest impact on the game. Krystkowiak wisely seemed intent on preventing Villanueva from defending Aldridge, but Bogut could never do much to challenge Aldridge's shot either. He mostly was rooted to the ground when Aldridge was elevating for his array of turnaround jumpers and hooks, avoiding fouls but giving Aldridge good enough looks to finish 14/20 from the field. Bogut's defense has generally been solid this year, but like the rest of his teammates, he's a far cry from a lock-down defender.
- Co-stanza!. We loved Ty's comparison of Royal Ivey to George Costanza so much that we're going to start calling Ivey "Costanza" from now on. As usual Royal ran around and got into his stance a lot, but he lost Steve Blake enough that the once-scorned Bucks backup PG tallied a depressing 21 points. No doubt the Bucks' defensive ineptitude is a team-effort, but make no mistake that Ivey isn't the defensive stalwart he's often been made out to be. Wouldn't we be better off giving Ramon Sessions his first glimpse of the NBA hardwood?
- Redd on the line. I remember once commenting in the late '90s that Ray Allen seemed to be the worst 85% free throw shooter in the league. I know, that makes no sense, but for some reason it seemed he missed a lot more than one out of every seven freebies. That's also been true of Redd lately, as he's now missed key late free throws against the Blazers, Spurs and Cavs--all in the span of 10 days. Tonight that one miss overshadowed what was otherwise a very clutch performance.