The Bucks were finally on the right side of 100 points and a blowout Friday night. After dropping seven of their last nine games in convincing fashion — reaching the century mark just once — Milwaukee set an aggressive tone early and routed the Charlotte Bobcats 108-93.
Naturally, the satisfying win wasn’t locally televised.
Scott Skiles’ starting lineup — the same one that dug his team into a 17-0 hole against Boston — sparked the Bucks to a 33-20 first-quarter lead. Larry Sanders played stout defense against Brendan Haywood in the first five minutes, forcing Charlotte’s center into a turnover and three ugly shots. While Sanders and Ekpe Udoh set the early tone defensively, Marquis Daniels scored 10 points in the first eight minutes on an array of moves — a corner three, coast-to-coast three-point play, and a pair of contested layups. The Bucks’ hot start can also be attributed to getting to the line early. Milwaukee attempted 12 free throws in the first quarter, while Charlotte only took a single trip to the line. This unfamiliar sight didn’t continue, however, as the Bobcats eventually evened up the attempts at 32 by the end of the game.
The Bucks ceased full control of the game by halftime with steady energy on both ends of the court and entered intermission with a 58-40 lead. Brandon Jennings scored all of his points in the first half and led the Bucks with 15 at intermission, while Ersan Ilyasova and Daniels chipped in 14 and 10, respectively.
Milwaukee maintained a healthy 20-point plus lead for most of the second half, until Skiles cleared the bench halfway through the fourth quarter. Ilyasova finished the night as the game’s leading scorer and rebounder with 21 and 12 in 19 minutes off the bench, earning him his first double-double this season. Daniels finished the game with 18 points — his highest scoring mark in nearly two years (19 points, Jan. 10, 2011, Rockets vs. Celtics) — on an efficient 11 shots. He’s hit his last four three-point attempts, which is an impressive feat considering Daniels is a career 22.4 percent shooter beyond the arc. Monta Ellis also hit double figures and tallied five assists, but he once again struggled from the field (3-11).
The Bobcats actually shot better from the field than the Bucks (44.4 percent vs. 40.4 percent), but the story of the game came on the glass — with Milwaukee continually getting second-chance opportunities. The Bucks snagged 23 offensive rebounds, attempted 13 more field goals, and outrebounded the Bobcats 59-45.
MVP DNP Watch: The wait is over. Despite an all-around impressive performance, the crowd reserved their biggest ovation of the night for Drew Gooden‘s entrance, his first of the season. Skiles summoned Gooden off the bench – after his permission, apparently – with eight minutes remaining in the game. It wasn’t a pretty debut, as he missed all four field goal attempts, but he did manage to hit a couple free throws, grab four rebounds and emphatically block a shot. Unfortunately, Gooden also became the de facto leader of the mop-up brigade – consisting of Doron Lamb, Joel Przybilla, John Henson and Tobias Harris – which struggled mightily in the final minutes. They let the Bobcats cut the sizable lead to single digits at one point during the last couple minutes.
Injury Updates: Luc Mbah a Moute has looked pretty healthy and explosive since returning from offseason knee surgery this past week, but it’s been a façade, apparently:
Talked to Mbah a Moute after the game. He was pretty bummed out about how his knee felt and where he’s at physically right now.
— Jeremy Schmidt (@Bucksketball) December 8, 2012
This is an unfortunate development, because Mbah a Moute has been noticeably more aggressive and comfortable handling the ball. He’s attempting 6.5 shots per game in just over 18 minutes this season – up from his career average of 5.6 attempts in 25 minutes. The Prince scored nine points Friday night, four of which came from consecutive skilled post-up moves. He airballed his next shot attempt – a hook shot – but it looks like he’s expanding his offensive game. Hopefully, his knees will hold up, so we can continue to monitor this progression.
Meanwhile, there’s equally gloomy news on the Beno Udrih front. Andrew Gruman reported Udrih will remain out for at least the next week, as swelling in his ankle has yet to subside.
The Bucks’ bench mob desperately needs their leaders – Udrih and Mike Dunleavy – back in the lineup. Dunleavy’s left knee bruise is still bothering him, but he’s presumably closer to action than Udrih. He was a game-time decision Friday before being scratched.
Ekpe Udoh Rebounds: Six in 22 minutes. Udoh’s rebounding rates are quickly approaching his career averages, so there’s that!
Tweets of the Night:
Sure, Skiles, bring Drew Gooden in the game when we can’t see it!
— Becky (@B3ckyJ) December 8, 2012
It appears Tyrus Thomas, who’s out for a couple months with a calf injury, was a dedicated cheerleader tonight. That’s significantly more productive than requesting steaks from the bench. Reminisce:
— Ben Swanson (@CardboardGerald) December 8, 2012
This Marquis Daniels offense seems unsustainable.
— Ian Segovia (@Ian_Segovia) December 8, 2012
THE MVP IS IN THE BUILDING
— FREE DREW GOODEN (@DrewGooden4MVP) December 8, 2012