News/notes after the jump
Free Throw Line Blues. The Bucks' mind-boggling 0/7 finish from the line in Indy left a strangely bitter aftertaste to what was a crucial road win. The Bucks' problems at the line aren't anything new of course, but they've taken it to new
heights lows of late, as free throws were key ingredients of the Bucks' losses to both the Lakers and Kings last week. Charles Gardner spoke to the prime suspects, and the Bucks offered the cliched responses you expect:
"For me, it's just getting back into a rhythm of playing basketball, shooting my free throws," said Redd, who stayed after practice Tuesday to work on his foul shots with coaches Joe Wolf and Bill Peterson. "My first two looked good last night; my last two looked terrible.
"I'm going to get back to that; it's just a matter of time. Our team will as well. How you correct that is by practicing it. You don't want to shoot 500 free throws but shoot certain sets, put yourself in situations where there may be some pressure."
Bogut also termed the problem a "mental" one, but whatever the origin I'm not sure any of us are expecting sudden improvements from the Big Aussie. With the exception of 07/08 (when he improved by 1% over 06/07), Bogut's free throw percentage has fallen every season since his final season at Utah. He's down to a career-low 53.7% after a combined 6/15 the past two games, so even a return to the modest 60% mark would be a welcome sign.
Guarded optimism. You probably remember the Bucks' visit to the MCI Center last month as the Revenge of Lil' Earl. Boykins was the man down the stretch, scoring 11 of his 13 points (3/5 fg, 7/10 ft) in the last 10 minutes, and capping it off by drawing a foul on Jennings and stroking the clinching free throws. He scored 18 in last night's home win over the Sixers, though he'd managed just 11 points combined in his previous four.
But as scary as Earl may be, Gilbert Arenas is still the guy worth losing sleep over. Despite a sore hip that caused him to miss practice on Monday, Arenas has dropped 30+ in three of his last four games, including 31 last night and 45 against the Warriors (surprised?). In other words, he's finally looking like the Gilbert of '05-'07.
Redd watch. With the exception of the Lakers game a week ago, we haven't been able to say the same thing about Michael Redd. But Redd did show some positive signs in Indianapolis (5/12 fg, 2/3 3fg, 14 pts)---before leaving the aforementioned two free throws well short with the Bucks protecting their narrow lead in the final minute. An 84% career shooter from the line, Redd is now shooting just 55% from the line, 35% from the field and 31% from deep. He also committed a couple cheap fouls down the stretch, but the sloppy defense is at least something we're more used to. Despite all that, Redd still somehow managed to log a game-high and season-high 41 minutes. Doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me that Redd would see so much burn--for fitness as well as production reasons--but I'll give Skiles the benefit of the doubt for now.
Foye starting? Randy Foye's started the past two games next to Arenas, but the once-balleyhooed lottery pick in Minnesota has struggled to make an impact in Washington. Mike Prada at Bullets Forever writes that Foye has been slow to adjust to a new reality:
In Minnesota, they desperately pumped his psyche up and started him all the time, hoping that he would be a cornerstone like the guy they traded him for, Brandon Roy. They tried him at point guard and shooting guard, but they always gave him his guaranteed 35 minutes. They even gave him the ball with the game on the line, asking him to make the winning plays. In short, he was treated like a much bigger star than he was. Now, he comes to Washington, and he learns the ballad all reserve players learn. Life isn't fair.
Prada goes on to note that Foye is starting in the injured Mike Miller's spot mostly to keep Nick Young in his usual backup role. It's perhaps not surprising then that Young has played more minutes even in Foye's past two starts.
Small forward. Carlos Delfino remained in the starting lineup against the Pacers, shifting over to SF to make room for Redd, but it didn't seem like Skiles particularly wanted him on the court. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute got the call to replace Delfino less than three minutes into both the first and third quarters, as Delfino ended up scoreless on three shots. That's a far cry from Saturday night, when he led the Bucks with 17, including 11 in the fourth.
Delfino has started all 24 games he's played in this season, but given a) Mbah a Moute was significantly better than him against Indy b) the Wizards have the potent Butler/Jamison duo at the forward spots and c) Redd's presence *should* mitigate the need for a fourth three point threat in the starting lineup, Mbah a Moute seems the better lineup fit. Many of us have been rooting for a Mbah a Moute/Ilyasova starting forward combo since the summer, and Skiles was using that lineup before Redd was reinserted into the starting lineup. Stay tuned.