Milwaukee Bucks analysis: John Salmons strikes back against Carmelo Anthony

John Salmons

AP Photo/Jim Prisching

The All-Star Break couldn’t have come faster for the Milwaukee Bucks. Led by Carmelo Anthony’s 38 points and 12 rebounds, the Denver Nuggets survived various charges by the depleted Bucks to head into the break with a 94-87 road victory.

Read a rundown of the Bucks loss to the Nuggets.

By Jake McCormick
As well as Milwaukee played at points on Wednesday night, the game ended similarly to nearly every close loss the Bucks have had in this frustration season. When a team is hitting a rough patch (Denver had lost four out of their last five games), they can typically count on a win against Milwaukee without having to put up 100+ points.

Crunch time mistakes from role players (Luc Mbah a Moute missing a wide open layup, Earl Boykins’ indecisiveness in transition leaves the Bucks empty) are becoming routine, but there were a few good things to take away from this game.

Optimist: John Salmons Loves The Second Half

Apparently it took the Bucks’ first home game on ESPN for John Salmons to show he can still slip quickly through tiny cracks in a defense and elevate for a jumper or reverse layup. Perhaps it was the smell of NBA Trading Deadline blood in the water; either way, Salmons did his best to steal the show from Carmelo Anthony (despite the refs’ insistence).

The 2009-10 Bucks savior played his most unselfish game Monday (12 assists), and was hot enough Wednesday that every reverse layup or laterally-moving jumper was going to hit nothing but net. When was the last time we ever heard that about a Bucks player?

Pessimist: Shooting…What Else?

As strange as this sounds, the Bucks’ 3-23 shooting beyond the arc against the Nuggets was worse than it looked. The 2010-11 Milwaukee Bucks are a borderline historically terrible shooting team capable of missing any open shot on the floor. But take all 23 three point shots out of the picture, and their 39% overall shooting ramps up to 49%.

Brandon Jennings
and Carlos Delfino bricked all 12 of their combined three point attempts, many of which were within a clear look of the basket. It would be great to say that taking those shots from mid-range would’ve been more beneficial, but with the way Milwaukee has shot the ball this year those would only be guaranteed to hit iron.

Realist: Great Offense, Horrible Defense

The Denver Nuggets entered the game at the top of the NBA in scoring (107.6), second in pace (98.2), and third in three point shooting percentage (39.2%). They also had the NBA’s top February scorer in Carmelo Anthony (30 ppg). But as good as the Nuggets are offensively, they are equally as bad defensively (105.3 ppg), especially on the road.

Before Wednesday night’s win in the Bradley Center, Denver had allowed over 100 points in 10 straight road games. That includes trips to New Jersey, Detroit, Cleveland, Washington, Minnesota, Sacramento, and Charlotte, among others.

There’s no way it was reasonable to expect Milwaukee to continue that streak, but Denver has enough distractions from Carmelo Anthony to make a win for the Bucks a realistic probability. But like most logical assumptions this season, the Milwaukee Bucks managed to play the role of an outlier.

The Bucks locker room after the game was filled with the expected frustration of following up a step forward against the Clippers with a leap backwards against the Nuggets just before the All-Star Break. But it was also evident that everyone was ready to press the reset button for the next week.

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