Early in the season the Bucks always had a knack for making bad games look respectable in the final box score; at the very least their scrubs worked harder and less selfishly than their oppponents'. In New Orleans they looked thoroughly outclassed and out of depth for about 44 minutes, trailing by 17 deep into garbage time. But...
"It's the NBA. Everybody makes a run."
Defying most everything we'd seen up until that point, the Bucks rang off six straight threes as part of 22-4 run in the final 4 minutes, culminating in Charlie Bell's corner triple that gave the Bucks a 94-93 edge with 10 seconds remaining. Unfortunately, rebounding, the Bucks' achilles heel since the loss of Andrew Bogut, once again came back to haunt them as Tyson Chandler tipped in the game-winner with three seconds left after Keith Bogans had forced a David West miss. With the Bucks having used all their timeouts, Luke Ridnour could only launch a desperation heave from about 40 feet as time expired.
As you'd expect, Chris Paul was the story for the Hornets, though he mostly played distributor with 20 assists, seven boards and nine points. West was the most obvious beneficiary with 28 (11/19 fg) and 12 boards, but he also turned it over six times. Part of the Bucks' problem defensively was that they resigned themselves to mismatches for much of the night. Luc Mbah a Moute started out guarding Paul, a tactic we've seen the Bucks use previously against Rodney Stuckey and Chauncey Billups. Mbah a Moute wasn't bad but he couldn't keep Paul in front of him enough, allowing Paul to spot open teammates throughout the first half.
That also left Sessions struggling to challenge shots by the much taller Rasual Butler (17 pts), and Mbah a Moute's perimeter job saw Charlie Villanueva struggling to check West. In the end, the Hornets missed enough threes (4/21) to make the Bucks' defense look less than horrible, but they spent much of the night chasing their tails as Paul dribbled pretty much wherever he wanted.
Overall there really wasn't anyone who had a particularly good night for the Bucks. Charlie Bell was probably the most visible Buck, scoring 11 of his 21 points in final 130 seconds, but Bell had struggled up until that point and still finished only 7/18 from the field. Richard Jefferson (22 pts) was probably the most consistent, doing his best to attack on a night when the Bucks seemed a bit gunshy. But his outside shot wasn't working and he finished just 8/19 from the field in addition to four turnovers. Sessions was subdued (4/10 fg, eight pts, four rebs, two assists in 23 minutes) and sat for most of the second half after watching the Hornets go up by as many as 21. Villanueva missed all three of his triples, and when that part of his game is off then you can't expect him to score inside enough to make up for it. His 13 points and seven boards aren't bad, but West badly outplayed him most of the night.
Ridnour was solid and made 4/6 threes en route to 14 points in 28 minutes, spurring the Bucks to close within 10 early in the fourth. He ironically was on the bench for most of the Bucks' late comeback, however, as Skiles put in Damon Jones at the 3:32 mark, no doubt hoping to save his regulars for tonight's game against Washington. On a positive note, neither Bucks PG turned it over.