The Bucks lost a perfectly winnable game to the Cleveland Cavaliers, 113-108, thanks to recent All-Star selection Kyrie Irving.
Irving scored 35 points, including 24 in a blistering second-half that saw the Cavaliers vaporize a 20-point Bucks lead. Cleveland finished the game on a 54-29 run as Milwaukee’s offense sputtered. He KO’d Jennings in a one-on-one battle that barely materialized.
Guessing that Brandon Jennings would either be way up or way down for this game was not a bold prediction. But figuring out how he could be so good for one quarter and so atrocious for the other three takes some doing.
Or maybe it’s not that tough to spot.
Jennings scored 12 points in a third quarter that make 4-of-6 shots. He also made 4-of-6 three-pointers in the period. For the rest of the game, he shot 1-for-13, scoring once on a layup following a Cavs’ defensive breakdown on a pick-and-roll with two minutes left.
That’s it: One layup and a slew of 26- and 28-footers. It’s fun when those shots go down and maddening when they don’t. He also had one of the quietest 12-assist games you’ll ever see.
Throw in the fact, too, that Jennings floaters and stepbacks as he ventures into the paint are an exercise in futility. He simply doesn’t aim them. The contrast between what he does in the paint and how Beno Udrih (21 mins, 7 points, 8 assists) makes space to square himself is staggering.
Lost in the loss was a season-best 30-point effort from Ersan Ilyasova. He scored 15 points in the second quarter as the Bucks jumped out to a nine-point halftime lead. Ilyasova has now set season highs in three consecutive games.
Monta Ellis scored 21 points on 20 shots to pair with nine assists and six rebounds. For better or for worse, it was a typical Monta game. It was nice to see him get enough arc to make a couple of three-pointers. I’m sure, too, that he would love to be accorded the same level of respect that Irving gets on contact in the paint. That shouldn’t take away from Irving, though. He’s a breathtakingly fluid player capable of creating high-percentage looks for himself at will.
John Henson continued to exhibit soft touch and nimble footwork the paint. He stepped into a first-quarter turnover-fest and made it respectable with a pair of baskets inside. After five minutes of action in the first half, he played less than two in the second.