In the oddest, most unexpected single player outburst of the season, Samuel Dalembert scored a career-high 35 points against the Nuggets in Denver, and yet the Bucks still lost, 112-104.
How? How do you lose when a guy averaging 5.7 points per game makes 17 of his 21 shot attempts and sets a team high for made baskets this season? How do you lose when you have the first NBA player ever to record 35-point, 12-rebound game in less than 28 minutes?
The correct answers begin with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis.
To make matters worse, the Bucks lost their most important player this season, Larry Sanders, to an injury in the fourth quarter. He had to be helped off the court and into the locker room, from which he did not return.
But back to Dalembert. It sure seemed like he made everything. Every 15-foot jumper. Every layup. Every dunk. When he pawed at offensive rebounds to keep the ball alive, they bounced around the rim and fell in. He scored 27 points in his first 12 minutes on the floor. He hit 16 of his first 17 shots.
Midway through the fourth quarter, the Bucks led by seven points, 100-93. The Nuggets, despite a crushing advantage in free throws attempted and made, had not had a lead for the entire game. From that point on, the Nuggets outscored the Bucks 19-4 and won handily.
Dalembert’s Outlier Game had propelled Milwaukee’s offense, but when he handed the reins back to Jennings and Ellis in the fourth quarter, it once again sputtered. Jennings missed all five of his shots, mostly difficult leaners and drives. Ellis shot 2-for-7 in the quarter. When the Nuggets got their first lead, Ellis drove baseline and finished with a 360-degree missed layup. The pair combined for three turnovers that got the Denver fast break out and running, but some of their high degree-of-difficulty missed shots had the same effect.
Jennings also made just two of five free throws in the quarter.
Mike Dunleavy didn’t do much in the game, but he did get drilled in the head with two elbows from Danilo Gallinari. One was called an offensive foul on Gallinari, but the other was called a foul on Dunleavy, and it resulted in the circus-shot, three-point play that cinched the win for Denver.
Sanders played well patrolling the paint until his injury. He finished with 12 points, five rebounds, and three blocks. He also shared some court time with Dalembert in a “Twin Towers”-look that worked reasonably well.
The speed of Denver’s game disrupted any rhythm to Ersan Ilyasova‘s game. When he wasn’t airballing failed post-up plays, he was fouling speedy Nuggets with whom he could not keep pace.
The Bucks had only three guards for the game, as Marquis Daniels missed the beginning of the trip due to a family issue. Somehow, despite the fact that Jennings and Ellis combined for 24 points on 36 shots, Beno Udrih only played 14 minutes. Jennings and Ellis tallied 40 and 42 minutes, respectively. Thin air or not, that’s an imbalance that lies at Jim Boylan’s feet. Udrih should have played more. It wasn’t a matchup problem, either. Andre Miller played over 22 minutes for Denver — and mixed in some flat-footed blowbys of Jennings. Udrih should have played 22 (or more) as well.
Larry Sanders was injured in the fourth quarter when he slid over to prevent Kenneth Faried an open dunk down the middle of the lane. Sanders took a step to middle, stood his ground, and went straight up. Meanwhile, Faried took a running start, jumped off two feet, and plowed into Sanders.
The foul was called on Sanders. The Nuggets attempted 37 free throws, and the Bucks managed to get to the line just 11 times — the same number Ty Lawson had.
According to Bucks PR, Sanders hurt his lower back. Preliminary tests came up negative. Sanders is slated to have more tests done tomorrow, and he is officially listed as ‘questionable’ for tomorrow’s game in Utah.
A few tweets
— NBA Guru (@NBAGuru) February 6, 2013
I’ll always remember where I was and what I was doing when Samuel Dalembert scored 27 points in 12 minutes #EatingAPear
— Curtis Harris (@ProHoopsHistory) February 6, 2013
The following is not a typo: Samuel Dalembert was 16 of 17 from the field for @bucks tonight during his first 18 minutes played.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 6, 2013
“Samuel Dalembert” is trending nationwide. Yeah.
— Preston Schmitt (@pdschmitt1) February 6, 2013
Dalembert’s 17 FGM ties LeBron for most in the league this season.
— Jim Paschke (@Paschketball) February 6, 2013