The Bucks returned to the fast-passing team that has chewed up sub-.500 teams since the All-Star break, defeating the Detroit Pistons, 113-97.
In a third quarter that turned a back-and-forth affair into a game that Milwaukee controlled, the Bucks made 14 field goals — and assisted on all 14 of them. Coach Lawrence Frank simmered on the sidelines like Scott Skiles’ smaller, far less intimidating little brother.
For the game, the Bucks assisted on 36 of 45 baskets (80%). Brandon Jennings (20 points, 8/14 FG, 10 assists) and Monta Ellis (18 points, 7/12 FG, 7 assists) controlled the tempo of the game
The Pistons made a late run to pull within 10 points late in the fourth quarter, much to the delight of 127 fans still in attendance.
Is Ersan’s slump over? Ilyasova’s first half wasn’t pretty, but in the second half he scored 12 points and grabbed 7 rebounds — plus he punctuated the air with a few emotional outbursts after solid plays. If the Bucks are serious about making a playoff run, they will need him to be relevant in games against contenders. Indiana comes to the Bradley Center tomorrow.
MVP: Drew Gooden
When the Bucks play a playoff contender with talent on the perimeter and size in the paint, Drew Gooden is a liability because he doesn’t protect the rim against penetration and can’t rebound against elite athletes.
When the Bucks match up with a lottery-bound also-ran, Drew Gooden (26 points, 12/18 FG, 8 assists, 5 rebounds) is a well-oiled offensive cog — the de facto third point guard on the floor. His passes from the top of the key were crisp, quick, and on point. His jumper was ripping dead center through the nets.
At one point, he even broke out a back-to-front between-the-legs dribble. Needless to say, he was feeling it.
LVP: Mike Dunleavy
About a month ago, if Mike Dunleavy rose for a jump shot, my interest would pique in anticipation of a made basket. Sometime this week – during those same moments – I started to cringe instead. His stroke just does not look right lately.
To his credit, he has not let the missed shots impact the other areas of his game (15 mins, 1/6 FG, 5 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist).
Tweets of the game:
@Stareagle: Ersan Ilyasova decides to hit some jumpers to see if Mason can pronounce his name the same way twice in a row.
@Ian_Segovia: There’s nothing I’d take more satisfaction in than keeping the Sixers out of the playoffs. I will never forget 2001. I was there.
@StevevonHorn: I want the Bucks to win just enough times to stay in the playoff race to never play Tobias Harris. That’d just be great.
Final verdict: Still in the hunt
The 76ers dropped a 95-89 decision at home to the Nets. The Knicks excommunicated the Wizards in Madison Square Garden, 103-65. As a result, the 76ers and Knicks both sit two games ahead of the Bucks with seven games left.
The Bucks have a much better chance of catching Philadelphia due to the fact that the two teams meet again this season. In that game, the Bucks can gain ground and win the first-level tiebreaker of head-to-head record.
But if the Bucks scrape into the playoffs, they will likely earn a series against the top-seeded Bulls, whose fans have repeatedly taken over the Bradley Center this season for Bulls games. Is a first-round Chicago invasion really worth hoping for?