After pounding the Charlotte Bobcats for one half and taking an 11 point lead at the break and going up 14, the Bucks apparently thought their season opener was in the bag. A 30-14 pasting in the 3rd quarter reminded all (yet again) that this Bucks team simply isn’t as good as it apparently thinks it is.
They looked a lot like one of those teams that has forgotten what it’s like to win in the NBA and can’t find the “how-to” manual.
In the fateful 3rd, one long offensive rebound after another bricked out to the Cats over the inside position held by Andrew Bogut and Ersan Ilyasova, and the second and third chance points piled up against a solid Bucks D that had forced the Cats outside.
Charlotte held a 52-39 rebounding advantage and grabbed 15 offensive boards. Remember when the Bucks hit the floor to seemingly come up with every available loose ball — those “50-50 plays” that coach Scott Skiles, Bogut and Luc Mbah a Moute used to talk about?
Last night, the Bucks didn’t get those, and nobody was talking about them. (Mbah a Moute, it should be noted, didn’t play due to some minor tendonitis in his right knee. Do the Bucks miss him that much? Yeah, they probably do.)
Bobcat guards Gerald Henderson and Kemba Walker had a combined 16 boards, just two less than Bogut and Ilyasova. In 114 combined minutes, Bucks guards Brandon Jennings, Beno Udrih, guard-forward Mike Dunleavy and forward-guard Stephen Jackson had all of 8 rebounds. That’s one rebound every 14 minutes.
Jackson was particularly awful, fouling out in just 17 minutes, getting a technical on the sixth foul and taking four ugly looking three pointers. One banked in, unbelievably. Is this the kind of basketball Skiles is going to allow this season? One has to wonder.
More importantly, Bogut looked good, better than he has since he mangled his arm in 2010: 17 points, 9 rebounds, a blocked shot and two of the Bucks six steals.
Unfortunately, most of the points came early against Cats PF Boris Diaw. Bogut had difficulty taking advantage of DeSagana Diop, the ‘Cats behemoth center, in the third quarter — and, you know our Bucks — the guards, led by Brandon Jennings, didn’t seem too interested in constructing offense where Bogut could take Diop in the open court. More self-inflicted offensive woes from Skiles’ Bucks.
Ilyasova and Gooden couldn’t get anything going offensively (combined 2-8 shooting). Here’s an insightful note from We’re Bucked because I’m trying really hard not to carp about Gooden:
The backup center issue is still an issue. When Bogut left for his late third-quarter breather, the Bobcats outscored the Bucks 9-0. Not only that, but before action resumed, Charlotte added two more free throws (plus possession of the ball) on a Drew Gooden flagrant foul that led to his ejection. So Bogut left with a six-point lead, came back to a five-point deficit, and returned early because Drew got himself tossed.
Mike Dunleavy, Jr., and Jackson shot a combined 4-16, the only makes from downtown. That’s combined 6-24 shooting from three starters and a key rotation big man. Ouch.
Carlos Delfino could have done that. He was out nursing a sprained shooting wrist, apparently suffered when he gunned one too many from 3-point-land.
Home opener tonight at 7:30 PM. Bucks will try again tonight at home in the Bradley Center against the Timberwolves and Kevin Love — a long night for the Bucks power forwards. And BJ hasn’t been good against his old backup, Luke Ridnour, never mind Ricky Rubio.
Note to self: This post is way too damned long. Must … find … better … way … to write. Running down recaps of generally forgettable basketball games will draw a fine from the editorial board. Time to dig around in the video vault for more footage of Stephen Jackson doing things ridiculous.