The First Half
The Bucks stormed out to a big first half lead that ballooned to 14 points by halftime. Contributions came from the entire lineup, with some fast starts from Monta Ellis (10 points and 6 assists) and “Steady-Eddie” Ersan Ilyasvoa reaching double digits with 10 points. In a pleasantly suprising offensive outburst, Ekpe Udoh posted a respectable 9 points, 5 rebounds to round out the top performers of the half. That the team has 54 points with a subdued first half offensive performance from Brandon Jennings (3 points) bodes well for both tonights game and the rest of this season.
The second half went the way that many of the Bucks games have gone this season: A big lead going in to the half slips away, then Milwaukee either folds, or turns it on and runs away with the game. Tonight, thankfully, the Bucks opted for the latter, responding with great second half showings from Jennings and Ellis. The win is the Bucks 4th out of 4 games against Cleveland this season, each time with the offense blowing past the 100 point mark. The win also brought Milwaukee to within 1 game of the dormant Knicks for the final playoff spot.
Any discussion of this game must begin by talking about the late game performance of the Bucks new weapon. His overall stat line (30 points, 8 assists) looks like just another scorer in a Bucks lineup that scores just under 100 points per game. But the most important aspect of his game was the final 16 Bucks points were all scored by Ellis. This is something that the Bucks have been missing all season; a player that when the end of the game comes up, he can kick it up a notch and put the game beyond doubt. Game after game the Bucks struggled with giving up big leads or coming up short on a rally. With the addition of Monta, he could be the key piece that the Bucks so desperately need come playoff time.
After a slow start, Jennings woke up in the second half offensively. His 18 points, combined with the great performance by Ellis, led the team through a rough period at times in the 3rd quarter. Another promising sign; Brandon Jennings proved his shot selection has improved dramatically recently. Earlier in the season, Jennings felt that he had to carry the team through thick and thin. This lead to plenty of long three point shots, off balanced layups and reckless passes. Now with the team playing the way they have been and the additions of Monta Ellis, Jennings play has been much more relaxed and the wins have followed.
Next up, the Bobcats come to Milwaukee for the 3rd game this season and a chance to seize a playoff spot for the first time this season.
Fear the Deer!