Just like on Saturday against Golden State, the MIL put together a good first half showing before allowing the NOH to run all over them in the second half, as the NOH won 106-92 in New Orleans (recap / video).
Andrew Bogut. It's not so easy to get 20/10 against a guy as big and defensively-minded as Tyson Chandler, and as a result Bogut had a harder time getting the same looks he's been getting during his recent run of 20/10 games. He finished just 6/14 from the field for 13 points, but added 15 rebounds, a couple blocks and generally frustrated David West defensively (5/16 fg).
Mike Redd. After scoring 20 of his 24 in the first half on Saturday, Redd scored 17 of his 19 in the first half today as his fortunes again mirrored those of the MIL. This time he couldn't complain about not getting shots though, as he went 0/7 and had his chances to keep the MIL in it.
Dan Gadzuric. There wasn't anybody else worth noting for positive reasons, so we'll instead use this space to wonder why Dan Gadzuric has found his way back into the lineup of late. Jake Voskuhl and Mike Ruffin are back from injury, so watching Gadzuric run around to no effect (8 minutes, 0/1 fg, 1 foul, 0 rebounds) seems a bit curious. I can only assume this has something to do with his energy in practice or something, but Gadzuric doesn't seem to know what to do with himself since Toni Kukoc left Milwaukee.
17. The number of NOH' offensive rebounds. Tyson Chandler led the way with 20 points (9/11 fg) and 15 rebounds (eight offensive); it seemed like every shot he took was either a dunk or a putback. This is now the second straight game that the MIL have allowed the opposing team's garbage man to notch 20 points, following Andris Biedrins' 8/10 shooting night on Saturday. The term "garbage man" might normally have a pejorative tone, but those guys truly give waste management a good name.
18. The margin by which the NOH outscored the MIL in the second half. The MIL trailed 71-69 near the end of the third, but the NOH scored the last five of the quarter and then 13 of the first 17 points in the fourth to put it away.
84. The points scored by the NOH' starters, who all scored between 14 (Mo Pete) and 20 (Chandler). You have to love how their starting five complements each other.
The first half. I know, it's a broken record: one good half and an eventual breakdown. The NOH have been playing fantastic basketball of late, so it's not exactly a surprise for them to eventually pull away, but it's difficult not to be frustrated as a fan. The MIL shot 50% from the field, outrebounded the NOH 26-20 and had only four turnovers en route to leading 54-50 at halftime. Redd had 15 on 5/9 fg.
Those two dunks. The game started brightly as Yi had a nice move to dunk over Chandler on the right baseline before Bogut used a pretty drop step to dunk on Chandler on the left block. Yi was barely involved beyond that however, and Chandler certainly got his revenge throughout the game with a series of highlight reel dunks.
Chuck Villanueva. Villanueva had been MIA recently, but he popped in 18 points and five boards on 7/11 fg. Unfortunately those numbers were largely in garbage time.
Team defense.Chris Paul spent half the game being guarded by big men, whether it was on switches or simply Mo Williams not picking him up in transition. That allowed him to slash and probe whenever he pleased, and gave ample opportunities for Paul to throw alley oops to Chandler. I'd be shocked if Mo Williams has thrown more alley oops all season to MIL teammates than the NOH connected on today. Seriously, I know Mo isn't a "pure" point but you'd think he could throw a lob to Mason, Bogut or Yi once every ten games or so. Either way, Paul seemed to rope-a-dope for much of the game, not really looking for his shot before finishing with 16 points, 10 assists and seven boards. If Steve Nash can win two straight MVPs for turning around the Phoenix Suns, I can't think of a good reason why Paul shouldn't get similar hype for what he's doing New Orleans.
Transition defense. The game just got ugly in the fourth, as the NOH ran up and down the court at will off MIL misses, with even Chris Paul being on the receiving end of a lob on a 2-on-1 break. The scary part was that the MIL actually took care of the ball pretty well, turning the ball over only 10 times, but the NOH looked keyed in on running whenever possible.
No time to waste. With the season halfway done, the MIL are still just 2.5 games out of the eight spot, but the next week will be crucial for either setting a resurgent tone for the second half or likely condemning them to another lottery appearance (whether one or the other helps them more in the long run is a separate question). The MIL have had a difficult home/road split in the season's first half, so they should get a boost by playing 24 of their last 41 games at the BC. That would help any team, but especially one that's gone 11-6 at home and just 5-19 on the road. Still, they need to elevate their game, as keeping up their current pace of home/road efficiency still gets them to only 35 or 36 wins despite the more favorable split of home vs. road. It doesn't start easily, with Phoenix traveling to Milwaukee for tomorrow night's game.