Game Notes: Toronto 99 – Milwaukee 105

* People will be talking about Jerry Bayless’ offense, but what caught my attention was his defense. Brandon Jennings came into the game averaging 26 points per game this month and he was held to 11 points while going 4-14 from the field. Bayless’ defense resulted in a 24 second shot clock violation late in the first half and frustrated Jennings throughout the game. When I asked Bayless about his approach to guarding Jennings he told me, “Sometimes we would try to trap him but most of the game I just tried to front him and force him into taking tough shots.”

* One of the turning points in the game was the phantom foul call on Bayless while Jennings was attempting a three-pointer. Jennings went 1-3 from the free throw line. As Rasheed Wallace would say, “Ball don’t lie.”

* Bayless on the team struggling late in the game: “I guess we just had a brain fart.”

* DeRozan went 4-7 from the field in the first quarter (8 points) and then went 5-15 the remainder of the game (13 points). Honestly, why can’t this kid put things together and be consistent from quarter-to-quarter? It’s maddening to watch. Sure, he scored a team-high 21 points, but seeing his play change from quarter-to-quarter is tough to watch. It’s almost as bad as the fact he attempted 22 field goals but only four free throws.

* Here’s what Scott Skiles had to say before the game: “We need these wins. Games like today are the games where you find out the will of your team, how much fight they have and things like that. Can we come in here and beat them again? This is a big game for us. Lets see how the guys react.” I imagine Coach Skiles was happy with his team rebounding from a tough first half to steal a road win.

* Drew Gooden and Ersan Illysova combined for 52 points and 18 boards. Yikes.

* Carlos Delfino was in the Raptors’ locker room after the game catching up with former teammates.

* I know there is value in Toronto holding onto Leandro Barbosa until the end of the season because of the cap space it will clear, but, what about dealing him to Indiana for a draft pick and AJ Price? It would help Toronto add some nice pieces without taking away too much financial flexibility. Plus, it would be great to see Barbosa get a chance to play in the playoffs.

Random Stats: Milwaukee has won six-straight games against Toronto… Milwaukee is 13-4 when scoring more than 100 points… Toronto is 1-10 when they allow opponents to score more than 100 points… Milwaukee ended the first half scoring seven straight points… Ed Davis had his tenth  double-digit rebounding game with his game-high 10 rebounds… Drew Gooden had his 12th game of 20 or more points… Jerryd Bayless scored 10 of his 16 points in the third quarter… 

Bucks Continue To Fight For A Playoff Spot

Milwaukee enters their game against Toronto with a 16-24 record, yet they are only one and a half games back of the New York Knicks for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Even though the team hasn’t had the kind of success they envisioned due to injuries and chemistry issues, Scott Skiles is happy his team is within fighting distance of a playoff spot.

“We want to focus on the teams in front of us and right now that happens to be New York,” Skiles told the media during his pre-game media scrum. “We want to try to catch them and get in. But there’s also a couple of talented teams behind us. Cleveland and Detroit are both playing much better and we’re only a game and a half ahead of them.

“But again, we want to focus on the teams ahead of us and tonight we caught a break when Philly beat them so we have a chance to get back to within a game. We need to take advantage of it.”

Milwaukee is coming off a tough stretch of games where they are coming back to the east coast after WHAT games out west. Throw into the mix that six of their next seven game are against teams that are sub .500, and it’s clear it’s a big part in their season.

Sure, there are some injury issues, but those won’t be used an excuse if the team falters.

“Yeah, but it’s also a great opportunity,” Skiles explained when asked about. “We’re coming off a pretty good week where we went 2-1 and we could have been 3-0 if (Derrick) Rose doesn’t hit that huge shot. Now we start another one where we have back-to-back road games and then we’re home against Cleveland. At the end of that stretch our season is going to be down to the teens. We’ll only have a handful of games to go. So I know it’s a cliche, but we need every win we can get.”

So with a game on the road against Toronto, Milwaukee can’t afford to let up, even if Jose Calderon is out and the Raptors are 13-27 on the season.

“We need these wins,” Skiles said. “Games like today are the games where you find out the will of your team, how much fight they have and things like that. Can we come in here and beat them again? This is a big game for us. Lets see how the guys react.”