Defeat from the jaws of victory for Bucks
Antlerheads, that one hurt. The Bucks lost a game last night they absolutely had to find a way to win. On a night when Charlie Bell and Ruben Patterson held the phenomenal LeBron James under 8 points, on a night when the Bucks controlled the game almost throughout against a top flight team at home, the Bucks lost.
It got away so suddenly. I have a theory that every NBA game has a tipping point. That point from which there is no turning back -- one team is destined for victory, the other defeat. For some reason, when you're at the game, you can almost sense the tipping point. Its weird. Anyway, last night I correctly identified the game's tipping point. To my horror, however, I had the equation backwards.
There were about 5 minutes and change left, I believe. The Bucks led 82-74 and were in clear control. I turned to my girlfriend and said "The Bucks get a stop here and its over. Fini." I truly believe it would have been, too. Everything was going Milwaukee's way. But they couldn't get that damn stop. Instead, PF Brian Skinner fouled Drew Gooden on a fadeaway prayer he threw up in the lane. Gooden then went to the line, sank both throws, and the Bucks troubles began. From that point on, Cleveland absolutely dominated the impotent Bucks, outscoring them 21-4 on their home parquet. It was a gruesome sight.
Terry Stotts has to accept a measure of blame for the disheartening defeat. Inexplicably, he allowed Mo Williams to linger on the bench for far too long as the Cavs seized control. It was maddening. He didn't get Williams in the game until the 8 point lead had become a 4 point deficit. Furthermore, he needed to put a tourniquet on the Bucks bleeding wound far earlier. He did not call a timeout until it was way too late. What was he waiting for?? Again, maddening.
...Michael Redd has to sense when his shot is not falling and then back off. He cost the Bucks by forcing the issue on several possessions. He wasn't hitting anything last night. Is the new old ball bothering him?
...Brian Skinner has turned the Bucks season around, no question. But last night he got absolutely worked by the underrated Cavalier PF Drew Gooden.
...LeBron James showed last night that he is the true MVP in the Association, not World B. Arenas. When his scoring isn't there he can turn to other aspects of his game and still be a force for Cleveland. His basketball intelligence is acute. Last night, when he came to understand it wasn't his night scoring-wise, he began to set his teammates up like a young Larry Bird. Arenas, on the other hand, is lost if his shot isn't falling. He needs to score 35+ just for the Bullets to win.
...The box score will say the Cavaliers dominated the offensive glass last night. That is not a completely accurate picture, however. Time and again the Cavaliers outside shots were so far off the mark that the rebounds were going over the Bucks heads. And I would rather have the Bucks turning and moving toward the glass than have them linger on the perimeter. You can't wait back and assume a shot is going to be a brick. It just so happened that many of the Cavalier shots last night were just that.