For a time, it looked like Monta Ellis might make history tonight. He's probably glad he didn't.
The Bucks turned in their worst offensive performance of the season Wednesday night, bricking their way to 35% shooting behind the frequent misfires of Brandon Jennings (26 pts, 9-26 FG) and Ellis, who threatened the NBA record for consecutive missed shots for much of the night. That auspicious honor, held by five-time All-Star and gold-medalist Tim Hardaway, stands at 0-17. Ellis ran up 13 consecutive misses before dropping in a mostly uncontested finger roll with 2:30 remaining in the game. He was promptly benched. The Twitter reaction from Bucks Nation was appropriate:
Bucks nation reacts to Ellis' first basket. twitter.com/brewhoop/statu…— Frank Madden (@brewhoop) December 20, 2012
I apologize for my overzealous vowel usage. It robbed you of more excellent tweets in that screenshot, which I can assure you shared the same self-loathing sentiment.
That Jennings actually managed to rack up 26 points is something of a stunner, given the frequency with which he and his fellow lead guard clanged the rims of FedEx Forum. We can talk all we want about the Bucks frontcourt rotations and what-not, but the formula for victory remains largely the same day in, day out:
Crazy how simple everything is. If Milwaukee's going to be good, they need the two guys who shoot a lot to make a lot. But they haven't.— Jeremy Schmidt (@Bucksketball) December 20, 2012
Strangely, the Grizzlies didn't overwhelm Milwaukee's defense like in the first meeting. Milwaukee's 94.3 defensive rating (HoopData formulation) was actually quite good, and Memphis' starters actually shot pretty poorly. But the Grizz dominated the glass, led by 17 Z-bounds for Z-Bo. Of course, the rebounding opportunities were good and plentiful.
Milwaukee now has a day off to regroup before the third game of their four-in-five stretch. It doesn't seem possible for Jennings and Ellis to shoot like this again, but right now the high volume of attempts from those two feels like Milwaukee's only option. Welcome to forever.
Marquis Daniels. Earns top billing for putting up the best pure offensive line of the game for Milwaukee, with 12 points on 5-8 shooting.
Larry Sanders. Sanders actually hasn't been awful against the Grizz, averaging 9 points, 10 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks in under 24 minutes over two games this season. But he can't hold down the boards by himself, and Randolph/Gasol together are just too much for any one player.
Doron Lamb. Spelled Ellis for all our sakes and played more solid defense, as well as making half of his 6 attempts. Also added a pair of assists and steals and committed just one turnover.
78/38. The Grizzlies defensive and offensive rebound percentages. In games with huge numbers of missed shots, rebound percentages tend to stabilize, but Memphis flexed its muscle and dominated where it was expected to: on the glass.
33.8/44.0. The true shooting percentage of Milwaukee's starting backcourt with and without Monta Ellis. One's bad, the other's worse.
95.0. On the bright side, the Bucks have now held five of their last six opponents below 95 points/100 possessions (again using HoopData's formula). The defense is basically being tasked with mucking things up while the offense waits for somebody to get hot. Half of that plan is working.
Salvage job. Brandon Jennings' night would've looked even worse if not for a 9-18 finish to the game, and he did earn eight free throws. But what's with all the back-to-back misses at the line all of a sudden? That's traditionally been the only spot where he's automatic.
Triple-double streak still alive! With 80 points, 44 rebounds, and 11 assists, the Bucks extended their team triple-double streak to 183 games. The last time the Bucks failed to record double-digits in at least 3 positive categories? March 26, 2010, in a 74-87 loss to the Miami Heat.
No more ESPN. Mercifully, the Bucks will not be shown on ESPN again this season, barring an expected flex schedule swap.
Dig a hole dig a hole dig a hole. There's just no recovering from the sort of first half Jennings and Ellis had. The real problem is how helpless both were to aid the team in other ways when their shots weren't falling.
Tied again. With Indiana's huge win over the Utah Jazz, the Bucks find themselves back in a tie for 2nd in the Central Division, leading the Pacers by mere percentage points.
If you can't be famous, be infamous. Admit it, some small part of you wanted Ellis to break Hardaway's record. It was going to be a fantastically bad night no matter what, so why not make a bit of history in the process?