Jon Leuer got his first taste of action as an NBA starter and everyone in Milwaukee seemed to like it, even Ersan Ilyasova.
Leuer scored 15 points (6/9 FG), grabbed six rebounds, and tossed five assists, while Ilyasova tallied 14 points and 6 rebounds coming off the bench. Stephen Jackson continued his hot shooting and heady overall play, pacing the Bucks with 25 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Brandon Jennings led the team with 27 points on a magnificently chosen 15 shots.
The Bucks offense, spurred by the lineup change, showed remarkable balance and flow, with many clever passes leading to layups and dunks. With five capable passers in the lineup, the current group of starters doesn’t resemble the scattered bunch that finished last season dead last in virtually every significant offensive category. In addition to the 11 assists generated by the Bucks forwards, Carlos Delfino dished out 4 of his own, while Andrew Bogut and Jennings had 3 apiece.
The Bucks have now twice won consecutive games with 24 or more assists in each game, a feat which last year’s squad accomplished exactly zero times. They also remain one of five teams unbeaten at home this season.
That’s not to say that this was a totally one-sided affair, because it wasn’t. Greg Monroe backed Andrew Bogut down for 32 points and 16 rebounds, driving past Bogut on multiple occasions. One has to wonder if Tim Duncan’s barrage of jump shots Tuesday left an impression on Bogut, because he seemed determined to take those same shots away from Monroe. Monroe, for his part, took advantage of the opportunity to get around and aside Bogut.
Bogut didn’t have his best game, and he looked fatigued at spots, but he also subtly provided the help defense that the Pistons lacked. While the Pistons rode the low-post moves of Monroe and the slashing forays of Brandon Knight (20 points, 7/9 FG) to claw back multiple times into a game that verged on a blowout, the Bucks were tossing around the ball in the paint to generate easy looks at the rim.
It could have been a different story, though, if the Pistons’ Tayshaun Prince (6/17 FG) hadn’t massacred a bushelful of baseline and corner jump shots. But in the end, as they almost always do, dunks and layups win out over jump shots.
And with another well-assisted home win, the Bucks are receiving lots of positive reinforcement in that lesson.