Since Tom Thibodeau took over the reigns as head coach of the Bulls in 2010, they’ve played the Bucks nine times. His squad has now won all nine times. On Saturday night, they didn’t even need Derrick Rose.
While the scoreboard was a familiar sight — with the Bulls pulling out an ugly 93-86 win — it was an odd night from start to finish for the Bucks.
First, Scott Skiles curiously gave Joel Przybilla — who hadn’t played in 10 days — the nod over Samuel Dalembert as the starting center. Dalembert was apparently dismayed by this decision after the game. Skiles simply chalked it up to a coach’s decision. In reality, it appears Dalembert was relegated to the bench because he showed up late to the arena. We saw something like this last year, too. Skiles suspended Stephen Jackson for one game, after he missed the bus to shootaround in New York.
Then, Milwaukee — the best defensive rebounding team in the NBA coming into the game, with a 77.0 DRB% — was manhandled all night on the glass. The Bulls scored 25 second chance points off 20 offensive rebounds and outrebounded the Bucks by 14. Further, Chicago shot 26 free throws — making 25 — to Milwaukee’s 10. The Bulls shot under 40 percent from the field, but that turned out to be sufficient thanks to the disparities in rebounding and free throws.
Finally, the scare. With the game basically out of hand — Milwaukee was trailing by four points with just over 20 ticks remaining — Brandon Jennings drove left, turned his ankle, threw up a wild shot and dropped to the floor in obvious pain. It put an unceremonious exclamation point on a deflating game — the Bucks’ third consecutive loss and ninth straight to the Bulls. Fortunately, it appears Jennings’ injury isn’t too serious. He vows to be back Monday:
I’ll be playing Monday, little sprain. Thanks for all the hit ups everyone
— BRANDON JENNINGS (@justryod3) November 25, 2012
So, 6-2 looked a lot nicer than 6-5 does, no? Things don’t get easier from here, either. Next up for the Bucks: Bulls, Knicks, Timberwolves, Celtics, Hornets, Spurs, Bobcats and Nets. Hopefully the Bucks will have Jennings for most — if not all — of the upcoming games.
MVP: Tobias Harris
Brandon Jennings (23 points, seven assists, five steals) is perhaps more deserving, but I think it’s time to acknowledge the quiet, yet consistent, offensive production of the starting small forward. Harris — surrounded by a high-usage, inefficient backcourt — has been taking advantage of the scarce opportunities he’s received on offense. Harris scored 10 points on 5-7 shooting, grabbed three rebounds and blocked a shot in 20 minutes of action. He was shooting 57.9 percent from the field and 40.0 percent beyond the arc (65.8 TS%) entering Saturday night’s contest. I think it might be time to draw up a few more plays for Harris — his efficiency will almost certainly go down as his usage increases, but it can’t hurt to take the ball out of the hands of the chucking backourt duo a bit more often. Harris’ defense largely remains a work in progress, but his steady presence on the other side of the court shouldn’t be overlooked.
LVP: Ersan Ilyasova
No new developments here: Ersan is still struggling mightily. After playing Ilyasova just 16 and 17 minutes in the last two games respectively, Skiles rode Ersan for 30 minutes Saturday night. Unfortunately, it did little to catapult the forward out of his slump. Ilyasova responded by posting just six points, six rebounds and three assists. His shot continues to be inconsistent (3-8 shooting, 0-2 on threes), though he did convert consecutive midrange jump shots shortly after intermission. Perhaps more concerning — and unforeseen — is that Ersan’s rebounding and defense have taken dives alongside his shooting. Carlos Boozer — his opponent for much of the game– dominated the paint with 22 points (10-15 shooting) and 19 rebounds. One of these nights…
Ekpe Udoh Rebounds: Eight (Eight!) in just over 18 minutes.
Attendance: 14,812. A decent amount of them were Bulls fans, as per usual.
Tweets of the Night:
Hint: It’s actually not very fun, and it didn’t get any more green after tonight:
Ersan Ilyasova’s shot chart this year, just for fun. twitter.com/StevevonHorn/s…
— Steven von Horn (@StevevonHorn) November 25, 2012
Monta Ellis couldn’t stay with Richard Hamilton, who scored 18 points in the first half:
@stevevonhorn He’s lost him in transition like every time. He’s running around with his arms outstretched making airplane noises.
— Dan Sinclair (@dan_sinclair) November 25, 2012
If Boozer is going to kill the Bucks, then just bring back Derrick Rose. I’d rather he do it. At least he’s humble.
— K L Chouinard (@AnaheimAmigos) November 25, 2012