Trophy Hunters
28-30.

4/11/12

Knicks 111-107 Bucks

The game certainly lived up to its billing as both squads truly played like a playoff spot was on the line tonight, but New York came out victorious at the end after scoring the final 6 points of the game. 

Game

Following the blowout at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder, Bucks fans had reason to be nervous early. The Knicks raced out to an early lead, and found themselves up 36-27 after the first quarter. Rather than allow it to weigh them down, however, the Bucks quickly stamped out the fire and roared back to turn the tables in the 2nd quarter, which they won 35-26. Entering the halftime break, the teams were tied 62-62 on the strength of hot shooting from both sides. New York shot a blistering first-half 61% from the field, but Milwaukee wasn’t too far back with a nice 55% clip of their own. The Knicks also outrebounded the Bucks, 21-16 in the first half. Monta Ellis raced off to 21 first-half points on 8-12 shooting and 2-4 from distance. He also had 7 assists and 4 steals in a ridiculous first half for the new Buck who’s fitting in perfectly.

The 3rd quarter was neck-and-neck the whole way, with no one holding a lead higher than 4 points until the Bucks went up 83-78 with just over 2 minutes to go in the quarter. Iman Shumpert hit a floater at the buzzer to pull the Knicks within 4 as the Bucks led 88-84 going into the final quarter. Milwaukee won the quarter 26-22.  

The 4th quarter was just as tight, with no team holding a lead larger than 6 the whole quarter. J.R. Smith knocked down a 3 to give his team a 108-107 lead with about a minute remaining, and the Bucks followed with a fruitless possession that saw multiple offensive rebounds and 0 points. From there, they had to foul, and Steve Novak knocked down both free throws to give the Knicks a 110-107 lead. Jennings then missed a 3 with about 14 seconds left, and the Bucks had to foul New York again. 1 free throw later, the Bucks were 2 possessions away, and a last-ditch effort from Ellis fell short as the Bucks fell, 111-107.

Monta Ellis

Ellis easily had his best performance in a Bucks jersey tonight, shooting 14-25 from the field and 3-6 from range en route to a game-high 35 points. He grabbed 6 rebounds, and also dished 10 assists to pick up his first double-double since coming over to Milwaukee.

Carmelo Anthony

Anthony was not far behind Ellis throughout the game, as he kept pace with 32 points of his own on 13-26 shooting. He also grabbed 10 rebounds, and helped the Knicks keep pace and eventually overtake the Bucks in the 4th quarter. 

Brandon Jennings

The Ellis-Jennings backcourt experiment continues to thrive, with Jennings shooting 10-20 on his way to 22 points of his own. He also dished 7 assists. The duo was as dynamic as ever, but they did not receive enough help from anyone else besides Mike Dunleavy (the only other Buck in double figures, with 19 points). 

Well, this one hurts. That said, the Bucks are still only 2 games back of both final playoff spots, and it’s certainly still possible, if the Bucks stop losing and put themselves into the playoffs. A Friday night visit to Detroit at 7:00 P.M. may be a godsend.

Fear the Deer! 

4/9/2012

Milwaukee Bucks (28-28) vs Oklahoma City Thunder (41-15)

7:00 CST, Bradley Center, Milwaukee Wisconsin

Line: Thunder by 3

They say every rose has its thorn.  Tonight is the thorn in Milwaukee’s rosy schedule of late, as the kings of the Western Conference come to town for a tough match up.  The Thunder, fresh off a 91-75 dismantling of the Raptors, are still fighting to maintain their hold of the top seed in the West.

Led by the 2 1/2 headed monster of Durant, Westbrook and Harden, the Oklahoma City offensive juggernaut ranks 2nd in the league with 102 points per game. The roster is full of players who can get the job done, and take care of their respective roles.

Serge Ibaka

Serge Ibaka, the 22 year old Congolese defensive force, averages 3.5 blocks per game and has yet to perfect his offensive game, a scary thought for the rest of the league. Ibaka is the centerpiece of an interior defense that ranks first in the NBA with 9 blocks per game. Their 32 defensive rebounds puts them 2nd only to the Lakers, and their points allowed figure is inflated due to the high scoring, face paced game run by the offense.  Bucks shooters will have to contend with Ibaka and the forest of bigs waiting for them, and Dunleavy/Delfino will be a key tonight as their perimeter shooting will look to spread out the offensive.

Grand Finale

The last time these two teams met was a truly memorable occasion.  The last game of the 2010-2011 season appeared to have very little inherit drama; Oklahoma City were resting their players, having already clinched the 4th seed in the playoffs.  The Bucks were far out of playoff contention, and were already looking towards the upcoming year.  But as the game worked its way into the 4th quarter,  the Bucks mounted a furious comeback and drew within 3.  With only 23 seconds left, then-Buck forward John Salmons was fouled on a long 3 attempt.  He cooly knocked down all three free throws to send the game into overtime, where Jennings took over, leading the Bucks to victory.  We can only hope that tonight’s game will be that thrilling.

4/2/2012

Milwaukee Bucks (24-28) vs Washington Wizards (12-40)

Verizon Center, Washington DC

Line: Bucks by 7.5

These two teams have seen some significant changes since their last meeting on February 28th.  The Bucks, marred in the midst of dismantlings by the beasts of the East (otherwise known as “Four Nights with the Magic”), were struggling to keep up with the Linsanity in New York and searching for answers.  Brandon Jennings said he was “exploring his options” with big market teams, and Bogut was becoming increasingly disgruntled. The Wizards circus with Javale Mcgee continued, and the team, fresh off the firing of Flip Saunders, still occupied the cellar of the Eastern Conference.

Now the Bucks are in an easier stretch of schedule, and have been playing much better of late.  The Wizards jettisoned Javale McGee, Nick Young, and Ronny Turiaf to the Nuggets and Clippers in return for a borderline All Star in Nene and Brian Cook.  Although the results have not changed, the team looks significantly better, and has been much more competitive with their new lineup.

Nene the Giant

The Brazilian star will miss tonight’s game due to lingering plantar faciitis (i.e. a muscle inflammation in his foot). In his previous game vs Milwaukee as a member of the Nuggets, Nene had a respectable 14 points and 9 rebounds and thoroughly outplayed Andrew Bogut, who managed only 2 points and 6 rebounds.  After trading McGee, the Wizards have very little size to put on the court, with the exception of Nene.  Look for Jennings and Monte to have free reign in driving to the basket.

Shootout Ahead

In their latest of 2 meetings this season, these two teams put on a scoring clinic, with the Bucks eeking out a 119-118 win in Milwaukee. Although the scoring was aided by the two teams combining for 58 free throw attempts, 13 players hit double digits in points, including Ersan Ilyasova in his last second, game winning tip in.  With the Bucks offense having greatly improved with the new additions and the increased chemistry and flow, the 100 point mark should easily be eclipsed tonight, and as a wild card, Dunleavy could have a repeat of his impressive 28 point performance in their last meeting.

23-27!

3/27/12

Bucks 108-101 Hawks

Win! The Bucks get off to a hot start and fight off a late rally by the Hawks to return to their winning ways.

Game

The Bucks have been on fire offensively as of late, and they continued that without exception to start Tuesday night. Monta Ellis shot 5-6 and scored 10 points in the first quarter as the Bucks ended the period with a 31-23 lead. Marvin Williams led the Hawks with 9 points in the 1st. 

The hot start continued into the 2nd quarter which the Bucks led in by 16 at one point. The Hawks eventually cut the lead down but Milwaukee entered the halftime break with a 55-46 lead. Josh Smith shot 8-18 to lead the game with 17 points at halftime, but the Bucks had 4 players in double figures at the half: Monta Ellis with 12 points, Brandon Jennings with 11 and Drew Gooden and Mike Dunleavy with 10 apiece. Atlanta had 14 turnovers to Milwaukee’s 5 in the first half. 

The 3rd quarter was even most of the way, until the Hawks started closing late before eclipsing the Bucks just before the buzzer. The Hawks went into the final quarter leading 79-78 on the strength of Josh Smith’s 22 points and 15 rebounds. Brandon Jennings led the Bucks with 18 points, and Monta Ellis had 16 points entering the last quarter. 

Both teams played well and kept pace with each other in the 4th, with the game being within a possession or two most of the way. Monta Ellis then hit a jumper with 3 and a half minutes left to give the Bucks a 98-91 lead and some breathing room, and the lead never dropped below 4 after that as the Bucks ended up taking the game, . 

Monta Ellis

Ellis had his best performance in a Milwaukee uniform so far with 33 points on 15-24 shooting. He also dished 8 assists, and many of his points came at crucial times for Milwaukee, especially in the 4th quarter to help the Bucks separate and seal the win. Games like this will make trading for Ellis seem like a no-brainer, and hopefully we see more of them.

Josh Smith

Smith did his best to keep up with Ellis, and nearly did with 30 points on 14-26 shooting. He also pulled down 18 rebounds and dished 5 assists, doing it all to keep Atlanta in the game for as long as he could before the Bucks pulled away.

Brandon Jennings

Jennings also had a solid game, shooting 6-13 on his way to 18 points, and also tossing 6 assists. The combination of Jennings and Ellis worked to perfection tonight, and I’m sure even Jennings is okay with taking a step back to Monta on some nights.

Both teams shot 50% for the game, but the Hawks turned it over 22 times to Milwaukee’s 12. The Bucks were able to overcome getting outrebounded 42-36 on the strength of ball security.

The Bucks get a bit of a breather before traveling to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers on Friday night at 6:30 P.M.

Fear the Deer!

3/27/2012

Milwaukee Bucks (22-27) vs Atlanta Hawks (30-20)

7:00 CST, Bradley Center, Milwaukee Wisconsin

Line: Milwaukee by 3

Lets get it out of the way now, last night was embarrassing. The Buck had their best chance of the season to gain in the playoff standings over the rival Knicks; Amare AND Lin out with injuries, Mike Dunleavy going nuts for 23 points in the first half, and the Bucks riding a strong offensive streak. But the rest of the lineup failed to deliver any support (the starting five combined for just 32 points), and the final score reflected that.  Gooden and Ilyasova both found themselves in foul trouble, and their aggressive style was held in check in crucial moments in the game.

I must say, I was honestly suprised to see the line in favor of the Bucks.  After spending the entirety of last nights game with my face in my palm and my voice hoarse from shouting at the inablilty of our offense to manage more than 80 points against a pedestrian, wounded Knicks defense, even this Bucks fan couldn’t imagine why Vegas should think this Milwaukee squad likely to come out with a victory.  The Hawks have stolen the two hard fought games between Atlanta and Milwaukee so far this season, and tonight’s Bucks team must play tough and focused the WHOLE 48 minutes to overcome this one.

Brandon Jennings

In their previous matchup, Jennings scored a game high 34 points, 9 assists en route to a late game 99-94 loss in Atlanta.  Jennings was methodical, easily outmaneuvering Jeff Teague and collecting a pair of steals as well.  However, in a cruel twist of fate, Jeff Teague was substituted out in favor of 32 year old Jannero Pargo, who went on to pester Jennings in a crucial stretch late in the game. Tonight, Jennings will look to capitalize on the mismatch with Teague, and will not have to worry about Pargo, who has been declared out after an appendectomy. 


Monta Ellis

The newcomer Ellis has been a steady contributor to the Bucks high-paced, high-scoring offense since his arrival, averaging 12 points and 5 assists in the early going.  He has also experienced success against this Hawks team earlier in the season, scoring 24 points and 8 assists in an 85-82 win while a member of the Golden State Warriors.  Monta stuggled a bit last night, but overall his integration into the system has been as seamless as can be expected for a player who goes from being a 20 shot a night player to a very important but secondary scoring option on this Bucks team.  Defensively, Ellis shouldnt have trouble against an aging Kirk Hinrich, and has the opportunity to set up some fast break chances. 

19-24!

3/14/12

Bucks 115-105 Cavaliers

The game was tight most of the way until the Bucks started running away with it in the 4th quarter and ended up leaving no doubt in the final margin.

Game

A hard-fought first quarter saw the Cavaliers edge out the Bucks and jump out to a 28-23 lead after 12 minutes. Alonzo Gee was the early big man on campus, shooting 5-8 en route to 12 points. Ersan Ilyasova shot 4-6 for 10 points in the first.

The Bucks kicked off the 2nd with an 11-2 run, but things leveled off from there as the Cavaliers caught up and the teams kept trading baskets. It stayed tight till just before half, when Tobias Harris threw down a dunk to give Milwaukee a 57-55 lead going into the break. Alonzo Gee led the game with 15 points at half, and Ersan Ilyasova just trailed him with 12. Brandon Jennings had 11 points at halftime, and Drew Gooden had 8 points with 9 assists in the first half alone! The Bucks had 23 assists as a team in the first half, a league-wide season high.

The 3rd quarter was very tight all the way, and the game’s first lead over 5 points came when Beno Udrih hit a runner with just under a minute left in the 3rd quarter, to put the Bucks up 82-76. The quarter ended with a 84-78 Bucks lead heading into the final quarter. Drew Gooden had 15 points, 13 assists and 10 rebounds for a triple double (the second of his career, both against Cleveland) before the 3rd quarter was even over. Alonzo Gee and Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 19 and 18 points, respectively. 

The Bucks opened the 4th with 6 straight points to push their lead to 90-78, the biggest of the game at that point. The matchup was never really in doubt again after that point, and with under 4 minutes left, Luc Mbah a Moute threw down an emphatic dunk to give the Bucks a 108-93 lead. That was the dagger, and Milwaukee ended up taking it 115-105.

Kyrie Irving

Irving shot 11-16 and the rookie led all scorers with 28 points. He shot 2-4 from distance and dished out 5 assists. He seemed to score at will and was the bright spot for Cleveland tonight. 

Team Effort

Since multiple Bucks had great games, they will all be recognized. Aside from Drew Gooden’s triple double, Ersan Ilyasova was also in double digits (22 points, 8 rebounds), as were Mike Dunleavy (17 points), Brandon Jennings (17 points, 7 assists), Carlos Delfino (17 points, 7 rebounds) and Luc Mbah a Moute (12 points, 13 rebounds). The offense was absolutely clicking on all cylinders today, and it was awesome to see.

The Bucks also had 38 team assists, and NBA season high.

Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh make their Bucks debuts at their former team, the Golden State Warriors, this Friday at 9:30 P.M. 

Fear the Deer!

16-24!

Bucks 119-114 Knicks

Bucks win! A high-scoring thriller sees the Bucks edge out the Linsane Knicks for a big win against one of their main competitors for that playoff spot.

Game

In case you expected anything less, the game got off to a furious start, with the teams combining to score 70 points… in the 1st quarter! The Bucks found themselves up 36-34 after the first period, and put themselves in the driver’s seat in the early going. 

From there, the Knicks rebounded and won the 2nd quarter, 31-25. This gave them a 65-61 lead heading into the break. Perhaps New York having the lead at halftime was a good thing, because instead of resuming the game with a typical 3rd-quarter meltdown, the Bucks absolutely dominated the 3rd quarter and ripped the game back out of New York’s hands by almost doubling their total (32-18) to enter the final quarter with a comfortable, 93-83 lead. Smooth sailing from there?

No, of course not. Why would we ever expect that from the Bucks? Of course they made it exciting! The Knicks were able to cut the lead down and make it a competitive, tight game again before Ersan Ilyasova put a clutch shot back in late in the game to seal the deal for the Bucks, and they pulled away 119-114.

Brandon Jennings

In the highly-anticipated point guard battle, Jennings stepped up to the tune of 25 points on 9-18 shooting (4-7 from beyond the arc). He also got himself a double-double by dishing out 10 assists, a good amount over his average. On top of that, he grabbed 5 rebounds. Accurate shooting, great passing and generally running the offense to its highest ability are all things Jennings possesses, but when he shows them all is when we get excited.

Jeremy Lin

The other half of the point guard duel, Linsanity shot 8-14 and fell short of Jennings with 20 points. Lin did, however, one-up Jennings by throwing 13 dimes to his teammates. He also led the Knicks in efficiency, as they were +13 while he was on the court. 

Amare Stoudemire

Stoudemire was his usual dominating self, putting in 11 of his 15 tries to tally 27 points. He also grabbed 11 rebounds to fulfill that double-double, and made 5-6 of his free throws. 

Ersan Ilyasova/Mike Dunleavy

Two of the most reliable Bucks this season, both turned it up tonight and combined to score 51 points. Dunleavy was efficient, making 10 of his 16 shots for 25 points. Ilyasova (Ersanity) was even more efficient, putting in 9 of his 13 attempts for 26 points. The combination of these two plus Jennings was just too much for New York. 

Is there anyone this Bucks team can’t beat?

They travel to Toronto to see if they can take down the Raptors at 5:00 P.M. on Sunday.

Fear the Deer!

3/7/2012

Milwaukee Bucks (15-23) vs Chicago Bulls (32-8)

7:00 CST, Bradley Center, Milwaukee Wisconsin

Line: Bulls by 7

The Bucks got a few pieces of great news over the past two days.  First, Milwaukee downed Philadelphia in one of their better performances of the last month.  Secondly, Jennings’ high level of play has not diminished over the last few games; if anything, he has been gaining steam lately. And to top it all off, New York lost to Dallas, pulling the Bucks to within 3 games of playoff positioning.  Milwaukee will get its chance to take on the Knicks on Monday, but have much more pressing issues in tonight’s match up against the conference leading Chicago Bulls.

Brandon Jennings

Jennings has been on a roll, as we stated previously.  Against Philadelphia, the top ranked defense in the league, the young point guard put up 33 points and 7 assists in just the latest of a run of fantastic performances.   Tonight, he faces a Chicago team that has given him fits so far this season.  In 3 games against the Bulls this season, all losses, Jennings has averaged only 17 points and 4 assists. If Jennings can continue his run, the Bucks chances of winning increase dramatically.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute

Mbah a Moute is suffering from a sore right knee and is listed as day-to-day for tonight’s game.  If he isn’t able to go, the Bucks will sorely miss his presence off the bench.  Although his offense is close to anemic, he is one of the most underrated defenders in the league, shutting down the best players in the league every time out (Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, etc).  His absence would force players like Jon Leuer and Larry Sanders to work overtime to contain Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, and company.

Stephen Jackson

Jackson hasn’t been ruled out for this game yet, which is encouraging.  He missed the last game with a “sore hamstring”, according to the Bucks injury list.  The strength of Chicago’s defense comes from its tough interior defense, smart play, and exploiting opponent mistakes.  If he can play, Jackson will team up with Dunleavy and Delfino to rove the perimeter and create a threat from long range.



15-23!

3/5/12

Bucks 97-93 76ers

Win! The Bucks rebound from their last few tough losses by edging the 76ers in a streaky game that came down to the end.

Game

Midway through the 1st quarter, the 76ers had scored 10 points. Brandon Jennings had 14. That should give you an idea of how well the Bucks started the game off, running and gunning to a 20-12 lead with about 5 minutes to go in the first. Philadelphia responded, however, by rattling off a 15-2 run and finishing the quarter on a 21-8 run to lead 33-28 going into the 2nd quarter. Brandon Jennings had 19 points on 6-10 shooting after just 1 quarter, a career high in the first quarter for him.

The 2nd quarter was a fairly even affair, with the 76ers holding a few 10-point leads. Milwaukee’s inability to string together more than a few consecutive shots meant Philadelphia’s lead held pretty steady, and the 76ers were up 51-41 in the last few minutes of the half. The Bucks then ended on a 10-4 clip to cut the margin down and enter the break trailing 4, 55-51. Jennings had 19 at the half, while Drew Gooden shot 5-10 for 11 points. Former Buck Jodie Meeks hit a perfect 4-4 from the field and 3-3 from distance to lead the 76ers with 11 points at the half. Louis Williams had 10 for Philadelphia on 3-6 shooting. 

The 3rd quarter was not horrible for the Bucks, but they could not really make any progress on trimming down the lead. That is, until Jennings got hot again and scored 7 quick points to help the Bucks to a 72-71 lead, their first of the 2nd half. The Bucks ended up winning the quarter fairly decisively, 23-16 (in part thanks to a 9-0 run to close the quarter), and took a 74-71 lead into the final quarter, setting up for another tight finish.

Mike Dunleavy hit a 3 to start off the 4th with a good omen for the Bucks. After a Philadelphia miss, Jennings answered with a 3-pointer of his own to cap the 15-0 run for the Bucks. From there, the 4th quarter was pretty much both teams trading baskets, and the Bucks found themselves up 95-93 with about 20 seconds to go. Jennings then played wonderful defense on Louis Williams and forced a miss which Mike Dunleavy rebounded. Ersan Ilyasova then knocked down 2 free throws to ice the game as the Bucks won it, 97-93. 

Brandon Jennings

After being snubbed for an all-star selection, Jennings spent the whole all-star break working out and practicing. It has paid off. His last 2 games before this saw him score 34 and 27, and he continued that streak tonight by shooting 11-23 from the field (4-8 from range) and scoring 33 points. He also dished 7 assists. Jennings’s play has been brilliant lately, and hopefully the Bucks will continue to win with his performances as they did tonight.

Double-Doubles

Drew Gooden has been Mr. Reliable as of late, putting in another double-double with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Ersan Ilyasova also hit doubles, scoring 11 points but grabbing 18 rebounds, a storyline hidden under Jennings’s incredible play. 

Louis Williams

Williams led the charge for the 76ers, putting in 7 of his 17 shots en route to 26 points. He also got to the charity stripe 15 times, converting 11 of his throws. With Philadelphia down 2 and 23 seconds to go, the ball was put into Williams’s hands, but Jennings forced him too far out of the key and he couldn’t complete his drive at the end. 
 

The Bulls come to town Wednesday at 7:00 P.M. as the Bucks try to put together a winning streak.

Fear the Deer!

3/2/2012

Milwaukee Bucks (14-21) vs Atlanta Hawks (20-15)

6:30 CST Phillips Arena, Atlanta Georgia

Line: Hawks by 4

Thankfully, if there’s a team in the league thats going through a rougher stretch right now than the Bucks, a strong argument could be made for Atlanta.  Losing 4 of their last 5, they dropped from 1 game out of 3rd place in mid-February to 6th place coming into tonight’s game, With the Celtics and Knicks in hot pursuit.  Even more troubling, Joe Johnson, the team’s leading scorer with more than 19 points per game, is continuing to battle knee tendinitis and wont be available for tonight’s game. Another Hawks guard, Willie Green, will also miss tonight’s game with lingering back spasms. 

That being said, the Bucks still have quite a steep obstacle ahead of them tonight. Milwaukee’s struggles on the road have been well documented, and the Hawks are still a dangerous, playoff-caliber team that beat the Bucks 92-97 at the Bradley Center in January.  

Baby Steps

While the Bucks offense is slowly beginning to regain the level of fluidity and proficiency it started the season with, they will be without a key participant tonight in Mike Dunleavy, who is missing the game while his wife is expecting a child. Milwaukee could certainly use his shooting tonight as they face off against a tough Atlanta interior defense.  Dunleavy has been playing significantly better of late, scoring a combined 38 points, 5 assists, 8 rebounds, and 4 steals coming off the bench in his last 2 games.  If this performance can continue, and Stephen Jackson can be reactivated, the Bucks could boost their talent level on the court, and keep pace in the conference.

Brandon Jennings

Jennings has regressed slightly since his short revival before the All Star break. Although he has made a concerted effort to facilitate his teammate scoring (as evidenced by his style of play and corresponding assist numbers), he did not command the end of the game against the Celtics and Wizards.  In his last match-up against the Hawks, Jennings completely dominated Jeff Teague to the tune of 19 points, 12 assists, albeit coming in a Bucks loss.  The Bucks would certainly like to see a repeat of this performance, and it could key a Bucks win.

The Phillips Arena

Truly one of the most impressive arenas in the NBA, the Phillips Arena has been anything but welcoming to the Bucks.  In their last 8 games in Phillips Arena, Milwaukee has only managed 1 win coming last season.  The Arena was also the sight of the upset that never was in the 2010 Playoffs. Considering the Bucks shabby road record this season, this building represents even more for this squad. They will have to overcome this mental block in order to focus in and come out with a win tonight.