The Bucks’s three-game winning streak ended in Charlotte. They lost, 102-98, to the Bobcats in a game that was both notable and completely forgettable for myriad reasons.
Monta Ellis scored 31 points and provided the engine that propelled the offense for the game’s first 46 minutes. Down by two points with less than a minute to go and needing a stop, Ellis even created a steal by sliding over laterally and blocking an attempted penetration by Ramon Sessions. But on the next possession, he missed a three-point shot that ultimately sealed the Bucks’ fate.
Side note: In one of my pickup games, there is a player who is, in a word, the worst. It isn’t because his pregnant belly slows him down to the point that his only means of competing is to start every move — both offensively and defensively (Yay!) — with a forearm push-off. It isn’t because he wears cotton, gym class-level short shorts or is a dead ringer for Toby Kimball.
No, it’s because being in his presence requires stomaching the most repugnant, wrenching odor beyond imagination — a literal breath-stealing haze that is equal parts decaying mulch, fecal matter, and corpse. Every time that unseen wall smacks the remains of my olfactory sense, my stomach sinks in my body as if every other internal organ has completely vanished.
I’m not entirely positive, but I have a hunch that’s how the Bucks feel this morning.
The Bucks started out slowly, so in that sense they have no one to blame but themselves. Kemba Walker scored 15 first-half points on six shots without missing any of them or being challenged enough to do so. But they blocked seven shots in the first two quarters, and Beno Udrih racked up seven assists as well, and the Bucks did enough to only trail by a single point at halftime.
The Bucks played much better in the second half. In the third quarter, they made 62% of their field goals while the Bobcats only converted 39%. The maligned starting frontcourt made all four of its shots, Monta continued to score in bunches, and Larry Sanders — who had played sparingly to that point with foul trouble — came in to give the squad a boost. On one sequence, Sanders blocked a shot, rebounded the ball, and dribbled to halfcourt. After handing off to a guard, he took the ball back 18 feet from the basket and, after the defense completely retreated, he swished a smooth-looking jump shot. He would follow it with two layups soon after.
Skiles went to his best lineup to start the fourth quarter: Sanders, Ekpe Udoh, Mike Dunleavy, Udrih, and whichever starting guard happens to be the hot hand. For this game, it was Ellis, and this lineup combination performed immaculately for half a quarter.
The Bobcats did not score a field goal for over five minutes. The Bucks built an 11-point lead — a lead attributable to its multi-armed maelstrom of defense. When Udoh got his five foul with nine minutes to go, John Henson replaced him and the defense kept up its fury.
But the Bucks stopped making baskets in the final minutes. After Udrih was replaced by Brandon Jennings with 5:36 remaining, the Bucks only managed two field goals for the rest of the game. Jennings struggled all night to find an offensive niche that never materialized. His defense didn’t even look like it was searching for a niche.
It should be noted that the Bobcats themselves only made three baskets in the same stretch. The referees, however, gifted Charlotte with 16 free throws in the final quarter, and the Bobcats made all 16 of them. If those shots were well-deserved, then Milwaukee certainly deserved more than the four free throw attempts they were given in the quarter. Monta, in particular, was raked on a number of occasions.
The Bucks only shot 11 free throws for the entire game, (compared to 30 for the Bobcats) despite attempting more shots that Charlotte in the paint (45-43).
Doron Lamb and John Henson scored six points apiece while contributing a total of 20 valuable minutes off the bench. Lamb, in particular, made all three of his shots. Evidently, he wasn’t fouled on any shots in the game (see above).
Mike Dunleavy blocked a career-high four shots. The Bucks blocked 12 shots total, they made eight more field goals than Charlotte in the loss. However, the Bucks only made 2-0f-16 three-point shots.
The Bucks play in Miami against the defending champion Heat Wednesday.
Tweets of the Night:
Beno Udrih, reigning King of the PUJIT.
— Zach Lowe (@ZachLowe_NBA) November 20, 2012
Can Dunleavy just be a Buck forever?? Please??
— Joel Przytrilla (@Dakota_Schmidt) November 20, 2012
On the possession following the one where Samuel Dalembert missed a running jump shot with 0:50 left.
If I were the Bucks here, I’d run something where there’s no chance of Sammy touching the ball.
— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) November 20, 2012