Playoff seedings were at stake for the Rockets, Spurs, Trailblazers, Spurs, Hornets, Mavs, Sixers and Bulls in game 82’s around the NBA tonight. But first let’s go to Indiana, where our Bucks played their game 82.
Halfway through, both lottery-bound teams had played some game, even as the sore spots that have plagued the Bucks in coach Scott Skiles inaugural season rose to the surface yet again. The Bucks trailed 56-49 at half, despite a decisive 9-4 edge in turnovers. They’re getting more possessions than their opponent, as usual, but are simply not converting on the offensive end.
Some cold, cold shooting by the Bucks bench, led by a 2-8 from Charlie Villanueva. I believe I’m watching Charlie V’s last game as a Milwaukee Buck, which gave this game a melancholy vibe (aka the browns, you know, like the blues but just kinda blah).
I know, free agent Charlie’s up and down offensively, doesn’t play enough D to keep himself in Skiles’ starting lineup, forgets sometimes that winning in the NBA is more important than what UConn does in March, and he hasn’t become the sort of keeper that the Bucks will juggle the roster to retain… But we had high hopes for Charlie when he arrived from Toronto in summer of 2006.
The trade proved to be a decent one for the Bucks over the three years. The guy we traded to Toronto, T.J. “I lost my job to Jose Calderon” Ford, has lost another starting point guard gig, this one as a Pacer to Jarrett Jack. Charlie’s 16 pts and 7 boards per game this season look pretty good next to somebody’s back-up point guard.
It occurs to me that the Bucks drafted Ford with the pick obtained from the Atlanta Hawks, along with Toni Kukoc, in the Glenn Robinson trade. That makes Charlie V the last vestige of the 2002-03 Big Three trades. Maybe that’s where these browns are coming from as I watch this game.
I know I’m watching Damon Jones‘ last game as a Buck. The man who once crowned himself “the world’s greatest shooter” didn’t waste any time when Skiles put him into the game, end of the 2nd quarter. Jones buried from downtown the only shot he took. Jones and his 2009 expiring contract were add-ins to last summer’s Luke Ridnour-Mo Williams trade.
I’m not so sure about free agent Keith Bogans, who was brought in from Orlando in a trade for Tyronn Lue to help out after Michael Redd went down in January. At 6′ 5″, Bogans is able to guard big guards and small forwards, but if he’s expecting to find a raise above his $2.57 mill salary in free agency, happy hunting Keith. The Bucks may not be able to afford half that.
The Bucks and Pacers seemed unable to decide who really wanted this game. Had the Bucks won, they would have vaulted over the Nets, Bobcats and Pacers into 9th place in the East. After a 39-point 3rd quarter in which Richard Jefferson was on fire, the Bucks seemed to be on their way.
But Charlie V, Lucky Luke Ridnour and the bench decided to let the Pacers keep 9th place. The Pacers outscored the Bucks 43-20 in the 4th to win 115-108.
Tank you very much: The Bucks led 88-72 after 3 quarters. They ended this injury-riddle season in 12th place at 34-48, having lost the conference record tie-breaker to the 34-48 Nets. Here’s to RJ for not wanting to finish behind the Nets.
Who’s responsible for the tank? Blame rookie Brandon Rush and Pacers All-Star Danny Granger — they scored 24 and 35 pts respectively, hitting a combined 9-13 from three-point land. The Pacers landed in 9th with a 36-46 record. …
Scoreboard watching? The Bobcats and Nets were well on their way to losing by the time the Bucks finished up their 3rd quarter explosion. For the Pacers there was less at stake in winning this game. Had they lost to the Bucks, the Pacers would have finished 10th in the East, losing the head-to-head tie-breaker to the Bucks 3 games to 1. This would have moved them up from 13th to 12th going into the lottery. The Bucks had more to lose by winning — they would have dropped from 10th to 13th in the lottery ball sweepstakes, with better odds than only the Phoenix Suns.
If this was Charlie V’s last game, he’s leaving Milwaukee with whimper: Skiles played him just 17:39, his lowest MP total since his 12:27 Jan. 14 in Milwaukee vs. the Heat. He scored 10 pts on 3-10 shooting, grabbed 4 boards, and turned the ball over in the final minutes when the lottery slot, er, the game, was on the line.
The Bucks passed on Brandon Rush in last summer’s draft whilst picking Joe Alexander. Rush, the 13th pick, came on strong in a starting role toward the end of the season, including a 27-point effort Monday against the Cavs. …There’re those browns again.