Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Bucks vs. Bulls

Larry Krystkowiak's first preseason game as Bucks head coach ended in victory as the Bucks downed the Bulls 93-88 in LaCrosse. Aside from this being a preseason game, the Bulls were also without Ben Gordon, Joe Smith and Thabo Safolosha, and the Bucks fielded a much stronger team down the stretch as they took the lead. Some thoughts, which probably shouldn't be take too seriously:

  • No one appeared to get hurt. Success!
  • There seemed to be more effort on defense, though let's not confuse the effort for a fully reformed Bucks team: the Bulls still shot 48.5% and the rebounds were even at 38 apiece. The Bucks did however force 22 turnovers, though both teams looked pretty out of sorts at times.
  • While they didn't shoot well from the field (41.7%) or the line (65.1%), the Bucks did manage an impressive 43 free throw attempts, compared to 30 for the Bulls. They connected on 28 vs. 18 for Chicago.
  • In general Bogut looked very good to me even if his numbers weren't great: 14 pts on 4/10 fg and 6/8 ft, along with 3 rebounds and 2 assists in 21 minutes. The most important thing to me was that his shot looked smoother than last year: his right elbow was more tucked in and he wasn't flipping the ball at the hoop quite so much. He seemed to move OK with his extra weight and was able to use his strength down low, especially against the smaller Joakim Noah. If he shoots over 70% from the line for the season I think we'll see a vastly improved Bogut this year.
  • Krystkowiak threw a curveball with his starting lineup, opting to sit both Charlie Villanueva and Yi Jianlian in favor of Dan Gadzuric. Gadzuric rewarded Krystkowiak by looking pretty atrocious in the first half, though he was a little more effective in the second. Still, I hope we see far more of Bogut playing with CV and Yi the rest of the preseason. Let's keep Gadz primarily as a backup center.
  • Desmond Mason started ahead of Bobby Simmons, to go alongside last season's captains Mike Redd, Mo Williams and Andrew Bogut. I missed most of the first quarter as I tried to sort out my sopcast stream of the game, but Mason and Bogut carried the load offensively in the opening period.
  • Simmons looked very solid in limited minutes, scoring 8 pts in 12 minutes on 3/3 fg and 2/2 3fg. He somehow managed 6 fouls in that span as well. Go figure. Either way seeing Bobby Simmons running around and burying jumpers is a beautiful sight for a Bucks fan.
  • Yi played 15 minutes before fouling out, scoring 3 pts on 1/4 fg, 1/2 ft along with a block, a TO, and two steals. He looked a little nervous, missing an 18-foot jumper in the first half and a corner three in the third quarter, before gathering the ball and hitting a jumper from near the free throw line off a pick/roll later on. He later picked off a pass and went in on Joakim Noah, but came to a jump stop rather than going up strong and got blocked (take it strong big fella!). Defensively I didn't think he looked bad at all in spite of the fouls, and physically his movement and size is impressive even on the court with real NBA players. He got called for a number of borderline fouls, so it's nice to see that the NBA is still enforcing different rules against rookies. Though they did swallow the whistle on one defensive sequence after he had just picked up his fifth foul. He picked up one legit foul trying to catch Thomas Gardner as Gardner was dunking, so that will probably be on the highlight shows tomorrow.
  • Charlie Villanueva was invisible in the first half before hitting a couple threes (truth in advertising: one was banked) late in the game against the Bulls' scrubs. His effort level on defense actually seemed pretty decent in the second half. Remember Villanueva barely showed up last year in the preseason before having a really strong start to the regular season.
  • Redd (3/8 fg, 3/5 ft for 9 pts) and Williams (2/7 fg, 4 pts, 4 assists, 3 rebounds) looked pretty ragged, as the offense seemed generally out of sync. Redd especially seemed to be looking to pass early on, and went to some more iso stuff (read: last year's offense) as the game went on. Krystkowiak has said they haven't worked on offense as much in the first week, so given the Bucks when healthy didn't have much problem scoring last year I wouldn't worry too much about it.
  • Charlie Bell wound up putting up a nice line (13 pts, 7 assists, 5 rebounds) but looked uncomfortable at times against the Bulls' pressure and shot only 2/10 from the field.
  • Royal Ivey was a pleasant surprise, looking active on defense and making 4/6 fg for 10 pts.
  • Awvee Storey had a bunch of open looks in the fourth and made the most of them, scoring 8 pts on 4/6 fg, all in the fourth. He also bowled over Victor Khryapa on one play, earning a technical. It was an interesting sidenote given Storey wrecked the face of Martynas Andriuskivicius while playing with the Bulls' D-League squad last year.
  • Everyone always hates on Noah, but he had a nice game. He might never be a star but he works hard and looks like someone who can be a contributor on a very good team.

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