Monday, November 21, 2005

New Home for Sammy

I'm officially over at bucks.mostvaluablenetwork.com now, so that's where you can catch my brilliant insights from here on out. Peace.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Marc Stein re-ranks again

Now the Bucks are 4th!

Check this out

If you're familiar with my continued rantings about the fallacy of keeping Jamaal Magloire in the starting lineup over Andrew Bogut, you can read about it here from a much more esteemed writer than I. It sounds strikingly familiar to what I recently wrote. It's good, though, to know that I'm not the only one noticing this. It's ridiculous.

LORDY!

Bobcats 122 Pacers 90

This is the team that's supposed to win the East?

At first I thought that the Pacers were for sure better than the Bucks and we were just lucky to beat them (which still might be true). But not after this game. The Pacers had not one major injury. Not one.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Halfway Done

Sam Cassell NBA Rollerz
Life-size photo of Sam Cassell

Well the Bucks are halfway through their western road swing. Last year they had two close losses to Miami before the trip and that totally demoralized the team and they were promptly swept, on their way to getting swept on the road out west all season, going 0-15. This year the trip didn't start out any better, losing by 24 to the Clippers and our old buddy Sam Cassell. The Bucks played their usual fall behind early game, except this time they didn't come back, which usually isn't a good thing. I have no idea why Corey Magette is coming off the bench for these guys (something about his ankle probably), but he killed us all night, and has been very proficient off the bench in his previous games, so it doesn't make any sense not to start him anymore. Even though he's been crazy efficient off the bench (50% FG 93% FT) and won't keep that up as a starter, it's inarguable that he is more valuable playing 40 minutes a night rather than the 27 he's playing now. Sam Cassell was MVP though, with 23 and 9 and not even playing the fourth.

Most importantly was what happened to Terry Stotts. He's starting to sucumb to Terry Porter syndrome. Check out these numbers:

Jamaal Magloire: 22 min 0-5 FG 0-0 FT 0 PTS 8 REB 3 TO 3 PF
Dan Gadzuric:16 min 3-6 FG 1-2 FT 7 PTS 4 REB 1 TO 2 PF

Which one of those two would you say played better? Now which one would you say got more minutes? Another ominous sign was that Andrew Bogut got only 14 minutes of PT. If this game was just a warning sign, the GS game was the confirmation. More on that in a second. Perhaps the greatest crime Stotts committed was letting Ervin Johnson into the game. I honestly don't care if it was garbage time, he should never ever be allowed to touch a basketball anymore, let alone get into the game. At least Porter was playing Dan Santiago over Gadzuric.

Mo Williams had his first bad game since the season opener, shooting 4-11, and Joe Smith had his first bad game of the season, shooting 1-6 with 4 pts. and 4 PF. Bobby Simmons didn't do much in his return to LA, but pretty much the only player who did play well was Charlie Bell with 8 points on 4-6 shooting in just 9 minutes. He's shooting .462 for the season, not bad for a 6-3 shooting guard.

Just a poor effort all around, I would say. We were lifeless.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------


I just like showing Mike Dunleavy pictures

The GS game was a welcome respite from the LAC game, in that it was the first time since the Miami game that we came out strong. But unlike the Miami game, we stayed pretty strong throughout, never falling behind by more than a few and taking a 15 point lead into the fourth. It was a nailbiter at the end, with Baron Davis and Jason Richardson both missing threes, letting the Bucks escape with a 90-87 win, and ending our 20 month Western road losing streak. Even though we did come out strong for once, there were some troubling aspects of the game that need to be addressed. Like I mentioned above, this was the first game where Terry Stotts finally sucumbed to Terry Porter syndrome. I think I've come up with a permanent name for this disease in the basketball world: Terryitis. You know when your coach has Terryitis when he plays obviously inferior players over much more talented players for reasons known only to him. Check out these stat lines:

GSW game:
Joe Smith: 32 min. 4-9 FG 9 pts. 13 reb. (4 offensive.) 5 PF
Andrew Bogut: 16 min. 4-12 FG 9 pts. 11 reb. (7 offensive.) 1 PF
Dan Gadzuric: DNP-CD

Now take a look at those numbers. They both scored the same amount of points, true, and Joe Smith shot better than Bogut, but I've highlighted two key numbers that will explain this. Joe Smith played twice as many minutes but only ended up with only two more rebounds, and Bogut in half the minutes grabbed almost twice as many offensive rebounds. This explains the poor shooting. Bogut was fighting for lots of offensive rebounds, and was therefore putting up more contested shots (i.e. a lower percentage than your normal low-post shot). Lets do the math. If bogut gets 32 minutes he scores 18 points and grabs 22 rebounds, 14 of which are offensive. He probably won't take as many contested inside shots because his coach will be telling him in timeouts to pass the ball out to run a new play when he gets those rebounds.

It's not as if Bogut did anything to deserve the reduction in minutes. He was playing far better than I expected particularly in the areas of defense and rebounding. Don't go thinking those 22 rebounds are unrealistic, he's already had a game of 17 rebs. He was also shooting .555 from the field before the western trip and averaging 8.8 reb. in 31.6 min. He never caught an attitude with Stotts, but far more imprtantly, he has vastly outplayed Jamaal Magloire, who has rebounded and defended reasonably well but has been absolutely wretched on offense, shooting .350 from the field. That's 200 points worse than Bogut. In addition, Magloire is averaging 3 TOs and over 4 fouls a game to Bogut's .88 TOs and 3 fouls a game, in almost identical minutes.

The only reason Magloire is starting is because he has the title of "former all-star." So is Latrell Sprewell. So what? Bogut has earned PT by being with the team throughout training camp and learing the system, and Magloire hasn't. So if Bogut is playing better, and is just as big a part of the Bucks future as Magloire isn't, why isn't he getting PT? Terryitis.

Golden State, despite theur record, has been a mild disappointment to me. They aren't scoring at nearly the rate they did last year, after getting Baron Davis. They are only averaging 93.4 points a game, but their defense is much improved, allowing opponents only 89.4 points per game. Their offensive woes fall mostly on Baron Davis, whose shjooting this year has been unspeakably awful: .324 FG .290 3P .667 FT. It's true that their $85 million duo, Mike Dunleavy and Adonal Foyle, only gave them 5 points and five fouls on 2-10 shooting, but they're only an $85 million duo because Chris Mullin made them one. It's Davis' team.

Next for the Bucks is Sacramento, a team that has struggled but is still dangerous. The second game is Utah, a game that we should win because of the injuries to Kirilenko and Boozer but which won't be a cakewalk by any means. It's very reasonable to expect a split. I'm willing to tolerate Terryitis for now as long as we win, but we won't be able to keep this up for the whole season.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bucks vs. Clippers preview

This is just gross.

Kevin Garnett; Sam Cassell

Monday, November 14, 2005

Re-ranking the Bucks

Marc Stein
"Just kidding! Screw those old rankings!!"

Well, it looks like Marc Stein has re-ranked his power rankings from pre-season. He now has the Bucks ranked at 5th! (as if that means something). However, this was before the Bucks' loss to Golden State and before their win against Indiana; I only just found it now. Before the season, he had us 16th.

SI's Marty Burns also re-ranked the teams, but this one was after the GS loss, before the Pacers win. He has the Bucks ranked 14th.

Rest assured, I'm not going to re-rank my rankings: I actually want to see if I'm right.

MO MY GOD!!!

Bucks 103 Pacers 102
MO? IS THAT YOU?

All right, now that I've calmed down a bit after Saturday's game, I'd just like to say "WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!" How can the Bucks keep this up? I don't know. All I know is that the score was 96-82 with 3 minutes left and I started reading a magazine, and 2 minutes later I looked up and it was 99-97. Whoa. The Pacers apparently missed 10 free-throws in the final minute, after the Bucks had missed countless free-throws before. Ted Davis, the Bucks play-by-play man is someone I usually hold in high regard; he's genuinely passionate about Bucks basketball. But no less than 5 times did he say "It's over," "That's the ballgame," or something to that effect.

This is the first time I have ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, seen the foul-and-hope strategy work. You know that every time you see a game where someone does that you're screaming at the T.V. "Come on! Let the game be over!" I know I do. But anyway, Ted Davis made up for his lack of belief by saying at the end to all the Bucks "faithful" who left the game early, "If you're listening to this in the car as you're heading home from the game, You Missed IT!!" This was a line you had to listen to the entire game to appreciate the hilarity of. Hilarious.

Anyway, I've said many times before that the Bucks can't keep this style of play up the entire season, but they're trying hard. This game was exactly the same as the previous 4, so there's no sense writing a summary. Needless to say, the Pacers looked like the clearly superior team, even without Jamaal Tinsley, for the first 47 minutes and 53 seconds, until Michael Redd hit three free-throws after he was fouled on a three attempt by Anthony Johnson, Fred Jones missed one out of two from the line, and Mo drilled his shot from about 28 feet. This was another failing of Davis, as he reported several times that the shot was from "at least 35 feet." If this was true, he would have been closer to halfcourt than the three-point line.

"Why report the facts? The game's over."

Luckily, the game ended about two minutes before the sports report at ten on the news, so I got to see the shot right away. Considering that, at that point, I thought the shot was from at least 35 feet, the replay was sort of anti-climactic. Ted Davis doesn't really say what's going on during the game, he just says the name of the player with the ball. But that's okay, for now, because the ending really was unbelievable, and it's forgivable to forget to do all the things normally associated with decent sportscasting.

And by the way, you have to wonder if Terry Porter couldn't have done the exact same thing with these Bucks that Stotts is doing. Yeah, he had some bizzare and often downright awful substitution patterns, but still, they went to the playoffs in Porter's first year after SI called them the worst team in the league.

But from now on, I don't care how the Bucks win anymore, as long as they win.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Go Devin! It's your birthday!

photo
"I'm telling you, Devin: Doug Christie is just better!"

Shoutout to former Wisconsin star and current Dallas Mavericks sixth man Devin Harris who has come back much improved this year. He scored 21 points in 23 minutes last night against the Bobcats, while shooting 7-10 from the field (let's pretend those six turnovers didn't happen). Two games earlier he shot 8-8 for 22 points in 17 minutes in the Mavs' beatdown of the Spurs. On the season he's averaging 12 points a game in just 16 minutes off the bench, and shooting an absurd .629 from the field, fourth in the entire league. I never thought he played that poorly last year, but he was unfairly forced into the starting lineup when he wasn't ready to begin his rookie year and was relegated to the bench for the rest of the season for Jason Terry, and Terry had the best season of his career, being one of only two players (with Steve Nash) to shoot 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from 3, and 80 percent from the line, and also came up huge in the playoffs.

Avery Johnson still hasn't caught on to how terrible Doug Christie is, though. As I proved earlier, it's quite obvious that they would be far better served with Marquis Daniels in the starting lineup, but now Devin Harris is making an argument of his own. Terry, seeing how good a shooter he is, and the fact that he has played shooting guard before, might be able to play alongside Harris in the starting backcourt. As a matter of fact, Terry isn't even playing close to as good as he was last year, so you might even want to start Harris and Daniels.

No matter what, though, they have to get Christie out soon and for good.

No Seattle! NOOOOOO!


"That's how we do it in Racine, bitch!"

Oh my god. Please tell me that Seattle game against Washington wasn't real. I knew they kind of sucked this year, losing by 25 to Memphis and by 27 to the Cavs in back-to-back games, but 137-96 to Washington? Larry Hughes-less Washington? Jared Jeffries-in-the-starting-lineup- Washington? A-guy-who-got-shot-two-months-ago-in-his-first-game-ever-coming-straight-out-of-high-school-scoring-5-points-Washington? By 41? 41! What the hell. I thought they would be mildly worse without Antonio Daniels and especially Nate McMillan, but everyone seemed fine with the hiring of Bob Weiss, and this is pretty much the same team from last year.

John Hollinger wrote a column on the disappointing start of the Sonics (and Kings) at nysun.com, but that was before the Washington loss. He says that the reason Seattle and Sacramento are playing poorly is because they are shooting poorly, which isn't good for two teams that aren't good defensively.

I'm only writing about this because former Buck Ray Allen is on the Sonics and was actually playing well before the Washington game but he got no help whatsoever. Ray, I feel for you.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Bucks' luck runs out 110-103

That's goaltending!

This Milwaukee team is becoming really easy to write about this year. So easy, in fact, that I didn't even have to watch tthe game they played against the Warriors, and I didn't; I only skimmed over the recap in the paper. But I know exactly what happened. It went a little like this:

-Baron Davis penetrates. Bucks' zone collapses and defense gets lost, Davis kicks out to Troy Murphy for wide open 3.
-Baron Davis penetrates. Bucks' zone collapses and defense gets lost, Davis kicks out to Jason Richardson for wide open 3.
-Baron Davis penetrates. Bucks' zone collapses and defense gets lost, Davis kicks out to Mike Dunleavy for wide open 3.
-Baron Davis penetrates. Bucks' zone collapses and defense gets lost, Davis kicks out to (fill in name here) for wide open 3.

This is exactly what happened to the Bucks against Miami and to a lesser extent New Jersey and Philadelphia. It followed the Bucks script to a tee. Bucks fall behind early, and through timely layups by T.J. Ford and 3's by Michael Redd/Bobby Simmons/Mo Williams the Bucks climb back in it and squeak one out. I said in my last Bucks recap that this style of play is not sustainable over a full season and I was right, even though it's only 1 game. Time and again the Bucks would fall down by 7 or 9, get a few key stops and crawl back to tie or come close, only to have another 3 hit in their faces by one of the aforementioned and be out of it again. This time they managed to get the lead down from seven to 96-94 with 2 minutes left, only to have Troy Murphy hit a wide-open three. The only difference between the Warriors and the Heat is that the Warriors can shoot, and Antoine Walker and Jason Williams can't.

On the bright side, Joe Smith made a fantastic return with 12 points and 12 rebounds and Mo Williams once again had a great game offensively off the bench. His defense is the only thing that prevents him from being a starter-quality player in this league, but the combo of T.J. at the 1 and Mo at the 2 works quite well in small bursts.

You are never going to win letting your opponent shoot 50 percent from the field and 48 percent from 3, even if you shoot 48 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3 and take 16 more field goals because if your opponent shoots 12 more 3's and gets to the free-throw line 15 more times, they are going to outscore you. The Bucks with all their penetrators (i.e. T.J. and Mo) and all their quality big men (Bogut, Magloire, Smith, Gadzuric, Kukoc) shouldn't have a problem getting to the line but this has been a negative characteristic in all our wins in the first half, and against the Warriors for the entire game. It's pretty obvious that had the Bucks just gotten to the free-throw line as many times as the Warriors, they could have overcome all the open 3's they were giving up.

Now it's on to the Pacers on Saturday, and they play a pretty slow, physical style, so we shouldn't have a problem in the free-throw department. The real question is how Milwaukee responds to facing their first good defensive opponent all year. I still think Indiana was and is a little overrated heading into this year, but make no mistake, they are an elite team in the East, as they are very deep. The only team the Pacers lost to was the Sixers, a team we beat, so we'll definitely have a chance in this gae, but I'll go with the Pacers by at least 5.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Too early to say I-told-you-so?

"Thank's Dirk. Now I have to wash my hair."
Well, yes, it is to early to say I told you so, but the Mavs did whip the Spurs last night by 19(!). Props to Wisconsin's own Devin Harris, who went 8-8 and scored 20 points in the fourth quarter.
I never thought they were as bad as everyone was saying they were. They had a quiet offseason for once (which always bodes well for chemistry), Michael Finley left, which to me was not a bad thing for three reasons: a) because Finley was clearly on the decline, b) it cleared up space for the much younger and more talented Marquis Daniels and c) it clearly established Dirk Nowitzki as the go-to guy on the team. A team is better off with a go-to guy than without one. The Detroit Pistons were a rare exception. Also, while I tended to believe the Denver Nuggets' 32-8 run under George Karl was a fluke, I tend not to think that of the Mavericks' 18-2 run under Avery Johnson. Why? Because they finally started playing some D, and because Avery really proved his coaching chops in the playoffs, coming from 2-0 down on the road against the Rockets and nearly beating the Phoenix Suns juggernaut. I was shocked to see that Doug Christie was in the starting lineup for the Mavs for opening day and apparently beyond. This is the most masochistic thing any team has done this season. Marquis Daniels is clearly more talented and Doug Christie is DONE!!!!!. (That's (Caps Lock) d-o-n-e (shift) 1-1-1-1-1 for you, Mark Cuban.) Not only that, but he proved he was done in the first game of the seaason with zero points in 20-something minutes, and has scored a grand total of 8 points in 87 minutes. Here's a head to head:
Doug Christie Marquis Daniels
PPG 2.7 8.3
APG 2.7 0.0
RPG 3.0 3.3
SPG 1.67 2.00
BPG 0.0 0.0
FG% .231 .474
FT% .500 1.000
3P% .000 .500
MPG 29.0 29.3
(Sorry about the formatting. I couldn't get it to look right)
As you can see, there's no contest. Not even good D can make up for those shooting percentages, and Daniels is even averaging more steals.

If the Mavericks are serious about winning, they'll start Daniels immediately, and use Christie only as a stop-gap until Jerry Stackhouse gets back (if ever). The Spurs' offseason was totally overrated, as are Finley and Nick Van Exel. The Mavericks are both younger and deeper off the bench. I still firmly believe that the Mavs can win the division and the championship, as long as they get Daniels in there.

Bucks Win Again!?!


"In your face, kidney transplant recipient!"

Now I'm really starting to like this team. The addition of Jamaal Magloire (and his awful play in the first two games) and my general dislike of Larry Harris prevented me from taking too much joy in the Bucks first 2 wins, but after last night's game, I'm just going to shut up and enjoy the ride. The Bucks overcame a nine-point, fourth-quarter defecit to beat the Heat. I don't care if they didn't have Shaq, they still shouldn't have lost to us, especially with that lead.

In the first, T.J. and Magloire looked sharp, with Magloire finally providing something on the offensive end. The Bucks started a game strong for the first time this season. The Heat were running the Bucks though, and they looked lost, especially when Andrew Bogut lost Udonis Haslem in transition for an easy dunk. Magloire took an ugly shot from way outside, which he had no business taking. When Gary Payton came in, I'll admit I didn't really notice, that is until I heard the crowd lustily booing. I want to refrain from swearing on this site because I'm sort of using this site to prepare for a career in sportswriting, but you know what? Fuck Gary Payton. Gary Payton
"Now you take something off!"

I'm glad that I live in a city where we won't let assholes like him (and Gary Sheffield, for that matter) get away with screwing us over. To the fans credit, they booed long and hard for the entire game, not just the first quarter. I wish someone would have said "Hey Gary, how are the strip clubs in Miami?" or "Hey, you still hang out with Jason Caffey?" Payton and Caffey (along with Sam Cassell) got into a fight at a strip club in Toronto, when they were all with the Bucks. Then, when guest hosting "The Best Damn Sports Show, Period" he had the gall to give advice to Andrew Bogut after he was drafted #1 by the Bucks, along the lines of, make sure you have a lot of books to read because Milwaukee is boring. Gee, Gary, I'm so sorry we don't have strip clubs on every corner, and prostitution isn't legal. We'll stick with the fine arts and lakefront cultural festivals. So, I was understandably thrilled when Mo Williams drilled a three in his face to end the quarter, to take the lead 26-23. It was Mo's second three of the quarter.

Please break his neck!

The second quarter was when the tide began to turn. Mo was still hitting shots, but the Bucks started to get killed by, of all people, Alonzo Mourning, starting in place of O'Neal. He looks like just as great a shotblocker as ever, blocking 2 dunks in the quarter. He was also scoring like the Zo of old, picking up eleven by halftime. The Heat also ran the Bucks ragged, and I mean ragged. The Bucks looked awful in transition and in the halfcourt. The rotations were terrible, and Miami got open look after open look, and converted more often than not. The Bucks were also totally lost on offense, as T.J. didn't really have a clear plan of what he wanted to do. He usually just ran down penetrated, vame back out and looked desperately for someone to pass to. At halftime, the Heat led 52-49, but the game was becoming much more lopsided than that. Milwaukee had only 15 rebounds in the first half, and once again struggled to get to the line, getting only two shots to the Heat's 11.

The Bucks started the second half where thay left off, playing poor transition defense, not boxing out, and getting lost in the halfcourt offense. Mourning blocked a layup, but key shots by Bobby Simmons kept Milwaukee in it, and T.J. Ford's patent blow-by layup managed to cut the lead to two going into the fourth.

The fouth quarter started out with the Bucks making poor rotations again and the Heat getting hordes of wide open shots and pushing the lead to nine. Miami started playing super-physical ball and were getting away with murder: Mourning bashed T.J.'s face with an elbow and Haslem did the same to Charlie Bell, after Bell made a great hustle play, but no fouls were getting called. The rest of the quarter belonged to Simmons though, as he drilled a long two and slammed down the best dunk of the NBA season right on Mourning's head, for a four-point lead. Considering that Mourning blocked 2 dunks and a layup previously, (and later would block a dunk by Jamaal Magloire) this would be a good candidate for Slamadamonth. The Heat went dead cold after the Bucks tied it at 92, being outscored 6-1. They still had a chance, because Wade was doing what he does best, getting to the free-throw line off of drives, but Wade missed two free-throws, and the game was pretty much in the bag. 105-100 Bucks.

Simmons was obviously MVP of the game. He scored 23 points, but for the dunk on Mourning alone I would've given him MVP, even if he had missed 25 three-pointers taken with 19 secconds on the shotclock leading up to the dunk. Redd also had a quiet 23, and Mo Williams had another great game after the Game 1 debacle, with 16 points on 5-6 shooting. Magloire had his best game as a Buck with 14 points, 8 rebounds, and two blocks. He did foul out for the second time in the first three games, so his three game foul total is now 15. T.J. Ford came back with a good fourth quarter and finished with 13 points and 11 assists. Bogut was quiet after the first quarter, with 6 and 6.

As good as ths win was, and as fun as it was to watch, the Bucks' penchant for falling behind and coming back in the fourth is not sustainable for an entire season. The Bucks are going to have to give more consistent showings or they are not going to do very well when everyone is tired in the middle of the seaon. We might be able to get away with it for now, but it has to change soon.

Maybe I AM right.

A few thoughts from around the web regarding my predictions.

-First, Bill Simmons has his NBA preview up at ESPN.com and it seems my complaints abouth ESPN's rankings are starting to be discovered by other writers. Simmons, too, complains of Mark Blount getting a seven (out of ten) in the player rankings. He also lists Dallas as one of the teams that are underrated going into the season. We'll find out Saturday how good Dallas really is when they face San Antonio in Dallas. But then he goes off his rocker by saying Seattle will not repeat last season's success because (among other things) "they'll miss what Jerome James gave them." What a selfish moron who plays 5 minutes a game and picks up 3 fouls? Yeah, right. But he bounces back later with a hilarious crack about how Nene is out for the season after hurting his "kn-knee." He also made a great joke about how David Stern would have handled Hurricane Katrina had he been president and how it relates to the NBA dress code. Check it out:

-Page 2's Patrick Hruby also writes a great column about myths of the NBA. They include:
  • NBA players can't shoot
  • The draft lottery is rigged
  • Stars get the calls
  • Fans can affect free-throw shooting (this one is interesting)

The best part is when he talks about how some people think the NBA doesn't play a team game. and he guesses as to how Spike Lee would trash the NBA in "Do the Right Thing," in one of those face-the-camera monologues:

"Hot-dogging, no-passing, me-first one-on-one streetballing, Iverson jacking 50 shots, Kobe shooting over three defenders while four guys stand in the corner checking out the Laker girls, that's why you won a bronze medal at the Olympics, can't play as a team, I hate this game, whatever happened to Hickory High and the '72-73 Knicks, losers!"

This is also worth checking out, as this is some of the best NBA writing at ESPN in a long time.

Larry Harris' extension


"I'm zorry for zrinking and zriving!"

Considering how much I dislike Larry Harris for the way he handled the Mason trade and the Porter firing, you might think I would be unhappy with the 2 year extension he recently recieved. Well, I'm not. I've never argued his player evaluation skills, as I've said before, I just don't like him personally. This is the opposite of what you usually hear in the sports world. Usually someone is a terrible GM, but he's not supposed to take that personally; he's probably a great guy. Larry Harris is the opposite. He has terrible personal relations skills. At least he ate some humble pie at the press conference for his announcement, saying his biggest regret is the wayhe handled the Porter firing. While I think Sen. Kohl probably made him say that, he's still a good GM and I'd rather have him running this team than almost anyone else in the league. The Bucks have been extremely fortunate to have 2 good (great?) GMs in a row, with Ernie Grunfeld and now Harris. As long as Harris doesn't lose his mojo, the Bucks should be in good shape for a while. So here's a grudging congratulations, Larry.

Let the above photo be a symbol of my dislike of Larry the Drunken sailor.

Yay! Yay! No!


"At least I'm not with Toronto!"

Well, as you might be able to tell from the title, I have good news, good news, and bad news. The good news is the Bucks won again on Wednesday, again coming from behind. The other good news is that Shaq is out for Saturday's game against the Heat, and the bad news is I just read a rumor on ESPN.com that Dan Gadzuric might be on the market. NOOOOO!!!

Well for the first bit of good news, the Bucks came back from 16 pts. down early in the 1st quarter to beat the Nets. The Bucks were fouling up a storm in the first quarter, commiting 12 fouls, and by the end of the game every Bucks player who played more than 1 minute would have at least 3 fouls, except Toni Kukoc, who had 2. Bobby Simmons was in foul trouble all game after a terrific debut with the Bucks, and he would foul out with only 4 pts. The Nets were getting out on the break and drawing lots of fouls, and they were dominating the boards, they eventually led 21-5 and 23-7. Even so, I coudn't shake the feeling that the Nets weren't looking that much better. Jamaal Magloire looked much better defensively, but the Bucks just couldn't get anything going, taking and missing a lot more shots than the Nets. They led 29-17 after one.

The second quarter was a marked improvement with 5 players hitting threes. Michael Redd and Toni Kukoc each had one, Mo Williams had two, and T.J. Ford drilled one just before the buzzer to cut the Nets lead to two going into the half. We finally got to see a little of the T.J. Ford-Mo Williams combination but it wasn't too impressive, with their one fast break opportunity ruined by Mo Williams dribbling the ball off of Richard Jefferson's foot. We also saw a little Mo Williams-Charlie Bell combo in the backcourt, resulting in a fast break layup. The small lineup seemed to work well for the Bucks as they were now routinely beaating the Nets down the floor. It was 48-46 at the half. T.J. had 13 to lead the team.

In the third Andrew Bogut had a tip-in to start the half and tie the game and then another tip-in to take the lead, and then another tip-in a little bit later. This started the Bucks off on the right track, as they were dominating the offensive glass by the end of the game. It was a little back-and-forth and then Michael Redd took over. He faked his man into the air and went around for an open J, then followed that up with an And-1. After a Mo Williams jumper, Redd had a three, and a follow-up tip-in off his own missed shot. with 1.9 seconds left. All in all, Redd scored 17 points in the quarter and the Bucks took an eight point lead into the fourth, 73-65.

After a Mo Williams three to open the 4th quarter, Redd hit another jumper, and the Bucks had scored 15 straight. Marc Jackson made it 78-67, and then 78-69, but an amazing alleyoop in traffic from Williams to Gadzuric made it 80-69. T.J. Ford followed that up with an And-1, blowing by Jefferson and drawing a foul. Two Redd free-throws made it 85-69, and the Nets were essentially out of it. The outcome was still in doubt, though, when Jefferson and Ford got tangled up and Jefferson purposely threw an elbow to Ford's head, drawing an ejection. Unbelievably, Ford was the one who got called for the actual personal foul, though.

"Hey Jeff, aren't you a Christian?"

Mo stood up to Jefferson and was initially ejected, but the referees reversed themselves. This was quite confusing because the refs never informed the public-adress anouncer and even Pashke and McGlocklin weren't sure why Mo was out on the floor playing after the PA announcer said he was ejected. The Nets were pretty much done, though, and the rest was garbage time, and Josh Davis and Reece Gaines got their first burn of the season. The Bucks won 110-96.

Michael Redd had a monster game, finishing with 41 and shooting 60 percent from the field (12-20) and from 3 (3-5). MO Williams also redeemed himself from the first game with 23 points and the aforementioned alleyoop connection. Foul trouble plagued all of the Bucks so the bench was much less effective than the last game, with Charlie Bell going scoreless. As I said before, Magloire's D was better but he was still useless offensively, shooting 1-6 and again finishing with 4 points. His two game totals are 3-10 shooting, 8 points, 17 rebounds, 8 turnovers. In my ongoing series "The Screwing of Dan Gadzuric," Gadzuric's two game totals, are 6-9 shooting 12 points, 9 rebounds, and 1 turnover. He has played far fewer minutes. Ford had a good game offensively, scoring 21 (on 19 shots, though) and giving out 6 assists. Andrew Bogut was a beast on tthe offensive glass, with 17 rebounds overall, although some of those were in garbage time. All in all, good game, guys.

On to the second bit of good news, Shaq is out for two to four weeks with an ankle sprain and therefore won't play in the game Saturday. While this is good considering the soft way the Bucks have started games, this shouldn't give too much comfort, considering the Heat's depth, and how well they played without him last year (8-3 regular season.) The Heat would probably be considered serious contenders without O'Neal, considering how much Dwyane Wade has improved. It should still be a close game.

And on the bad news of Gadzuric, it's just a rumor for now, all speculation. But we know what happened last time Larry Harris got hold of a rumor (he traded D-Mase if you don't know.)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Bucks Win!!

T.J. Ford is back in a big way.

"Not this T.J. Ford, stupid!"

If you can come back from a spinal cord injury that makes you miss a year and a half of basketball and still be faster then Allen Iverson, and have the best game of your career in your first game back, you have to feel pretty good about yourself.

And I feel pretty good about the Bucks.

Michael Redd might be the franchise, but T.J. Ford is its heart and soul. It was all about T.J. last night as he and Allen Iverson enagaged in an amazing speed battle, and just as Iverson looked ready to deliver the knockout punch, T.J blew by him for a layup, then on the next posession got away from him in the halfcourt and found Michael Redd for the game-tying three.

For the first three-and-a-half quarters it was all Iverson and Chris Webber, as the Bucks played nearly no defense at all inside or out. In the first quarter, the Sixers were beating us to everything and making nearly all their shots, in a game that was frantically back-and-forth. The second quarter was ugly, though, as T.J. had to leave with three fouls and you got a glimpse of what the Bucks were like last year, with Mo Williams playing erratically, missing 10 of 12 shots including 2 layups and playing absolutely horrendous defense on Iverson, who repeatedly crossed Williams and got to the basket for easy baskets, and the game slowed down tremendously. That's the difference T.J. makes. In the third, T.J. was back in, and, along with Bobby Simmons, who had a great debut, the Bucks gained a five point lead. But the Sixers rallied at the end behind, of all people, John Salmons, who was killing Redd on penetration. Chris Webber also made some timely baskets. The fourth seemed like it was over for the Bucks as the Sixers were clicking once again, forcing turnovers and getting out in transition for easy baskets. They stretched the lead to nine early, but down seven with 67 seconds left, the Bucks rallied. Redd hit two free-throws, T.J. blew by Iverson once again for an easy layup, Jamaal Magloire came up with a stop on Webber, which led to the helter-skelter finish. T.J. Ford had wide open looks twice but passed them up, found Redd, and he hit. The big question was, why didn't the Sixers, up by three, foul Ford? We might never know.

In the overtime, Andrew Bogut hit his stride, making a key layup, grabbing key rebounds, playing solid defense, and adding a huge and-one when the outcome was still in doubt, and the Bucks totally dominated the extra period. After the game, Michael Redd was named player of the game. Although it is true that without Michael's shot, we wouldn't have won the game, if it were'nt for Ford it would have been a blowout, so he was my player of the game.

What impressed me most about the Bucks, besides their resiliency, was the bench. Toni Kukoc, Dan Gadzuric and Charlie Bell were huge for us. Toni provided great leadership whenever the Sixers would trap in the halfcourt, and he also scored on a variety of floaters and runners. Gadzuric was his usual great self, showing off an improved offensive game and hitting an amazing baseline fadeaway jumper. Bell was probably sixth man of the game. He hit all four of his shots including a three, and played the best defense of any Buck all game. People had high expectations of him going in, but he managed to outlive them in just 13 minutes.

On the other hand Jamaal Magloire was terrible, hacking wildly at anyone who came into the lane, turning the ball over six times, and generally looking lost in the paint. He fouled out in overtime. The only bright spot was the final stop on Webber, because for the rest of the game Webber dominated from the start, beating Magloire on a simple little up-and-under move on the game's first possesion. This begs the question, why wasn't Gadzuric starting?!? He's been with this team for three years and has been great all three. Magloire came in for only three days and he gets the starters job? Magloire played 38 minutes to Gadzuric's 15. If Gadzuric was in the game for 38 minutes he would've finished with 21 points and 8 rebounds, compared with Magloire's 4 and 9. I think I'm going to keep a season-long journal on the screwing of Gadzuric.

Redd was pretty much a non-factor for the entire game, shooting 5-16 until his game-tying three, and not playing much defense, but he lit up in the fourth quarter and overtime, scoring sixteen. Simmons had the best debut of any of the new Bucks (not counting Ford) with 22 points and an amazing 12 rebounds, many of which were keyin the fourth quarter. I only remember seeing him score twice, so he was quietly efficient. Bogut also had a pretty good debut, scoring 13 and grabbing 9 rebounds, and was, like I said, great in overtime.

The Bucks win shouldn't blind us to the negatives of the game, though. We turned the ball over way too many times, and were far too succeptible to the trap. We also, like I said didn't play very good interior defense. Some of the discrepancy in points in the paint between Philly and Milwaukee can be attributed to turnovers, but a lot of it was not putting up resistance whenever Iverson or Webber got to the hole. Webber finished with 32 and Iverson 35.

All in all though, it was a pretty good showing for the first game of the season, and if we can show the same resiliency against a much better New Jersy team tonight, we might be able to win this one too.