Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bucks Starters Sit Out Practice Leading Up To Game Against Kings

Bucks Injuries
The Bucks saw four power-players sit out practice on Tuesday, due to injuries sustained over the past week. A pair of forwards, a center, and a guard is questionable for the rest of the week, a hitch in the team's resurgence back to the top of the division after losses to the ailing Bobcats and Hornets.

Fortunately, Wednesday's game against the Kings is the first in a back-to-back series against negative record teams. Sacramento is struggling at seven-and-thirteen right now, a struggle that is only enhanced by the absence of point guard Tyreke Evans and leading scorer DeMarcus Cousins, and Friday's game at Cleveland will pit the Bucks against a four-and-seventeen Cavaliers squad.

Nonetheless, head coach Scott Skiles warned against letting the numbers predict any easy wins for his team. At a press conference earlier in the week, Skiles pointed out that the Bucks only narrowly defeated Cleveland at their last meeting, and that, at only a single game above even themselves, nothing is guaranteed for Milwaukee right now.

Ilyasova Injured In Brooklyn

Ersan Ilyasova has also been a topic of discussion for Skiles this week. The forward is the most recent addition to the team's disabled-list, joining fellow forward Mike Dunleavy, point guard Beno Udrih, and center Epke Udoh. Ilyasova went out on Sunday in Brooklyn, after suffering a leg contusion. Udoh was also sidelined in that game, leaving with a sprained left wrist. Both are questionable for the rest of the week, but Ilyasova is expected back sooner-than-later.

Dunleavy is the most indefinite of the bunch. Bruising his left knee in a November thirteenth game at Minnesota, he has not participated in practice since. Both he and Udoh are unsure of when they will be back on the court, Udoh still undergoing treatment for a sprained ankle.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Bucks Take Care Of Bulls In Final Seconds

Bucks Beat Bulls
The Bucks came away (on November 26) with not only one of their biggest wins of the season thus far, but also one of the most important of the five years. Beating the Bulls in a one-point nail biter in Chicago, the night was a quintessential sports moment that had all the right ingredients – a historic one-sided rivalry, a seemingly insurmountable deficit defeated by a brilliant performance by the bench, the end of a pair of losing streaks for the winner, and the retention of the coveted first spot in the division.

Milwaukee came into the United Center on Monday with nine consecutive games dropped to their southern neighbors. Despite that, the Bucks also entered the night at the top of the central division, but would lose that totem if they couldn't find a way to halt a three-game losing streak that began over the weekend.

Head coach Scott Skiles had a few ideas in mind to change his team's fortunes for Monday's game. Most obvious was the absence of star forward Ersan Ilyasova at the tip, being replaced in the starting lineup by rookie John Henson, who was getting his first career start as a professional.

Henson scored eleven points in the first two quarters, leading Milwaukee for the half. Point guard Brandon Jennings also started, quieting skeptics who thought he may be out due to an apparent ankle injury suffered days earlier.

Bulls Have Lead At Half

Despite their best efforts, Henson and his fellow starters were unable to keep Chicago from going into half time with an eight point lead. Lacking a solid defensive presence early on, Milwaukee failed to keep the Bulls heavy hitters away from the basket. They also allowed the usually poor three-point game from Chicago to flourish in the first half, and into the third.

Combining for seventeen points in the quarter, the Bulls Josh Hamilton and Carlos Boozer began a twenty-eight-to-thirteen run for Chicago; Hamilton ultimately ended the night with a season-high thirty points.

With just two minutes remaining in the third, Skiles took his final substitution to put Ilyasova, Doron Lamb, and Beno Udrih onto the court. The trio joined fellow reserves Epke Udoh and Mike Dunleavy, already on the floor. The five would remain in the game through the entire fourth quarter, inheriting a twenty-seven point deficit, but managing a win by the end.

Ilyasova would put up eighteen points on the night, with twelve coming in the final quarter. His remittance to the starting lineup is practically guaranteed after the game-saving performance, though the rest of that line will need to improve. Jennings, the league's best stealer, didn't put up a single takeaway on Monday. Perhaps most essential, however, is the team's three-point shooting, which was just three-of-fifteen against the Bulls, a continuation of the Bucks woes from beyond the arc over the past week.