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The Hornets beat the Bucks

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Published: March 14, 2009

Rough start for both teams tonight in Milwaukee. Effort and hustle was there but nobody could buy a bucket. 14-14 after Q1. Our bench woes then put us in yet another hole and the starters had to work hard to get the lead back before halftime. Great interior D and excellent rebounding got it done. Pretty even in the third, much of our scoring coming at the free throw line after getting in the penalty. Always good. In the fourth, Milwaukee tried the same trick they pulled off a few weeks back, launching a bunch of triples to try steal it. No luck for them this time, and the Hornets went with more reliable shots to pull away and seal the deal. 95-86 the final.

Bullets:

  • Rasual Butler did it again, starting off ice cold then warming up nicely and coming through with three long bombs in the fourth quarter. 17 points, 6-of-12 shooting, 4-of-8 from deep, and he added five boards just for the hell of it. I’m not sure he had such a positive performance defensively: he had a tough job chasing Charlie Bell around picks when he wasn’t trying to keep Richard Jefferson out of the lane.
  • I have no idea what Byron was thinking when he threw five reserves out there to start the second quarter. Did he not remember what happened when he tried the same thing in the fourth on Wednesday? Worse still, after the Bucks snapped off a quick 8-0 run, Byron called timeout only to resume play with the same five guys! Thankfully it was only another 90 seconds or so before Butler and West reentered the game, but that hole we dug ourselves resulted in Chris Paul having to play the entire second half, 41 minutes overall. Not good on the first night of a back-to-back.
  • Another great performance from Tyson Chandler. Defensively, he was outstanding, especially in the first half. With him holding down the middle, the Bucks were hesitant to venture in the paint — note their seven free-throw attempts in the game; they average 16.5 per — preferring to settle for jumpers. (Of course, Milwaukee sorely lack an inside scoring threat, particularly when Charlie Villanueva is busy sucking like he was in this one.) Tyson also did a great job on the boards, grabbing 17 total, 7 offensive. He wasn’t all that effective after he tweaked his ankle midway through the fourth. Hopefully that doesn’t linger.

  • Chris Paul did his thing to the tune of 30 points, 9 assists, 6 boards, 4 steals and 3 turnovers. Like everyone else, he got off to a pretty rough start, but he had that refuse-to-lose thing going on down the stretch. That was him scoring or assisting on our last six field goals of the ball game.
  • Jefferson and Bell were the only real threats for Milwaukee, and Bell had a poor second half. Jefferson finished with 27 points on 11-of-20 shooting. He knocked down 5-of-6 from the free throw line, which of course means that the rest of his teammates managed just one free throw attempt all game. And that one was a brick from Charlie V after Tyson got caught for illegal D. By contrast, the Hornets shot 22-of-25 from the free throw line tonight, though it must be noted that we seemed to get several favorable whistles.
  • One thing I really admire about the Bucks: they don’t bark much at the officials, even after bad calls.
  • 21 points (8-of-15 FGs) and 10 boards for David West. I thought the Bucks did a pretty good job defending him, making his catches tough and forcing him to go get it a good distance from the goal. Often they doubled him when he made his move to the basket, either forcing a tough shot or getting the ball out of his hands. A lot of the credit for that tough defense goes to Keith Bogans, who also made West pay a few times at the other end by hanging outside the arc and banging down 4-of-8 triples.
  • Before I forget, West was called for illegal defense again tonight, though I’m not so sure it was the right call by the officials. Regardless, the count is now eight of those for D-West in the last eleven games.
  • Lots not to like from Posey. He had several ill-advised shot attempts, a few fumbles and errant passes. I’ve noticed lately that he’s very prone to bite on a shot fake when closing on the perimeter. Of course he did have some nice plays, too, but it’s starting to irk me a little that he gets such a long leash when Julian Wright isn’t allowed make more than one mistake out there. From what I’m seeing, JuJu is giving us better minutes than Posey lately, and he could benefit from that PT a lot more.
  • The Bucks went to a 1-2-2 zone down the stretch, something we haven’t seen much of. We handled it pretty well though. Nice to see our guys cutting through the lane and flashing to the free throw line, rather than finding a spot on the perimeter and planting roots.
  • Numbers: We had a 40-28 edge in points in the paint, out-rebounded the Bucks 46-30 and finished with a FG% of 46.6, which is amazing considering we shot just 5-of-21 in the first quarter. Still a problem with turnovers (16 tonight), 14 assists on 34 field goals is pretty low, and our reserve bigs (Bowen and Armstrong) combined for just one rebound in 15 minutes. That said, I thought Bowen played great out there.

Certainly not the head-stomping wins we were looking for in these last two games against inferior opponents, but wins nonetheless. I’m pretty happy with this road trip so far, but a loss tomorrow in Chicago could ruin it all.

Looking at other games tonight, thems Bulls lost in Philly, and the Rockets won in Charlotte. Portland and Dallas are trailing their respective games as I write this. Time to get my League Pass on.

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