With Brandon Jennings out at least a month with a broken foot, you'd think the Milwaukee Bucks would be prepared to slink back under their shells and wait out the storm, stealing victory when they could but ultimately resigning themselves to the fact that when Jennings returns, that's when they'll have to make their run.
Monday's 26-point beatdown at the hands of the Blazers gave credence to that theory. On Tuesday, the Bucks took on the Lakers at Staples Center. You'd think a spirited effort and a "hit the showers" would be enough. You'd be wrong.
The Bucks walloped the Lakers 98-79 behind Earl Boykins' 22 bench points. Boykins, the 5-5 guard who has bounced around the league the last decade, hadn't been getting much playing time behind Jennings and back-up Keyon Dooling. That changed in an instant this week, and on this night Boykins made the most of it.
Boykins hit four of his five three-pointers, and did his damage in just 26 minutes of work. The Lakers weren't able to capitalize when Boykins was on defense. Actually, the Lakers weren't able to do much of anything on offense all night. L.A.'s 79 points came in about 81 possessions, far far off the Lakers' league-best offensive standard this season. Of course, the Bucks do have a top defense. But you expect the two-time defending champs to be able to do a bit more.
Kobe Bryant really thinks this offensive foul call with two minutes left was out of line. Check out what he tells the referees to his left as he leaves the court after being ejected.
- Silver Screen And Roll is starting to worry about home court advantage being forfeited in December; Brew Hoops expresses the appropriate level of shock at the result.
The Orlando Magic had a nice little task for Day 2 of its new era: beat the Dallas Mavericks. Few teams can accomplish such a thing while well-rested and completely in sync. In that respect, Orlando made a valiant effort in contesting the game until the final moments. But Dallas' offense broke the Magic's back, and Orlando's own offense -- which featured the three big-money newcomers shooting 6-30 -- couldn't get there despite ultra-efficient games from Dwight Howard (26 points, 11-19 shooting), Jameer Nelson (19 points on 15 FGAs) and J.J. Redick (21 points on 14 FGAs). Earl Clark shot 3-3 in his Magic debut. When Earl Clark does something positive, let's not let it slip by without notice.
The Magic gameplanned to stop Dirk Nowitzki by sending a ton of doubles -- it worked for much of the night, with Nowitzki shooting just 4-13. But Dirk has become a better passer over his career, and his five assists Tuesday were a big boon. The Mavericks are so, so good.
- Orlando Pinstriped Post recognizes how big this challenge was and what the Magic can take from the game; Mavs Moneyball notes that Dallas beat Orlando at its own game (dunks and threes).
In other action:
Bulls 121, Sixers 76: The Bulls were up by 51 points in the fourth quarter. That's what happens when one team shoots 35 percent from the floor and the other shoots nearly 65 percent. Philadelphia's defense took the night off, and were rewarded as such.
Thunder 99, Bobcats 81: Oklahoma City actually trailed by a point heading into the fourth quarter. Charlotte missed its first 11 field goals of the period, and shot just 4-16 in the fourth. Meanwhile, OKC shot 10-16, including 4-7 from long-range. The Bobcats are now 9-19, which is not really playoff material.
Nets 101, Grizzlies 94: Memphis has had some brutal losses of late, but losing to the Nets at home is a bit uncalled for, given that the Grizzlies see themselves as a playoff team and that New Jersey came into the game with an 8-20 record. Brook Lopez (26 points) could not be stopped.
Warriors 117, Kings 109: This game violated the Geneva Convention. DeMarcus Cousins learned the meaning of "choke job"; apparently, he was unclear of the circumstances needed for such a performance to qualify. Universal karma helped him figure it out.
The Kings led by 16 with nine minutes left in the fourth quarter. How did they lose? They didn't score a single point for one 4-1/2 minute stretch that featured as many turnovers (five) and shots at the rim (five). (And only a couple of those shots actually hit the rim.) After a great Tyreke Evans transition lay-up, the Kings went another four minutes hitting just one basket. The Warriors began to intentionally foul with 14 seconds left. The Kings had scored six points in the last nine minutes.
The Kings themselves didn't foul intentionally -- it just looked like it. My favorite sequence is when Beno Udrih fouled Reggie Williams on a three-pointer with 19 seconds left and the Kings up five. Williams missed the first and third (prompting Cousins' choking symbol), but the Warriors rebounded the miss and ... Carl Landry fouled Dorell Wright on a three-point attempt. All those free throws pulled Golden State to within two.
After Udrih missed one of two FTs on the other end, Williams rebounded a missed Monta Ellis three, Udrih fouled him, Williams missed the second intentionally, Cousins fumbled it out of bounds and Vladimir Radmanovic came in for a splash landing.