As statistics, steals and blocks are typically vastly overrated because there aren’t many simple ways to quantify defensive impact. In this game, however, the long arms of Larry Sanders and the quick hands of Brandon Jennings played a crucial role in a 97-88 Bucks win over the Brooklyn Nets.
Jennings five steals indicate well the degree to which Brandon harassed Deron Williams both on the dribble and on passes headed Williams’ way. Jennings also tallied 25 points, seven assists, and six rebounds while proving to be the best marksman in a first half marred by gruesome shooting performances on both sides.
Sanders finished with a seemingly modest six points and six rebounds (and only three fouls!) in 38 minutes, but his four blocks show the degree to which he dissuaded the Nets from scoring inside. With things clogged in the paint, the Nets were stuck. The Nets could not hit a jump shot in the first half. They weren’t off the mark; they didn’t even know where the mark was.
Prior to this game, the Nets’ largest deficit in their new home, the Barclay Center, was 16 points. Tonight, the Bucks built a 29-point lead midway through the third quarter. Up until that point in the game, the Nets had converted 14 of their 51 field goal attempts (27%), and they had well earned the boos that rained at that point. Brooklyn improved from that point on, but the deficit was far too big to overcome.
One concern coming into the game was the size advantage that Joe Johnson held over Monta Ellis. It never materialized — Johnson finished with just 6 points on 8 shots. In fact, Ellis ended up being the productive post player when MarShon Brooks replaced Johnson and got the task of guarding him in the third quarter.
Brooks, however, did propel the Nets offensively in their failed rally. He scored 14 points on five shots and nabbed two steals.
John Henson, Tobias Harris, and Samuel Dalembert — the Bucks’ starting front court from recent losses to the Knicks and Timberwolves — collectively garnered one big “Did Not Play – Coach’s Decision”. The three sat despite a left wrist injury that forced Ekpe Udoh from the game in the second quarter.
Ellis scored 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting from the field. Even better? He only took two shots in the 16-23 foot wasteland of missed Monta pullups. Everything else was closer to the hoop or three point shots. He also made 8-of-9 free throws.
After the game, Skiles noted that Ellis was ill during the game. Please excuse me while I go stash a pair of petri dishes of pneumococcal cultures in the Bucks locker room.
Somewhere it should be noted that Marquis Daniels was solid again. In addition to being the the do-everything glue guy, he scored 13 points and corralled a team-high seven rebounds.
One final thought: When the Nets pushed back into the game late, Gerald Wallace (16 points, 16 rebounds) was very, very good and Joel Przybilla was the complete opposite. With Udoh out, Skiles could have gone to Dalembert to match up with Reggie Evans (and later Kris Humphries). He went to Przybilla, and I wouldn’t be shocked if it had something to do with Dalembert’s remarks about playing time.
A Few Tweets
Brandon Jennings loves playing good basketball in New York City.
— Cole Brown (@colewbrown) December 9, 2012
Other than the initial start of the game, we played pretty well and they didn’t. – Coach Skiles #MILvBKN
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) December 10, 2012
X-rays negative on Udoh as Bucks win 97-88. Jennings with 26 and Ellis 24. — cfgardner (@cf_gardner) December 10, 2012
And one from yesterday’s Golden State game …
Ooh Andrew Bogut Bobblehead Night! His head shakes whenever someone asks if he’s playing tonight.
— Eric Freeman (@freemaneric) December 9, 2012