Archive for the ‘Milwaukee Bucks’ Category

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One of these men is an NBA centre; the other is not

If you’re not a hardcore Raptors fan or Bucks fan, then I hope to God you didn’t tune in to this ball game between a 14-27 team and a 19-30 team. Because believe me, the two teams played to their…um…potential.

First of all, the game was played in front of a dead-silent building, “filled” with 11 975 fans and the players on the floor did nothing to excite them. From a Raptors perspective, this game was downright ugly.

Sure, DeMar DeRozan got off to another hot start, Amir Johnson crashed the glass and Leandro Barbosa made his return. But as a team, the Raptors shot 16-of-45 from the field in the first half, and struggled to score 38 points in the half. Luckily for them, the Bucks were almost just as awful, and so the Raps trailed by just two at the break.

If there was a play to sum up the first half, it came in the first quarter. Amir Johnson grabbed an offensive rebound, three times in a row on one possession, and all of them came off of a Jose Calderon miss. And that brings us to Calderon, who may have had the worst quarter of his career in the first 12 minutes. Jose went 0-for-6, with zero points, one assist and three turnovers, and it was only a sign of things to come.

Again though, the Raptors were lucky, as they came out of the half down 40-38 in a game that they should have been out of already.

The third quarter was incredibly frustrating to watch as a basketball fan, let alone a Raptors fan. Forget that the Raps only scored 20 in the quarter or that both teams were sloppy. What was frustrating was that it took 11-and-a-half minutes to get the only Raptor that was shooting well, DeRozan, a shot in the third quarter. And it took a three-on-one fast break to get him that shot attempt.

Instead, Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon clanked jumper after jumper while DeRozan wasted away in the corner. Now I know that part of the problem is that DeMar needs to be more assertive and demanding on offence, but as a teammate, when you know only one guy on your team is feeling it on a particular night, how do Andrea Bargnani, Jose Calderon and Sonny Weems combine for 46 shot attempts (of which they combined for just 13 makes), while DeRozan gets just 13? It doesn’t add up, and I don’t know whether to attribute it to poor coaching, ignorant/negligent players, or just overall stupidity from all involved.

Back to the game itself. I could mislead you by telling you that the Raptors were in a close, eight point game heading into the fourth quarter, or I could tell you the truth. Everyone who has watched this team this season could tell that towards the end of the third quarter, the wheels began to fall off, and the Bucks were about to take total control in the fourth.

Lo and behold, just three minutes into the fourth, we had a 13-point game, and mere minutes later, the Bucks were holding a very comfortable 18-point lead. In the end, the Raptors managed just 16 points in that final quarter, and actually outdid themselves (in a craptacular way) by scoring less in the second half than they did in that lousy first half. This all led to the final 18-point margin of defeat.

No matter how you slice it, the Raptors never had their heads in this game.

Aside from DeRozan, who finished with 18 points, I thought Amir Johnson brought his usual hustle to the table and Leandro Barbosa had a decent return from injury.

Amir was hampered by some familiar foul trouble and had an uncharacteristically inefficient night on the offensive end, but he, at least, looked alive on the floor and did grab 11 rebounds in just 24 minutes. Barbosa finished just 4-of-11 from the field, but he made a few nice plays and showed a willingness to attack the paint that hasn’t been seen around these parts since Barbosa went down a few weeks ago.

And if you’re thinking, “what about DeRozan attacking the paint?” Then I must remind you that DeMar has now gone three straight games without a single free throw attempt.

Oh, and before I leave you, how about this? After setting an NBA record with at least one three-pointer made in 986 consecutive games, the Raptors fell a little bit short of that record in their latest streak. On Tuesday night in Milwaukee, Toronto’s new three-point streak ended…at six games. There’s a reason this team is dead last in three-point shooting.

Raptors Player of the Game: DeMar DeRozan -39 Min, 18 Pts, 9-13 FG, 7 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl

Bucks Player of the Game: Andrew Bogut – 30 Min, 14 Pts, 6-8 FG, 2-3 FT, 5 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl, 5 Blk

Goat of the Game: Jose Calderon – 32 Min, 6 Pts, 2-15 FG, 0-3 3Pt, 2-2 FT, 4 Reb, 7 Ast, 2 Stl, 6 TO

Brandon Jennings

Now that the Raptors ended their losing streak, the Bucks have to be scared about this momentous momentum shift. I’m kidding, of course. In reality, the Bucks are on a four-game losing streak of their own and they’re trying to salvage their season, so they probably see this game as a golden opportunity to snap out of their slump.

Leandro Barbosa is listed as “questionable” for this game which means we might see him tonight. Whether or not you actually want to win this game will affect your opinion about whether you’d like to see him in uniform.

Injury report

Toronto: Jerryd Bayless will miss tonight’s game with a sprained knee, while Leandro Barbosa is reportedly a gametime decision.

Milwaukee: Drew Gooden is out indefinitely with plantar fasciitis. Michael Redd is Michael Redd, so he’s still out.

Five questions

1. How many cheeseheads will be in tonight’s crowd at the Bradley Center?

2. Did Andrew Bogut ruin his free throw shooting when he destroyed his arm last season? He’s shooting 42 percent from the line this season.

3. Do you think the Bucks regret trading Amir Johnson and Sonny Weems for Carlos Delfino and Roko-Leni Ukic in August ’09?

4. What are your thoughts about Trey Johnson so far? Now that he’s on his second 10-day contract for the Raptors, they have to decide by next Wednesday if they’re going to let him go or sign him for the rest of the season.

5. The Raptors and Bucks have the two best mascots in the NBA, but which one is better? I’m going to assume you’re familiar with The Raptor’s work. But are you aware of how awesome Bango the Buck is.

Start time: 8:00 PM ET
Channel: TSN
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems, Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani
Milwaukee: Brandon Jennings, Carlos Delfino, Corey Maggette, Ersan Ilyasova, Andrew Bogut

Since the Packers won on Sunday and since the Raptors are playing in Milwaukee tonight, I might as well feature “Green and Yellow” by Lil Wayne as tonight’s pregame song. In my humble opinion, it’s the best team fight song of the year. (Note: I’m aware the year is just over a month old.)

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Yup, that's Sonny taking another jump-shot

Friday night, lively crowd, great ball game, overtime, ten losses in a row. Hey, at least you got your money’s worth.

The Raptors faced another winnable game at home (if you can call any game on the schedule ‘winnable’ anymore) on Friday night, and though their performance was somewhat acceptable, the end result was loss no. 34 on the season.

The Raps came out with good energy in the first quarter, but were undone by absolutely brutal interior defence, particularly from Andrea Bargnani, leading to a 10-point deficit after one.

The second quarter was by far the Raptors’ best of the night, as they jumped out to a 10-0 run to start the quarter, and even started to stretch out a lead of their own as the quarter wore on. Alexis Ajinca was surprisingly good in that second frame. He made jump-shot after jump-shot from the top of the key, was solid defensively and even had a big block on little Earl Boykins. Leading the way though, for the Raps, was Jerryd Bayless, whose aggression and pesky play sparked Toronto to a 57-55 lead at halftime.

The third quarter was the Ersan Ilyasova and Corey Maggette show, as the Bucks began to assert their will on the court. The only thing keeping Toronto in it was the stellar effort being turned in by Amir Johnson.

The Bucks led by as many as 10 in the final quarter, and looked like they could run away with it, when Andrea Bargnani finally came alive. Bargs got hot at the right time for the Raps, and hit a jumper to tie the game with under a minute to play. Amir Johnson stepped to the free throw line with 18 seconds left to tie the game again, and the Bucks, like the Grizzlies on Monday, had 18 seconds to break the Raptors’ hearts.

Unfortunately for Milwaukee, Carlos Delfino could not channel his inner Rudy Gay, and he stumbled out of bounds, leaving Toronto with the ball and 2.8 seconds to do something with it. After calling back-to-back timeouts, the play the Raptors settled for was Andrea Bargnani shooting a turnaround jumper from the right corner. It never came close, and overtime was on the horizon.

Despite Bargnani’s obvious inability to guard Andrew Bogut throughout the ball game, it was Andrea trying to handle Bogut in the first minute of OT, and I think you can guess what happened. Bogut scored the first six points of the extra frame before the Raptors realized something wasn’t working. Amir switched over to guarding Bogut, and though the Raptors came back to tie it again, they ultimately came up six points short.

Onto some notes from the game now. I mentioned above that Ajinca was hot in the second quarter. The truth is his jumper was falling, but over the course of just 13 minutes, it became pretty clear that he has no offensive game; just a nice stroke. If defenders close in on him, don’t expect much.

Sonny Weems had a decent game on Friday night, finishing with 10 points and showing some nice passing ability with six assists. However, Sonny continued to settle for jump shots and finished 4-of-13 from the field, which included missing a wide open put-back. He certainly was not good enough to blow anybody away or steal minutes from a guy who’s been busting his butt for the last month.

Oh, I guess he was. Weems replaced Julian Wright as a starter to begin the second half, as Wright was having a bit of a rough game. Sonny finished with 43 minutes, Wright had 12. We appreciate all your hard work Julian, but you were always just one bad quarter away from losing your spot to an undeserving player. Wait until Kleiza comes back and chucks his way past you in the rotation.

The highlight of the night was definitely Matt Devlin and Jack Armstrong grabbing the mic and leading the crowd in a sing-along to “Living On A Prayer.” No joke, the crowd was ten times louder for that than they were for Rob Base’s halftime performance.

As I wrote up top, fans certainly got their money’s worth on this night, but that shouldn’t fool people into thinking the effort was acceptable. Yes, the Raptors fought back from another late deficit, had their chance to win it and forced overtime. Their effort on offence was commendable.

But there is another side to the story. The Raptors let the worst offensive team in the league (Milwaukee averages 91.2 points per game on 42.3 per cent shooting) score 104 points in regulation and shoot 55 per cent from the field. If someone thinks that a great effort went into that just because the game was exciting, they’re dreaming.

Raptors Player of the Game: Amir Johnson -34 Min, 24 Pts, 8-11 FG, 8-9 FT, 12 Reb, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

Bucks Player of the Game: Ersan Ilyasova – 34 Min, 25 Pts, 9-10 FG, 2-2 3Pt, 5-5 FT, 7 Reb, 1 Ast, 3 Stl, 2 Blk (Bogut and Maggette could take this place too)

Andrew Bogut

What do you say, gang? Can the Raptors make it 10 in a row? Well, the Bucks beat the Hawks on Wednesday so one would think they can probably handle the tail-spinning Raptors tonight.

The most interesting aspect of tonight’s matchup is the fact that, according to Basketball-Reference.com, the Bucks’ have the second-worst offence in the league (100.8 points scored per 100 possessions) while the Raptors have the second-worst defence (112.0 points allowed per 100 possessions). In 43 games this season, the Bucks have scored at least 100 points just nine times. Meanwhile, the Raptors have held their opponents to under 100 points in just 15 of their 46 games. The Bucks have the worst team field goal percentage (.423) while the Raptors have the highest opponent field goal percentage (.483).

You get the idea — it’s like an easily stoppable force meeting an effortlessly movable object. Despite their anemic offence, I actually find the Bucks quite enjoyable to watch when they’re healthy. As you’ll see in the injury report, the Bucks are not particularly healthy at the moment.

Injury report

Toronto: Leandro Barbosa and Linas Kleiza are out, Jose Calderon and Joey Dorsey are questionable.

Milwaukee: Brandon Jennings is in recovery from foot surgery and is doubtful for tonight, while Drew Gooden and John Salmons are listed as questionable.

1. Does it reflect badly on the Raptors’ training staff that Sonny Weems never bothered to stretch before he hurt his back?

2. Do you think DeMar DeRozan will ever achieve his goal of averaging at least six rebounds per game?

3. Remember Michael Redd? He hasn’t played since Jan. 10, 2010 but he’s aiming to return to the Bucks’ lineup in March.

4. Would you believe it’s possible for an NBA player to rack up 20 free throw attempts in just 14 minutes of playing time? That’s what Corey Maggette did in a preseason game on Oct. 22, 2010. Since the 1986-87 season, the fewest amount of minutes in which a player accumulated 20 FTAs was Frank Brickowski’s 24-minute, 20-FTA performance on Feb. 18, 1989.

5. Did you know that the Bucks briefly had a guy named Darington Hobson on their roster? If he was still in the league, he’d have to at least be a “third-teamer” on the All NBA Name Teams, right?

Start time: 7:00 PM ET
Channel: TSN2
Liveblog: theScore.com and ScoreMobile with Gino Bottero
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jerryd Bayless, DeMar DeRozan, Julian Wright, Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani
Milwaukee: Keyon Dooling, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Corey Maggette, Ersan Ilyasova, Andrew Bogut

With my pregame songs, I usually pick an artist from the home town of the team the Raptors are playing on a given day. Today, I’m going to show some T-dot pride with the quite excellent “The Anthem” by Kardinall Offishall.