Milwaukee Bucks Game Reviews: Hot Hornets Keep Pace Until Sanders Rejects Them

Nov 17, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks center Larry Sanders (8) dunks during the game against the New Orleans Hornets at the Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE

In an up-and-down game played at a breakneck pace — which on paper should be a speed that favors a Milwaukee Bucks team that is the fastest in the NBA — the New Orleans Hornets hung around for 47 minutes.

A quick look at the box score shows why — the Hornets were making their shots.  They matched the Bucks shot-for-shot for 47 minutes.  On the second night of a back-to-back set of games, the Hornets made 19-of-20 free throws (95%), 10-of-21 three-point attempts (48%), and  41-of-77 field goals overall (53%).  They missed scarcely a handful of open shots on the night.

But that was part of the problem.  The Bucks gave them far too many open looks until the end.

Down four points with less than 20 seconds to play, the Hornets’ Ryan Anderson drove to the hoop and tried to score over Larry Sanders.  A resounding rejection from Sanders sealed the game.

Some things that worked well:

Efficiency times two

Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings played efficient games in the same night?  Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings played efficient games in the same night.  Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings played efficient games in the same night!!!

It’s so nice that it finally happened.  It would have been a zillion times better if it happened in a convincing win.

The pair finished with nearly identical lines:  Both scored 22 points.  Both made 8-of-16 field goals.  Both set up their teammates with nine assists.  Best of all?  The two combined for just one turnover; that’s one huge factor that helped them overcome the efficient Hornets attack.

It should also be noted that in this back-and-forth shootout, Monta hit two huge jump shots from the top of the key when the rest of the Bucks offense had started to sputter.  The four points essentially provided the margin of victory.

Nov 17, 2012; Milwaukee, WI, USA; New Orleans Hornets forward Anthony Davis (23) tries to get around Milwaukee Bucks forward John Henson (31) at the Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE

John Henson’s debut of consequence

It wasn’t John Henson‘s debut, nor was it his highest scoring game to date.  But in his third regular-season appearance, John Henson came off the bench in a close game to play meaningful minutes.  He didn’t disappoint.

With Larry Sanders in foul trouble, Henson came in the game to guard fellow rookie and #1 overall draft pick Anthony Davis (a career-high 28 points).  Henson grabbed a rebound.  He made a basket.  He stole a pass.  Best of all, when Davis tried to make a move on the baseline, Henson stood his ground and Davis lost the ball out of bounds.

The Bucks outscored the Hornets by nine points during Henson’s seven-minute venture.

Scoring in threes:

The Bucks made 13-of-25 three-pointers in the game (52%), including matching 4-of-7 performances from Mike Dunleavy and Jennings.

In a game where they top the 50% mark from long range, the Bucks should probably win the game going away. They didn’t perhaps we should move on.

Tobias Harris made 2-of-4 three-pointers from the corner.  He still looks comfortable and the sample size is growing in tiny increments.  Might he be able to sustain this level of production (or something approximate to it)?  For the season, he has made 5-of-10 of the shots.

Some things that didn’t work well:

Teams attacking Ersan Ilyasova in the pick-and-roll.  The Hornets feasted on this play in the third quarter, and most of the times it involved Ersan Ilyasova.  New Orleans would run a point guard/power forward pick-and-roll while clearing out their other three players to the wings.

At one point, after a made point guard jump shot, Brandon Jennings made an irritated, exaggerated motion to Ilyasova to move closer to the play and hedge the screen — while on the next play on offense.  I’m not sure if he was trying to make a point to Ersan, or if he was trying to let the folks in the arena know that the made jumper wasn’t his fault, but he kept at it for about 20 seconds.

Helping the help defender rebound:

The Bucks were the better offensive rebounding team tonight — they pulled down 16 offensive rebounds compared to the Hornets’ eight.

But in the fourth quarter the Hornets got four offensive rebounds, most of which resulted in easy tip-ins.  The problem?  When New Orleans got penetration, the Bucks interior defenders would slide over to protect the rim.  While that was enough to sway the initial shot aside, other Bucks defenders needed to collapse and help rebound at the rim.

They didn’t.  Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson did the rest.

Ekpe Udoh on the stretch-4 power forwards:

It happened almost a week ago when the Bucks were in their last dogfight in Philly and it happened again tonight: Ekpe Udoh got matched up with a three-point shooter and he got burned a bit.  Tonight, it was Ryan Anderson early in the fourth quarter getting wide open looks. Udoh had sagged far too deeply in the paint looking — as he always does — to be the ultimate help defender.  But when it comes to the drive-and-kick offense, the Hornets are built more for the ‘kick’ end then for the ‘drive’ end.  They want the open jump shots that come from those kickouts.  Anderson is a terrific three-point shooter who out-Ersan’ed Ersan Ilyasova for the Sixth Man of the Year Award last season.

Fortunately, by the end of the game, the Bucks — both Udoh and Ilyasova — had changed their point of emphasis with the stretch-4 forward.  On the game-saving block, Anderson wanted a three, but the defense was there, so he pump-faked and drove to the hoop. Sanders took care of the rest.

Tweets of the Game:

On creating a promotional campaign for NBA rookies John Henson and Anthony Davis:

Topics: Brandon Jennings, Larry Sanders, Milwaukee Bucks, Monta Ellis

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