Slow news day this Monday in the Bucks camp but yesterday the Bucks did note that Andrew Bogut didn’t travel with the team to Utah, which ought to keep life very interesting for Brandon Jennings, Ersan Ilyasova and Luc Mbah a Moute, who gutted out a much-needed 104-101 win against the Bobcats Saturday, ending the Bucks five-game losing streak.
How a group of NBA players — no matter who they are — can shoot as poorly as the Bucks did in losing those five games is a mystery, one that unfolded with a strange side-effect: the new guys — Corey Maggette and Drew Gooden — developed sore feet. Even stranger was that the soreness did not attack just any feet, but has targeted Maggette and Gooden’s left feet.
Whatever the source of this strange left foot malady, Maggette didn’t suit up Saturday and coach Scott Skiles took the opportunity to do what many Bucks fans have been calling on him to do since the first games of the seasom: move Gooden to the bench, where he sat all game registering a DNP. Ilyasova took the starting power forward duties and, from the opening tap the Bucks seemed to recognize each other — and themselves — and jumped out to a double digit lead that they held until the ‘Cats made a gritty run at them in the fourth quarter.
Ilyasova played 40+ minutes and finished with 17 pts, 9 rebs and six assists — showing again that if Skiles gives him minutes, he doesn’t play as though he has two left feet. Mbah a Moute played all but 40 seconds of the game and posted 12 pts, 10 boards battling with Gerald Wallace and harassing Stephen Jackson into two technical fouls and an ejection early in the first quarter.
Larry Sanders started at center and had his best game as a pro, while the generally terrible Jon Brockman backed Sanders up in the first half and was benched in the 2nd. John Salmons was good for three quarters before running out of gas in the 4th.
Jennings, as prescribed, was great, leading the Bucks with 32 pts and 6 assists. Maybe it was the absence of Gooden clogging the post and demanding the ball — maybe it was Jennings simply taking over — but the ball moved, the Bucks shooters got well for one night and the losing streak ended. They’ll need Jennings to assert and maintain control of the Bucks offense this week in Utah and Denver.
Their left feet: Maggette limped off the court in Detroit Friday, and Skiles mentioned that he was aware Maggette was having problems before the game. He didn’t suit up. While Maggette had foot problems in training camp, much less has been reported about Gooden’s left foot. Gooden has been healthy all year and the decision to sit him down came right up to game time, the reports suggested, though no mention is made of Gooden ailment.
So, what gives? Is Gooden hurt or — given the lack of ball movement when he’s in the game — has he been benched? Whatever the situation — and Gooden did seem to hit a wall while playing far too many minutes during the five game losing streak — Jennings didn’t miss him as an option, and had no problem keeping the entire starting five involved in the offense.
This just in: Gooden is out with plantar fasciitis in his left foot left ankle injury, Jennings’ starting line-up stays with Ilyasova and Sanders on the frontline. Maggette is listed as a game time decision.