For a half, nearly everything the Bucks did went according to the script they wrote during the offseason.
But after building a 14-point lead early in the third quarter, Milwaukee collapsed during a 26-7 run by the Bobcats to close out the third quarter, and eventually fell to Charlotte, 96-95.
The Bucks rallied late to erase a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Dunleavy sank a long 3-pointer to put the Bucks back ahead with 1:20 left, and a driving lefty runner by Bogut restored a lost lead in the final minute. D.J. Augustin then scored past Beno Udrih to put the Bobcats back ahead for good.
The Bucks squandered the fresh opportunity of a brand-new season. While the offense was slightly more potent than it was last season, many of last year’s problems reared up again.
Brandon Jennings manufactured looks at the rim and failed to convert. Even without resorting to the jump shot until the fourth quarter, he shot 8-21 FG for the game.
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.
Bogut had a nice game (7-14 FG, 3-4 FT, 9 rebounds), but the Bucks can’t expect him to play 37+ minutes per game this season — especially given the condensed schedule.
Where are you now, Joel Przybilla?
Stephen Jackson’s debut was a complete sham. In 17 minutes of action, he picked up six fouls, a technical foul, an airball, and one lonely rebound — and he did all of it while making just one of his five shot attempts. Perhaps it’s not fair to harp on it, but would it be reasonable to say that a 33-year-old NBA player with a back back and a shaky hamstring shouldn’t spend his pregame nights clubbing?
The Bucks came up short in two surprising areas: help defense and rebounding. In addition to being a step late with weakside help on attempts near the rim, Milwaukee also got crushed on the boards (52-39). The absence of Luc Mbah a Moute, due to knee tendinitis, may have hurt them in those areas.
It’s easy to caught up in the pessimism of last year when 1) the Bucks lost and 2) they shot 40.5% FG for the game. But new seasons are about hope, and if there was one bright spot in the game, it was certainly the play of Shaun Livingston. Livingston had 14 points (6-10 FG), 4 rebounds, and a team-leading 6 assists. He showed the ability to play in the post and generate good looks for his teammates. If there’s one problem from last season that has been fixed, it’s the backup point guard spot.