Mon. Final: Timberwolves 90, Bucks 83
By Todd Welter
Next game: Wednesday, January 28 at Indiana
The first game without Michael Redd showed just how much the Bucks are going to miss his services the rest of the season. Without their leading scorer, who is out for the rest of the year with a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee, the Bucks struggled to shoot the ball all night in a 90-83 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves (16-27) at the Bradley Center.
The Bucks played 14 games previously without Redd and won just five games. During that stretch the Bucks played much like they did in this game-having an ugly shooting percentage as Milwaukee shot 40% from the field. The Bucks really missed Redd from three-point range as Milwaukee made just 1-14 three-pointers.
"I really can't even fathom what that has to do with playing hard and having intensity other than it being an excuse," Bucks head coach Scott Skiles said about Redd's absence.
"Playing without Mike and Bogut definitely hurts us, those are two very good players" Bucks' forward Charlie Villanueva admitted.
"Can't use it as an excuse," Bucks' guard Luke Ridnour said. "You got to come out and play, still make plays, make shots and get stops. We got to get back to running and getting stops and find a way to get it done."
Ramon Sessions tried to make up for the loss of Redd and Bogut but it was not enough to lead the Bucks to a win. Sessions scored a team-high 18 points.
"He was probably the only one that had a solid game out there, everybody else was struggling to really shoot the ball or get into any kind of rhythm," Bucks' forward Richard Jefferson explained.
Bogut may have been the player the Bucks were missing the most especially his defense down in the post. Timberwolves' big man Al Jefferson was able to go off on the Bucks for a double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds.
"He's one of the best post-players in the league," Villanueva said. "He's a problem down there. He's a great player. I believe he is an All-Star."
Ryan Gomes also had no trouble getting to the basket as he finished up with 22 points.
The Bucks shooting woes was none more prevalent than in the third quarter as Milwaukee shot 33% with just seven field goals. The Timberwolves went on a 14-5 run midway during that quarter to a take a 14 point lead which Minnesota carried into the fourth quarter.
"We have come out of the locker room flat since we changed the lineup before the Sacramento game," Skiles thought. "We need to find a way to come out with a lot more energy and intensity than we have had."
The Bucks did charge back in the fourth quarter with a lineup change as Skiles put his three point guards, Ridnour, Sessions, and Tyronn Lue on the floor at the same time. It worked in the beginning of the fourth quarter as the three keyed a 12-4 run to get to within six with six minutes left. Twenty one seconds later, Mike Miller responded back with a three to kill some of the Bucks' momentum. The Bucks cut the lead down to five with 4:10 left but once again the lack off a lock down post defender allowed Jefferson an easy layup with 3:45 left that stalled the Bucks comeback attempt.
"We were pretty much searching all night long for a lineup we could find some intensity with and we kind of found it when we had the three point guards out there," Skiles said. "We were able to keep it close and creep back there but we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. The type of intensity we need to win a game, we probably had for about 10 minutes out of the 48 and it is just not enough."
Jefferson hit a jumper with 2:14 left to cut Minnesota's lead back to five. Gomes responded with a knockout three-pointer with 1:46 left.
The Bucks fall to 22-26 on the year and travel east to face Indiana on Wednesday.