Bucks-Timberwolves quickly becomes a battle for the basement

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Corey Maggette

AP Photo/Jim Prisching

The Milwaukee Bucks‘ 94-88 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves Tuesday night played out like a bizarro version of the Mia Hamm/Michael Jordan Gatorade commercials. Anything Milwaukee did, Minnesota did worse, and neither team could do anything consistently better than the other. Case and point: The game’s final two minutes.

By Jake McCormick

More Milwaukee Bucks/Minnesota Timberwolves analysis.
Down 91-88 with a little over a minute remaining in the game, Timberwolves center Darko Milicic (5 pts, 2-6 fg, 5 rbs, 3 TOs) missed an open hook shot that gave the Bucks a chance to ice the game for good. Not to be out-mistaked, Milwaukee proceeded to play hot potato for the next 24 seconds, culminating in an long two airballed from Keyon Dooling (5 pts, 2-4 fg, 3 rbs).

Eager to reclaim the throne of bad, Minnesota came away completely empty on the next possession with three straight missed shots, despite two offensive rebounds that kept the team breathing long after they should have flat-lined.

Carlos Delfino (13 pts, 4-10 fg, 3-9 3fg, 9 rbs) ripped down the last Timberwolves miss, an open Kevin Love (20 pts, 6-10 fg, 17 rbs, 6 asts) three pointer, and outlet passed it to a soon-after fouled Brandon Jennings (27 pts, 7-17 fg, 11-12 ft, 7 asts, 3 stls, 2 blks). Like Jennings had done all game, he hit both free throws to secure the Bucks victory.

After the game, Andrew Bogut (7 pts, 3-5 fg, 6 rbs, 4 blks) said it was nice to win the first post-All-Star Break game on their schedule. But beating a team like the Timberwolves in a down-to-the-wire, sloppy contest is worthy of nothing more than an “I’m just glad we got the win” mentality.

Notable Milwaukee Bucks contributors:

Brandon Jennings (27 pts) played a season high 45 minutes and came through in crunch time to ice the game for the Bucks. Jennings was especially aggressive in transition and at the rim (11-12 ft), which also helped open up the floor for more distribution opportunities (7 asts), especially in the fourth quarter.

Jon Brockman
(4 pts, 1-3 fg, 14 rbs) was forced to play a season high 24 minutes because of Andrew Bogut/Ersan Ilyasova/Luc Mbah a Moute foul trouble (all had four fouls). Brockman played about as well as you would expect from a 6’7” center going against 6’10” and up players like Kevin Love and Darko Milicic, and outmuscling them for 14 rebounds (4 offensive).

Corey Maggette (20 pts, 7-17 fg, 6-7 ft, 6 rbs) started slow (2-7 in the first half), but finished 5-10 in the last two quarters from a combination of long jumpers and fast break opportunities that allow him to be himself. Maggette had just two assists, but both were pretty passes to John Salmons on a basket cut and a three point attempt, and was instrumental in keeping the Bucks chances alive late in the game.

Bucks/Wolves in-game observations:

  • Within the game’s opening six minutes, there was no mistaking the Minnesota Timberwolves for their 13-43 record. The Bucks applied heavy defensive pressure throughout that span, and the end result was five easy steals converted into eight points and six total Timberwolves turnovers by the end of the quarter.
  • Thanks to foul trouble that forced all of Milwaukee’s regular bigs to sit most of the game, Bucks center Jon Brockman was tasked with containing the much larger trio of Nikola Pekovic, Darko Milicic and Kevin Love. Brockman often worked his way into an advantageous rebounding position under the basket in sneaky ways that should’ve made Kevin Love proud.
  • The Timberwolves came out of halftime with a quick 9-2 run, highlighted by a Wesley Johnson (14 pts, 5-14 fg, 8 rbs) dunk on a fast break and Michael Beasley’s (21 pts, 10-17 fg, 5 TOs) continued success with spot up jumpers. After falling behind 53-46, the Bucks rattled off an 11-4 run that included five successful free throw attempts and a couple Brandon Jennings fast break opportunities.
  • Missing shots has been the most consistent theme throughout the Bucks 2010-11 schedule, and clutch free throws have certainly not been safe. Milwaukee and Minnesota both shot 31 freebies, but the Bucks converted 27 while the Wolves only hit 20. Five of those Milwaukee charity stripe conversions came off Brandon Jennings’ fingers in the final 1:17.

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