Welcome back to mediocrity! The Minnesota Timberwolves ran the high pick-and-roll all game long with moderate success and it was more than enough to outscore an inefficient Bucks offense. The 95-85 loss slides the Bucks back to familiar ground: .500. Worse, Beno Udrih injured himself on a fourth-quarter drive. Udrih awkwardly sprained his right ankle, but also appeared to be holding his knee as he fell in the row of photographers behind the baseline.
If — and only if — there is consolation to be taken in arbitrary milestones set in a base ten number system, Larry Sanders earned a triple double: ten points, 12 rebounds, and ten blocks. While the blocks tied a Bucks’ record held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and genuinely contributed to keeping the Bucks close for much of the game, six of the points came late in the game after the Timberwolves had full control over the outcome.
A balanced Timberwolves attack saw five Minnesota scorers — Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, Alexy Shved, J.J. Barea, and Luke Ridnour — all score between 14 and 16 points each. Love and Pekovic set the big screens, the guards handled the ball, and they all made reasonably sound decisions in one of the most basic and effective of basketball plays. Plus, Shved hit four of his six three-point attempts.
On the Bucks’ end of things, it was much uglier.
For most of the game, the offense lay tattered in shambles. Most shot attempts involved a player dribbling covered toward the hoop, guarded, and trying to see if they could get the shot in anyway. There were times that the offensive woes were masked.
Sanders and the defense covered up the offensive ineptitude in the third quarter; Minnesota could only muster 11 points. But the Bucks could only spot 16 for themselves while converting six of 23 field goal attempts.
In the first quarter, Milwaukee scored 30 points, but with only three assists. The ball definitely wasn’t moving… nor was it creating good shots. The leading scorer for the period was John Henson, who did a nice job turning four offensive rebounds — boldly earned over master rebounder Love — into eight points. Henson still looks to be making his defensive decisions a step slowly, but he was not the problem on the evening.
Tobias Harris and Samuel Dalembert both started the game and contributed very little.
Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis each scored 18 points. That sounds great doesn’t it?
But for every solid play that Monta made, he made three face-buriers. In fact, here are three quickies:
1) Late in the first quarter, both teams scrapped around for a rebound after Sanders blocked Pekovic’s first shot and Pekovic missed his putback. Henson grabbed it, passed to Jennings, and the Bucks got out to run.
Love didn’t bother getting back on the play at all. So who was open then?
Turned out it was John Henson.
Monta has Henson wide open in the lane for a pass — a pass than Ellis initially faked, then decides against. But Monta presses on undaunted by basketball reality. He dribbled hard right for an off-balance runner while Shved moved his feet and put his hands up straight over his head to deter the shot.
It clanged wide and the Wolves got two points out of the resulting Love fast break.
2) Pekovic tried to post up Dalembert in the first minutes of the second half.
Ellis crept down slowly toward the post, drifting further away from Ridnour at the top of the three-point circle. There was zero element of surprise here; Ellis and Pekovic were essentially staring right at each other. And Pekovic isn’t even that big of a threat at this distance from the hoop. It was a completely pointless double team, but Ellis tried it anyway.
To make matters worse, after Pekovic passed it over Ellis’ head like a grown-up over a child, Monta used a trotted back toward Ridnour with a pace that can best be described as ‘merry’.
3) This one didn’t cost the Bucks any points, but what were you looking at here, Monta?
Shved skated past Monta on a blind side that Ellis should never have had in the first place. Monta needed to trust his teammates to call out the screens, while keeping his eyes fixed on his own man.
Henson mercifully erased the mistake for Ellis’ sake, but it was atrocious defense regardless of the outcome.
Tweets of the Night
— Steven von Horn (@StevevonHorn) December 1, 2012
Beno had an x-ray in the arena and results were negative. He’ll have an MRI tomorrow.
— Bucks PR (@BucksPR) December 1, 2012
So @bucksketball says Ersan doesn’t deserve the minutes and he gets a DNP-CD the next game? That’s some serious sway.
— K L Chouinard (@AnaheimAmigos) December 1, 2012
— KT™ (@kmtgod) December 1, 2012
@anaheimamigos with great power comes great responsibility.
— Jeremy Schmidt (@Bucksketball) December 1, 2012