• New Coach, Same Old Results

    By Troy Sparks

    You can't blame ex-Bucks coach Scott Skiles for the team's continuing roller coaster ride. Skiles was let go early in the week and replaced with assistant Jim Boylan. And the team breathed a sigh of relief and even won back-to-back games at home against Phoenix and at Chicago.

    With those two wins at their peak came the valley, Jan. 11, at the BMO Harris Bradley Center against the visiting Detroit Pistons. This was the same team that beat the Bucks at home not too long ago. They have a losing record and really had no business stealing a win on the road and taking the home crowd out of their comfort zone in the second half. So what happened to the Bucks after intermission when they had a 49-41 lead?

    "It was our third game in four nights," Boylan said. "It seemed like our legs got a little heavy in the third quarter, and it was pretty evident that we missed a lot of open good looks that we had throughout the game."

    Boylan counted at least 10 open shots in the first quarter that the team missed, which allowed the Pistons to hang around and take a 25-20 first quarter advantage. The starting lineup that Boylan trotted out there to start the game couldn't find the side of the barn at times.

    Milwaukee shot 40 percent from the field. The starting lineup of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Ersan Ilyasova, Larry Sanders, Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings shot a combined 18-for-49 in the game. Ilyasova was 4-for-14 and was the main guy who couldn't hit the side of the barn. He had some open looks at the basket.

    "For us, like a lot of teams, when you struggling offensively, it can bleed into other areas of your game, and it looks like that's what happened tonight," Boylan said.

    Boylan pointed out that the Pistons have something that's missing from his own team. They have a couple of wide, rugged bodies in Greg Monroe, who scorched them for 26 points, and Jason Maxiell. The Bucks have length but not enough brute strength.

    So maybe it's time to make some deals before the trade deadline to get some muscle on the court. If that's what it takes for the team to make that push for the playoffs, then go for it. Otherwise, the Bucks will continue to be like the little guy who keeps getting pushed in the sand by the muscleman. They have to match physical strength with physical strength.

    Shots were missed in the second half by the Bucks, and their matador defense gave Detroit an 83-62 lead about two minutes into the fourth quarter. Getting away from what they did to win two straight doomed them in.

    "We started dribbling too much," Boylan said. "And everybody wanted to make a play. Good intentions, not necessarily the way that we play and the way we're successful. I think a little bit of fatigue creeps in and decision making becomes blurry.

    "We talked about it in time outs, to get a little more ball movement. For a couple of possessions we would and then we just kind of revert back to everybody trying to do their own thing a little bit."

    That, my friends, sounds like a team that's out of disarray and going through the motions without a main leader as a bench coach. Boylan as interim coach is like a long-term substitute teacher who's there to plug the leaks for the time being.

    Some of the bench players actually got some floor time, like Samuel Dalembert and Drew Gooden, who were in Skiles' doghouse and lost in the shuffle. They played the entire fourth quarter. Boylan said both were a little rusty from sitting on the cushy chairs too much, but they broke a sweat to score a combined 14 points when the 103-87 Detroit win was already decided.

    After a trip north of the border to Toronto, the Bucks head west to Los Angeles, Phoenix and Portland. "We have to find a way to win some games on the road," Boylan said. "Toronto is playing very well right now, so a tough game out of the gate. The Lakers are the Lakers. Phoenix, we haven't won (there) since FDR was in office (actually the last 23 or 24 years). I think we have our hands full all the way through.

    "And then we go up to Portland. Terry Stotts, Terry's team is playing well too. They just beat the Heat (recently). It's not an easy trip, but we'll see what we can get done." Good luck with that trip.