One win in January. Fourteen losses. That is the final tally for the opening month of 2014 for the Bucks.
It is thankfully over, but not before the Bucks put on one more painful performance in a loss to the league's second worst team 113-102. And it wasn't even that close, either. The Magic quickly grabbed the lead behind hot starts from Arron Afflalo (14 of his 21 points in the first quarter) and Victor Oladipo (15p/7r/5a), leading by 15 points after the first quarter and not facing any serious threat thereafter. By the way, the Magic had 12 wins heading into tonight's game.
The Bucks struggled mightily on defense throughout, allowing Orlando to shoot 51.8 percent for the night, and didn't help themselves early by coughing up 11 turnovers and fouling the Magic at almost every turn. With one of their most productive players John Henson out due to a right hand/wrist injury, the Bucks couldn't afford to play recklessly like they have so many times this year, but...well, the Bucks haven't exactly executed on doing what we've wanted to see them do too many times this year, have we?
(*Subjects' stats in this section are larger than they appear, due to a game that disintegrated into garbage time basketball rather quickly)
The Bucks had seven players score in double figures tonight, "led" by Caron Butler's second half heat check, which resulted in 20 points on 7-12 shooting. Among the cluster of double figure performances, there were a few impressive stat lines. Nate Wolters, who got a starting nod tonight, finished with 8p/9r/7a and did an okay job finding open guys for good looking shot attempts. He didn't make a ton of plays and only shot 4-11 from the field, but hey...it's not Luke Ridnour, right?
Larry Sanders played most of the night with lots of energy on both ends, ending the game with 10p/9r/4s/4b. For all the bad that's surrounded him this season, I've liked what I've seen from Sanders in the past few games. He hasn't been full LARRY SANDERS! yet, but he's played pretty hard and has kept his emotions in check, resulting in some effective performances on the court, which is just about all you can ask from him in a season headed in this direction.
Giannis Antetokounmpo. What a delight, even if was just garbage time fun. The highlight of his 15-point, 7-rebound night? Well that's easy:
After a scoreless first half in which he came off the bench for the first time in 21 games, Giannis got on the board with two straight triples in the third and was the most energetic Buck in the fourth quarter, for whatever that's worth. The exciting fourth quarter still doesn't take away from the fact that he's had a difficult time finding his way through screens defensively or providing a counter move when someone stymies his initial moves on offense, but at least he still makes us smile with plays like the one above. Also, it was discussed (not sure if verified, though) on both telecasts tonight that his family will finally be able to come to the U.S. very soon. The Bucks telecast said Giannis bought his mom a heart-shaped box of chocolates and will have them waiting for her when she arrives. God, what would this season be like without this kid?
- Gary Neal played tonight (and scored 13 points). I guess that's something new.
- John Henson will not play tomorrow night when the Bucks continue their road trip in Memphis against the Grizzlies. So, that gives Milwaukee three bigs against a fully healthy Grizzlies frontcourt. OH GOD NO.
- Not only did Nate Wolters start, but he played 41 minutes and Luke Ridnour saw no court time. It's kind of weird that the switch happened so drastically, but I guess I won't complain.