The Border Battle (BUCKS 98, Wolves 95)

The worst thing about a moral victory is when it’s followed by a disappointing loss.  The Wolves were outplayed tonight in Milwaukee.  Mike Beasley didn’t have his head in it until midway through the 4th, when he ran out of time before a comeback could be completed.  Kevin Love worked all night on the glass, posting, of course, a ho-hum 31 & 20.  He broke the franchise record for free throws made with 19.

I suppose some of the keys to this loss were turnovers (bad ones throughout by Ridnour, Beasley, and Darko) stupid fouls, missed open threes, passed up open threes (looking at you, Derrick Williams) and 12 missed free throws.

Derrick Williams was outplayed by Jon Leuer.  There’s a sentence I never thought I’d read or write.  Williams finds himself open for three (you know, where he set just about every record known to man with his 56 percent clip, last year) and he passes those up so he can drive in the paint and charge a defender.  He is not comfortable playing 24 feet from the basket, right now.

Ricky Rubio needs to play the full game.  Splitting time isn’t going to work for this type of player.  He needs a rhythm to always know who is on the floor for each team and what he needs to do.  He sat the entire 3rd Quarter tonight.  While Luke hit some shots that kept the Wolves in it, he isn’t the point guard for this team.  Without a shooting guard of any notoriety, the Wolves need a playmaking point.

Rather than ramble on, I’ll post the notes I made throughout this one.  Overriding themes were too many careless turnovers, Kevin Love drew a shit-ton of fouls while rebounding everything, and Beasley woke up almost in time to steal this one at Milwaukee.

With the Heat coming to town on Friday, this was a needed win.  0-3 is almost inevitable, but we’ll see what happens in front of the Target Center crowd.

Season Record: 0-2

GAME JOTTINGS

1st Quarter (BUCKS 32 Wolves 30)

* Kevin Love is a foul-drawing machine.  13-15 from the line in first.  17 points 5 rebounds for the quarter.

* Wolves offense is incoherent and ugly.  Luke Ridnour cannot get the team into a functioning offense against good defense.

* Michael Beasley made one nice shot, and the foul, but quickly picked up two fouls and headed to the bench.  This was a recurring theme for him last year, and was a big reason why his minutes were less than they could have been.

* Wes Johnson ran out in transition for a dunk, and made a nice drive-and-dish to Love, who was fouled on the shot.  Solid start for Wes.

* Should be repeated how many different ways Love can get fouled.  Rebounding, posting up, head-faking on jumpers, everything.

* Darko doing an adequate job on Bogut.  This is the play the Wolves need from him–the kind where he’s not talked about, good or bad.

* JJ Barea came in and gave a spark of offense, drawing fouls around the basket.  Drew a quick charge on Livingston, continuing a trend he set yesterday doing that on Westbrook.

* Jon Leuer of Orono High School and University of Wisconsin fame came in the game and really helped the Bucks.  He outplayed Derrick Williams in this quarter, scoring, blocking a shot, and drawing fouls.

* Bucks complaining at fouls called on Love.  Scott Skiles T’d up from the bench.

* Rubio with some defensive struggles early.  Beno Udrih scored on him with a short jumper, and then he committed a stupid bonus foul on Brandon Jennings, 30 feet from the basket.

2nd Quarter (BUCKS 28 Wolves 18) (Score: BUCKS 60 Wolves 48)

* Rubio makes a few nice passes, none of which lead to assists in stat column.  One one pass, AT is fouled on the shot.  On another, Love misses a wide-open trey from corner.  Rubio makes a nice steal and quickly turns it over.  He’s a bit more out-of-control than last night, but still seeing the floor and making passes that require defensive shifts–the sort of thing this team badly needs.

* Shaun Livingston posts up Rubio, and Tolliver commits a full double team.  When shots are eventually missed, nobody is in position for rebounds.  Bucks collecting baskets this way, controlling the boards with Love on bench.

* Beasley comes back in, commits two more fouls.  His head is not in the game tonight.  Very, very disappointing.  I thought he’d come out with a strong performance and precisely the opposite has happened.  He may sit the entire 3rd after showing Coach Porter (Adelman is out of town at Mother-in-Law’s funeral) that he can’t help but commit stupid fouls.  3rd foul was also a turnover, as he charged Stephen Jackson.

* Speaking of S-Jack, he’s having his way with Wolves defenders.  He bullied Ridnour and then Beasley in the paint to baskets.  O.J. Mayo once announced that he wanted to be a point guard.  His reason?  “I can’t play the two if Stephen Jackson is going to post me up.”  S-Jack is a physical beast for that position.  He appears focused, tonight, after a shaky start and some questionable foul calls early on Love.

* Wolves begin a turnover spree that affects their defense.  Very-bad quarter.

3rd Quarter (Wolves 20 BUCKS 19) (Score: BUCKS 79 Wolves 68)

* Beasley starts the half, apparently with only 3 fouls.  Quickly commits a stupid 4th, and stays in the game.  Hits a jumper after that, but still struggling.

* S-Jack starts torching Beasley, knowing he can’t foul.  Pours in a couple of easy jumpers from distance.

* Love continues to draw fouls, keep team (sort of) in the game.

* Darko commits two quick turnovers of his old variety (holding ball, doesn’t see defender coming from behind to poke the ball away).  After another couple minutes, he throws it away for TO number 3.  Wolves losing big.

* Jennings getting out in transition and also hitting jumpers.  Nice quarter for him.

* Ridnour banks in a couple of jumpers to keep this game a little bit interesting.

* Beasley travels, but gets away with it.  Turns in that get-out-of-jail free card by tossing it to the home team.  He’s really off, tonight.

* Wes playing a terrible quarter with missed (open) shots and turnovers.  Worse than a non-factor.

* After I write that, he hits a 3.  Finally.

* Rubio rotting on the pine, late in 3rd.  He’s needed.

* Williams (AGAIN!) pumpfakes a 3 and drives, when the 3 was open.  This time he avoids charge and dumps it to Love for an AND-1.  Nice play.  Still, I’d rather see him shoot that 3.

* Love and Ridnour make 3-pointers (Love’s the old-fashioned way) to cut 3rd Quarter deficit to 11.  Amazing that it’s this close.  Wolves playing terrible basketball.

4th Quarter (Wolves 27 BUCKS 19) (Final Score: BUCKS 98 Wolves 95)

* Leuer quickly scores on D-Williams.  Not easy to tell which was the high-draft choice, tonight.

* Rubio back in the game, gets fouled on a jumper attempt.  Makes both free throws.  Good start to this stint.  Follows that up by pushing the ball, hitting his co-rookie Williams, who then makes a smart side-step move to draw blocking foul.  Later in quarter, Rubio turns it over on drive where he should have gone up for a layup.  Jim Peterson points out there wasn’t much defense there.  Ricky needs to watch his Rondo tapes for how that’s done.

* Barea makes a beautiful setup pass to Darko for an easy layup.  Next possession, Darko gets lost on defense and has to commit 6th and final foul on Bogut’s shot attempt.  We’ll see Love on Bogut for the homestretch, I imagine.  Love defends large centers like Bogut well, and this may not be a bad thing.  Too many turnovers tonight for Darko.  A letdown after a solid first game, and first quarter of this game.

* Jackson missing shots that he made in 1st Half and 3rd Quarter.

* Love passes up wide open three for head fake and missed layup.  A recurring theme tonight is Wolves passing up threes to take worse attempts.

* Beasley converts layup and foul, but misses FT.  He’s 1 for 4 from the stripe, tonight.  Another sign that his head isn’t in it.

* Love misses a wide-open three.  If Wolves could make anything, even some free throws, they’d be right in this, instead of down 9.  It’s getting too late for a comeback, and they’ll need stops almost every trip down.

* Beasley hits a corner three–a much needed bucket for he and the team.  Wolves starting to get key stops, after slew of Brandon Jennings baskets and free throws.  Only down 5 with 2+ minutes to go, which seems crazy given how so many things have gone wrong.  Beas hits another shot after some other sequences to cut it to 2.

* Jon Leuer, yes–Jon Leuer–just dunked over Anthony Tolliver, and the foul.  Huge play.

* After some K-Love free throws (he just broke the franchise record for most FTM in a game) Wolves trail by 3 with the ball.

* Love misses a contested 28-footer for the tie.  Game over.  Bad loss, outplayed throughout.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “The Border Battle (BUCKS 98, Wolves 95)

  1. Joe in Minneapolis

    I was in and out of the game last night, but a couple of the fouls on Love seemed very questionable. I wonder if he’s starting to get the superstar treatment that Kobe et al. receive.

    Ridnour also looks to be pressing. I like his energy (going after loose balls etc.), but I saw some bad turnovers (full court passes to clearly covered players). I agree with your comment that Ricky needs to play the whole game. He looks like the real deal.

  2. Good stuff here Andy – couldn’t agree more that Rubio’s minutes need to be as many as his little lungs will allow.

    • Thanks for checking it out – we’ll try to post something of (hopeful) value after most games. If those double-digit losing streaks of recent seasons past return… I can’t make any promises.

  3. Joe, I’m still wrapping my mind around this incredible foul-drawing of Love. Sometimes it seems as if he’s tangling with a big man and is smart enough to exaggerate whatever it is that’s being done to him–particularly when we’re in the bonus. But many other time’s, he’s just in better position or using wise head fakes to draw contact. In any case, it’s a great thing for the team.

    Luke is in an awkward position, but I can’t say he’s playing much different than I remember in the past. I tend to think he’d be best if placed next to a more ball-dominant wing. He can definitely shoot the ball.

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