After last night’s loss to the reigning Champion Lakers, the Buck’s record fell to 5-6. Despite losing to the Lakers, the Bucks showed improvement in some key areas and are in position to make an early push. The Bucks kept pace with the Laker’s free throw attempts. They out-rebounded the Lakers, especially on the offensive glass. Also, they got significant and efficient scoring from the bench. Ultimately, it was a lack of execution that cost the Bucks, rather than lack of effort, talent, or ability.
The Bucks were among the worst teams in free throws attempted last year. But last night they attempted 27. The Lakers attempted just two more, 29. Bogut did the bulk of the shooting, with a total 10 attempts. Unfortunately, he hit only 2. That’s a lot of points left on the floor. John Salmons was also only 2 of 6. Those 12 points would have won them the game. So while the Bucks are attacking the rim more frequently, they still need to execute and complete free throws, especially on three-point play opportunities.
The Bucks were also aggressive rebounders last night. This is a key for the Bucks. Because they shoot so many mid range jump shots, they must have players crashing the boards. Their shot selection means they need more opportunities to negate their lower shooting percentages. The Bucks had 19 offensive rebounds last night, leading to 11 more shots than the Lakers. It was almost enough to make up for their lower shooting percentage last night.
The Bucks bench provided 33 points, on a night when Jennings went for 31 and Gooden for 22. More importantly, the bench was 12-22 on shot attempts. Corey Maggette was also 5-8 from the free throw line, providing 15 points in 15 minutes. It’s probably time to get him more minutes per game off the bench. Earl Boykins maintained pace and pressure when Jennings went out. And Ersan Ilyasova filled out the stat sheet nicely. It seems like the Bucks can start buttoning down their rotation and hopefully that will provide more stability.
Ultimately, it was poor free throw shooting, especially when compared to the Lakers that cost the Bucks last night. They hung with the Lakers pace. They crashed the boards to make up for their lesser shooting. They got significant contributions from the bench. It seems the Bucks have all their pieces set. If they can buckle down and execute consistently, then they will be ready to begin chasing Chicago for the division title.