After a momentary interlude by way of a loss to the Celtics, the Bucks once again proved that they are really good at beating bad teams.
Despite 16 first-half points from Gerald Henderson (and 29 overall), the Bucks pulled out to a double-digit lead in the second quarter — thanks to their bench — and held Charlotte at bay for the remainder of the game.
Ersan Ilyasova scored 15 points and collected 8 rebounds, while Drew Gooden tallied 14 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 assists, including a pretty backdoor dish for a Brandon Jennings layup to start the third quarter. It was a sign of things to come; the Bucks scored a relatively unimpeded 60 points in the second half as they pulled away to victory.
MVP: Luc Mbah a Moute
Luc Richard scored 20 points. He didn’t make a shot outside of five feet from the rim.
Also: It’s also not a coincidence that when Mbah a Moute and Ekpe Udoh go into a game, the other team stops scoring. Tonight, the pair drew out a Bobcats’ scoring drought of nearly six minutes that bridged the first and second quarters. When Luc and Ekpe get matched up with the Derrick Browns and Byron Mullinses of the league, they will come out ahead simply by virtue of not letting substandard scorers score.
Mbah a Moute had a game-high +/- rating of +21, with Udoh and benchmate Mike Dunleavy tied for second at +16.
Here is an example of a typical bench squad bucket: With Beno Udrih dribbling on the right side, Mike Dunleavy came across the lane and set a back pick on Byron Mullens, who was guarding Luc. As Mullens got caught on Dunleavy, Mbah a Moute darted to the rim, and Derrick Brown (who was guarding Dunleavy on the play) mostly just got lost. After a Beno bullet sidearm pass, Luc dunked the ball home with no defender within seven feet of him (and that closest man was looking the other way, no less).
For the night, the Bucks outscored the Bobcats in the paint by a 72-34 margin.
LVP: Monta Ellis
Gerald Henderson made 13 of 19 field goal attempts. He scored his points in all manner of ways, too: in the low post, on pull-up jumpers, on backdoor passes, etc… On nearly all of them, Monta Ellis was the defender getting beat. The concern about a small backcourt is very, very real. Be afraid.
On the plus side, Monta got to the free throw line ten times. So there’s that.
This should please you, if you appreciate the ABA: Throwback Uniforms
The Bobcats wore retro-styled uniforms of the Carolina Cougars of the American Basketball Assocation (see Bismack Biyombo, right). The cartoon cat detail on the stripe of the shorts is FABULOUS. Compared to the regular Bobcats uni, this design is a revelation. Wouldn’t this team be easier to market as the ‘Carolina Cougars’? Or, at the very least, the ‘Carolina Bobcats’?
For something Bucks related, Beno Udrih dished out a team-high eight assists as the Bucks once again topped the 30-assist mark, the sixth time in eight games that they have done so.
This should worry you: Free-throw shooting
Coming into tonight’s game, the Bucks led the NBA in free-throw percentage (79.5%). In this game, they put up a measly 12-for-21 mark (57.1%). Normally, such an off night could have cost the Bucks the game, so perhaps it’s a good thing then that they chose tonight to clunk away?
Tweets of the Night:
@Bucksketball: Monta really loves to attack off the pick and roll. He doesn’t love as much to pass to the screener.
@CardboardGerald: the next time i’m at a bobcats game i’m going to plant a tree on the court and hopefully it grows into something that can defend the paint
@Slowingtime: What the Bucks appear to need is more Corey Maggette jump shots off the dribble.
Final verdict: Ground gained
The Bucks won. The Celtics and Knicks lost. As a result, Milwaukee is one step closer to a spot in the playoffs, plus they are guaranteed at least one win during a difficult string of three games in three nights. But a playoff berth won’t be worth much to a team that pads its won-loss record on the league’s bottom feeders. They need to start finding wins against good teams, too.