Home cooking: Bucks’ offense shows some life
Or maybe the shots just started falling. The Bucks couldn’t say for sure afterward.
The bottom line for the Bucks was a third straight victory at home without a defeat against four straight losses on the road.
“It was good to see the ball go through a couple times,” coach Larry Krystkowiak said. “It’s been a struggle for us statistically (offensively). It’s not what any of us expected. The defense kept us in the game and gave us a chance.”
Guard Mo Williams, who handed out 12 assists and made two big plays in the final seconds, said, “It was just making shots. We had great shots in the first half. We just weren’t making them. We just stayed with it and stayed confident. We just haven’t found our groove yet (offensively). I’m glad it’s early rather than late.”
Despite shooting 34.6 percent, the Bucks led by six at halftime. But then they heated up and made 22 of 34 shots (64.7 percent) in the second half and led by 11 with 8 minutes, 57 seconds to go.
Memphis then charged back to tie the score, 98-98, with 34.4 seconds left, but Milwaukee’s Desmond Mason took a handoff from Williams and hit an 11-foot jumper with 13.6 seconds to go. Williams then stripped the ball from Memphis point guard Kyle Lowry on a drive, was fouled and made two foul shots with 7.2 seconds left.
But the Bucks still weren’t out of the woods as Memphis’ Mike Miller was fouled with 2.5 seconds left on what looked to be a pretty good block by center Andrew Bogut. He made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second. The rebound was swatted out to Pau Gasol, who missed a three-pointer at the buzzer.
Michael Redd and Bogut provided the Bucks with a nice inside-out combination as Redd scored 31 points and Bogut finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Mason, the team’s go-to guy down the stretch on this night, scored 15 points, and Yi Jianlian grabbed 13 rebounds.
Redd scored 20 points in the second half, and Bogut had 14.
“We wanted to try and establish the post a little bit,” said Krystkowiak. “We got Des some looks and tried to be a little more aggressive. And obviously, Mike got it heated up from the perimeter. That certainly helped.”
The big play for the Bucks came after Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay hit a three-pointer to achieve the final tie with 34.4 seconds left. Without taking a timeout, the Bucks advanced the ball and Williams fed Mason for his clutch jumper.
“Coach was asking for a timeout at the same time I was calling the play,” said Williams. “He looked at me and said, ‘Hey, go ahead.’ Calling timeout in that situation kind of gives them time to sit back and concentrate on defending us. Des has worked on that shot every day in practice. I was confident.”
Said Mason, “If I’m open and they pass to me and have the confidence in me to make a play, I’m going to try and make a play. One dribble and a pull-up . . . I shoot tons of them in practice.”
Asked about the decision not to take a timeout, Mason said, “I think coach and Mo were able to communicate down the stretch. I think he gave Mo the ability to orchestrate the offense. When you give your point guard that kind of ability and freedom, I think they operate a lot better.”