Milwaukee Bucks maul LA Clippers to close out homestand

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By Jake McCormick

You know you’re a playoff team when…1. The whole arena starts chanting the name of a home team player after he just got T’d up
2. You blow out an inferior team at home, even when the bench is on the floor
3. The 41st win of the season is just that…another win

If you haven’t already guessed, all three applied to last night’s Milwaukee Bucks 107-89 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. The game was so well in hand by the middle of the third quarter that all the starters were given the opportunity to watch Royal Ivey, Primoz Brezec, Charlie Bell, and (for comedic value only) Dan Gadzuric keep the lead close to 20. Even the lesser used players looked good against the Clippers, and that’s a good sign for the well-rested starters heading into tonight’s tilt against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“Other than first six or seven minutes of the game, we settled into nice rhythm,” coach Scott Skiles said. “We did a nice job, and also got into a nice rhythm offensively.”

This game, quite simply, was a blowout of expected proportions. Milwaukee contested everything, took advantage of multiple wide open outside looks, and kept kicking when Los Angeles was writhing on the floor. The bench once again played a vital role on both ends in maintaining a double-digit lead.

Jerry Stackhouse dunks against the Los Angeles ClippersJohn Salmons exited early with foul trouble and Carlos Delfino was held out for the second consecutive game with a neck/jaw injury. Naturally, a Scott Skiles coached team will find some way to make up for their loss. Enter Jerry Stackhouse and Charlie Bell, who were hitting shots all over the floor and covered their men like duct tape on dog hair. Just ask Eric Gordon what a 2-13 night against Bell feels like.

Bell was hot early, and sparked a 10-0 first quarter run that allowed the Bucks to control the rest of the game on both ends. Stackhouse has been more of a brick house than anything lately, but only missed three shots all night, two of which were three pointers from his favorite corner spot on the floor.

“Early on made a point to drive the ball and get to the basket, and we did a good job of that,” Skiles said. “It’s always nice to be able to play the bench in a back-to-back.”

MVP: Brandon Jennings
Between his fake behind the back pass layup and jawing match with Steve Blake, Jennings showcased everything he could bring to the table for the second consecutive game. He hit open shots, got into the lane to grab a few rebounds, ran the transition game exceptionally well (and fast), and played lockdown defense around the perimeter. Jennings once again played like he knew he was the fastest player on the court, and that will make the Bucks even more dangerous as the postseason draws closer.

LVP: John Salmons
Salmons got into foul trouble in the second quarter, but even before that he was shooting below 35%. He did do a great job of getting into the lane early to open up the outside shots, but otherwise was rarely a factor on offense. I can’t fault Salmons for having an off night just because he plays the role of the silent assassin on a regular basis, but for all intents and purposes, he contributed the least out of all the starters.

Best supporting role: Ersan Ilyasova
Skiles said it best when summing up Ersan’s versatility:

“Ersan provides spacing,” Skiles said. “A lot of big players hang around the three point line and don’t go into paint, but he sizes it up. He gets a defensive rebound every five minutes or so, and that’s good considering he’s out on perimeter at times guarding somebody.”

Ilyasova showed no lingering effects from the flu that kept him out of Friday’s game, and could be seen on the perimeter one second for an open three only to post up and grab a rebound or two on the next possession. For now, it looks like the worst of his soft confidence issues are behind him.

Key stat: 27 assists, 7 turnovers
A near 4-1 assist to turnover ratio should give you a decent idea of how fluid Milwaukee was in the passing game. They normally finish a win with five players in double figures, and a lot of that has to do with the team’s overall awareness of each other.

“We moved the ball pretty well and made some shots,” Skiles said. “We were hitting seams, got to painted area, and opened them up a little bit and opened us up as well.”

The Bucks were moving the ball around the perimeter and from the inside out all game, and they also capitalized off of many transitional opportunities that ran at the speed of the Phoenix Suns. When this team shares the rock, they find and hit open shots. I couldn’t explain what happened last night much better than that.

It was over when…
Steve Blake, Bogut, and Jennings were given technical fouls at the 2 minute mark in the third quarter. On the previous play, Blake had wrestled a rebound away from Ersan and gave him a pretty obvious shove before connecting on an easy lay up.

When Bogut put a screen on him, Blake got visibly agitated and decided to go at it with the seven foot Aussie. The play just resulted in more frustration for the Clips, as a unified Bradley Center chorus of “Andrew Bogut” rained down as the referees were reviewing the call.

“I just asked (Blake) how his family was and what he was doing for the summer,” Bogut said with a grin. “I just set a ball screen, he took exception, and that happens in heat of the moment. It’s nothing personal, but a playoff series is going to be 10 times more intense.”

What’s next?
Milwaukee faces three tough tests the rest of this week, with a game in Cleveland tonight and the second of four straight back-to-backs this weekend in Charlotte and at home against Phoenix.

“It’s going to be a tough game (against the Cavs),” Bogut said. “It’s going to be a measuring stick for how much better we’ve gotten since the last time we played in Cleveland. It’s going to be a close game.”

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  1. paulmbanks says

    Brew Hoop is linking to us now…good job!! I added them to the blogroll too

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