MILWAUKEE -- The first offensive sequence (sequence almost implies too much order, this was pure chaos) of the game for the Bucks hinted at what was to come, but the result did not foretell the final story.
To open the night, Andrew Bogut missed a hook, and grabbed his own rebound. Then he tried again and was blocked by Ben Wallace, as Carlos Delfino hauled in the rebound. Then Brandon Jennings missed a jumper, and Bogut gathered the miss and missed the tip-shot, gathered again and missed again. Then Luc Mbah a Moute got the board and finally Charlie Bell sank a jumper.
All five Bucks were a part of that first play that led to a hoop.
Unfortunately, the missed shots foreshadowed the evening, not the eventual basket.
After the Indiana game, I wrote about the pleasure derived from reasonably expecting Milwaukee to win games against the Indianas and Detroits of the basketball world. Is that what the Bucks thought too? If there is anything Milwaukee has been better at than beating inferior opponents, it is beating inferior opponents at home. But for the first time in a long time in such a situation, they played more liked they expected to win than they played to win.
From 93-81 to 81-93 in two nights flat. So, so flat.
The kind of game that made you want to turn the channel, only it was happening in front of you. There were no other teams in the Bradley Center, and you care about the Bucks too much anyway.
They came back from a 20-9 first quarter trouncing, all the way back to lead in the third quarter. But just like the start so too the Bucks finished in bad form, as Rodney Stuckey bullied Brandon Jennings, Jason Maxiell made you wonder why Jason Maxiell isn't awfully good, Ben Gordon found his fourth quarter groove, and Milwaukee brought out the best in all of the talented individuals who typically comprise a poor Detroit team.
Deemed inadmissible on any NBA court, this was a performance you wish to strike from the record altogether. The good news is that while this game was very much on the record, it will only count on the record the same as all the others.
Charlie Bell. Charlie stood out by not standing out. No memorably silly plays or absurd shot attempts. Unlike most everyone else on the team, for whatever reason, Bell played like he was on his home court against bad team, and he played more than anyone else -- 40 minutes -- offering steady, not spellbinding work.
A very reasonable 15/3/1 line on 5-8 shooting for Bell in this, one of the true follies of the basketball year.
Luc Mbah a Moute. A more typical Prince points sum of nine following his offensive outburst against Indiana, but 4-8 from the field will do. That is what the team wants, needs -- that modest offensive output -- and he delivered. Not a standout defensive performance like we've seen, but he was active, gathering 11 rebounds, six on the offensive glass.
Andrew Bogut. He entered the game shooting a can't-miss 64.2 % from the field in February. So Andrew's 0-8 start gave me a headache. And I don't get headaches. Shots off the side of the backboard, consecutive misses within inches of the rim, eternally bothered, like he was going against the Defensive Player of the Year. But it was just Ben Wallace.
Then 'Drew wised up, realized it wasn't 2002 or 2003 or 2005 or 2006 and thus he wasn't facing the Defensive Player of the Year. And while I'm loathe to cite double-doubles (10/10 good, 36/8 no good) he had double-double by halftime, with 11 points and 10 rebounds thanks to a 5-6 shooting second quarter. But that money quarter wasn't enough, as the Bucks only made up four points.
And all did not end well for Bogut, who missed his first eight, made his next five, and then missed five of his final eight. In all 17 points on an uncharacteristic 21 shot attempts, though his +4 differential in 34 minutes suggests the team did just fine with him on the court and rather miserably with him off.
21. The Bucks hauled in 21 offensive rebounds, quite a sum. But the 52 missed shots made them possible, and too often the offensive rebounds resulted in those aforementioned missed shots, a viciously cruel and unsatisfying cycle chronicled more in the next Number.
Milwaukee's work on the offensive boards was largely negated by Detroit's 17 offensive rebounds of their own, as Jason Maxiell (6) and Jonas Jerebko (5) were too much to handle.
16.0 % Milwaukee shot 4-25 (.160) in the first quarter, a real grind that produced nine points. Nine players contributed to the madness, and it looked as bad as the numbers look.
A rather ridiculous 10 offensive rebounds in the quarter for the Bucks in the first quarter alone, and we need a statistician/historian to find the last time a team had more offensive rebounds than points in a quarter. Or let's just forget about this.
41.7 % and 82.4 % Someone perhaps forgot to notify the game's participants that Detroit was the worst three-point shooting team in the whole NBA (29.2 %) and the 27th ranked free throw shooting team (72.1 %) of all. How else to explain the hot numbers from distance (41.7 %) and at the stripe (82.4 %)?
Rarity. Milwaukee isn't that long on talent, and they have a pretty short list of bad performances this season. And even in this poor performance, they made a nice little comeback.
It's over. Mercifully.
Only a day away. The Bucks depart from cold, snowy Wisconsin to cold, snowy New Jersey tomorrow (it gets better from here) where they have the fortune of playing the Nets, who have not turned Izod Center into a massive home court advantage. They are 3-20 at home. Just don't lose that one, team.
1st Quarter. Foreshadowing the evening as a whole, it all went wrong for the first 12 game minutes, the first 21 real-time, really excruciating minutes.
Brogut (Brandon and Bogut) combined to shoot 1-13. The team tried awfully hard to make Tayshaun Prince and Richard Hamilton (both shooting 39 % from the field coming in) supremely relevant again, no easy feat. Perhaps more impressively/unimpressively, they turned clean-cut rookie Jonas Jerebko into the Swedish reincarnate of Dennis Rodman early on.
20-9 after twelve, and a rather deplorable start for the fans who roughed it into the BC, good sports that they may be.
Not much in reserve. A lot of plaudits for the bench this season, for a lot of reasons.
But the Bucks got beat up when the bench was not on the bench, to the tune of a composite -50 differential. That was in stark contrast to Detroit's reserves, Jason Maxiell and Ben Gordon in particular, who torched Milwaukee all through the eve.
Luke Ridnour (7 points, 0 assists, 2 turnovers on 2-6 shooting) can score 16 points for the Nets tomorrow night -- for the Nets tomorrow night -- and his pre-All-Star break run will still register as a smashing success. He has been fantastic overall, the trouble is that the percentages had to start evening out just a little, and we are bearing witness to that now.
Meanwhile, Ersan Ilyasova fit nicely into the theme of grabbing offensive rebounds (3 in 9 minutes) that went for naught, as the Turk totaled zero points but managed to fit in a -16 differential in nine minutes. It's been assumed that Jennings would hit a wall due to his age, inexperience, and perhaps most of all because he is coming off a year in Europe which was grueling in its own way, but not comparable with respect to the travel and number of games of an NBA season. Is it possible that Ilyasova (who, like Jennings, played in Europe last year and thrived in November) is doomed to suffer similarly?
Fellow power forward also deemed incapable of starting at power forward Hakim Warrick shot 1-4 and turned the ball over four times in 14 mostly miserable minutes off the bench.
Number 9. Six, seven, eight, the Bulls, Bobcats, and Heat all won tonight.