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Bad Defense in "The Good Land"

Game 65 @ Milwaukee: Bucks 101, Spurs 90

So that's that. Personally, I blame Matthew for jinxing us with all that high falutin' Spanish. Oh how he enjoys mocking my ineptitude with the language. He hates me because I have hair you know. Y'all might think me an' him are tight, but it's simply not true. Dude tried to trade me for some snack cakes for fuck's sake. Only reason I'm still here is because I failed my physical and the trade was nixed.

Going into the game I had a nagging feeling that the streak was about to end. The vibe was all wrong. The team had been playing less and less inspired ball for the past two weeks, cruising for entire quarters at a time, much like their M.O. before ze streak. Sure, Manu saved a couple of games, and the defense was generally pretty tight; plus we were privy to Fin's best stretch of the season, as his play skyrocketed to "adequate" in March after four months of "atrocious." Not only were the guys playing with less energy and spirit with each successive conquest, but lately it seemed as though the coach was hell-bent on restoring order as well; constantly employing questionable line-ups and bizarre rotations to see how his charges would react to artificial adversity.

Seriously, Melvin Ely in the 1st quarter? What the cock was that shit? And why did Matt Bonner fall out of favor all of a sudden? The guy played entire fourth quarters in our last two wins and yesterday he was relegated to strict garbage time duty, even with Fab injured? And talk about putting Beno in a position to fail. Guy hasn't played all game and now he's supposed to bring you back from the dead with five minutes to go? Of course a loss wouldn't be a loss without tinyball being prominently involved.

I'm not saying Pop threw this game or that he's ever thrown a game. But there are certainly some games he tries harder to win than others. Sure, he's always poking, always prodding, always looking to send a message that lazy play on defense will never be tolerated, I get all that. I just two small qualms with his philosophy - 1) I wish players could be put in the doghouse for offensive incompetence/selfishness as easily and 2) If you want good defense you should play good defensive players. You can't play Fin at the four and Bones at the three and expect to have the same results as you would with Timmeh and Bruce.

Awesome Brent, god forbid you get in an offensive player's way. (Jeffrey Phelps, AP)

I'm not trying to make excuses for the lesser defensive players, but c'mon these guys never locked anyone down even when they were in their primes and now they're at the tail end of their careers. It's idealistic and cliché to say that great team defense is all about smarts and hustle and desire, but that's a childish Pollyanna attitude. All those qualities obviously help but at the end of the day defense is like any thing else - you need to have the talent for it. And demanding great defense from our elderly swingmen makes about as much sense to me as scolding Vaughn or Bowen for missing 18 footers.

So that's my Pop rant.

Besides that we have no excuses. Our big three all played like crap in one way or another. Tony wasn't nearly as unselfish or astute with his decision making as his eight assists suggest, but at least he came out of the gates with a pulse and the same couldn't be said for Tim or Manu. He got benched in the fourth for giving up and-1's on back to back Milwaukee possessions, but I dare say the coach had a hand in that fuck up as well. Pop rested Tony far too little in the 3rd quarter, inserting him back in to the game after only 1:34 had elapsed with Vaughn running the show and consequently I think the wee Frenchman was a bit pooped there at the end and probably tried to rest on defense.

Tim missed a handful of shots he usually makes and had an abysmal time at the line, clanking four of his first five with the other effort reaching the end of its parabolic arc some 13.7 feet from where it started. He did gather half of our rebounds, but believe me, that's not a good thing.

Manu somehow managed to score 12 points on 10 shots, even though he only made two field goals, but except for maybe the first four or five minutes of the 4th quarter he was a complete zombie and looked like he'd rather be anywhere else. He was as noncompetitive, on both ends of the floor, as I've seen him in a long time.

Really, this total dud of a performance expected, but I'm more surprised that the Bucks don't have one of the best home records in the league. Really, is there a drabber city visit in the NBA? The fans aren't into it, the arena sucks, the city's boring and the Bucks uniforms are even dull. Their best player is a freakin' jumpshooter. You wanna be the guy in charge of a marketing campaign spearheaded by Michael Redd? Knock yourself out. I found out during the opening tip that their new coach is Larry Krystkowiak and not Frank Brickowski as I had written in my preview and I don't feel the least bit remorseful about it. The Bucks haven't mattered a lick since Nellie quit coachin' em. And don't even mention the "Ray Allen Era" because Matty boy will just unleash a stream of obscenities at you.

The only two details about the game that I can still clearly recall are these... First Tony got Mo Williams to flip out and get ejected on an awful blocking call that should have either been a charge or a traveling violation on our guy. Dolph Schayes or Paul Mokeski or whoever's coaching the team should have never had Williams out there with four fouls in the 3rd quarter to begin with, but still we caught a break there. Is it just me or do more guys go bonkers against us than any other team?

Holy coronation! (might lose something in the translation) (Jeffrey Phelps, AP)

Second, this clown who's the color guy for the Bucks' TV broadcasting team annoyed the fuck out of me. I was so infuriated with this scatmuncher I actually looked up his bio. Apparently his name is Jon McGlocklin, his eleven year playing career ended two years before I was born, (and I'm not that young) and he's mighty proud of his career 85% free throw percentage. Mr. Ass for Brains was repeatedly scolding Duncan for missing his free throws and saying things like, "I could have shot over 58% blindfolded."

Great. You shot freebies better than Tim. Congratulations. He's better than you at EVERY FUCKING THING ELSE. Even I suspect, broadcasting. I knew the guy was a complete doofus for sure when his on air partner, play-by-play guy Jim Paschke, mentioned that as impressive as McGlocklin's percentage was in the pros, it was even gaudier in college, at 92%. McGlocklin took what was clearly meant to be a complement as an insult and defended his FT dip in the NBA thusly, I shit you not.

"Well, I got to the line a lot more often in college and I think with free throws the more you shoot them the better you get at it."

Yup. That's definitely Tim and Shaq's problem. They're just not getting to the line enough.

Jesus on a boat they will literally let ANYBODY work on television if at one point they were a professional athlete.

Anyway, tomorrow is a new day and overall I will not let one little loss to the Bucks spoil what has been an otherwise great couple of days for me personally. Oh, that reminds me, Matthew you need to IM or call me dawg. I'm not going to disclose this great thing that happened to me the other day just yet, but all I can say is that it's A) good news and B) I'm totally weirded out by it.

Oh yeah and my Iggles signed Kevin Curtis to replaced the departed Donté Stallworth. Six years for 30 mil or something like that. For that kind of scrill they could have just kept Stallworth, no? Apparently they had injury concerns with him plus there's the looming substance abuse program thing. And Rosenhaus is his agent. At least Philly is spending some money in the offseason. Time will tell if it was spent wisely or not. I don't know a whole lot about Curtis, but that punkass DeAngelo Hall of the Falcons did call him "the fastest white dude in the NFL" a couple of years ago, so he's got that going for him.

Image might be quicker than it appears.

What else is going on? Oh, right, the stupid college tournament. Five whole "upsets" in the whole first round: three # 9s and two # 11s. Woo! Guys hitting 19 foot BOMBS for three and superstars who might someday become 10th men for the Jazz if everything breaks right. Hold me back. For my money both the NBA and NHL regular seasons are a hundred times more meaningful than college basketball if for no other reason than at least most of the time the play is somewhat watchable.

I think people make the mistake with the NCAA tournament of confusing "important basketball" with "good basketball." Sure, with single elimination the stakes are raised, but the quality of play is absolutely wretched. I wouldn't watch midget boxing because "they want it more" or porn with fat chicks because "they're more into it" so why should I watch a bunch of unskilled hoopsters auditioning for the 2nd division of the Israeli league?

Here's the total proof that the regular season doesn't matter in college basketball: I didn't watch five seconds of NCAA "action" all season and so far I'm 26-6 in my bracket. So exciting.

No, that's not me. My clothes aren't nearly that nice. The financial situation is eerily similar though.

Your 3 Stars

3. Michael Finley- I dunno. He was alright.

2. Tony Parker- He wasn't all that bad really. Kind of unfair to single him out I think.

1. Brent Barry- Swish. Olé. Repeat.

Record: 46-19 Streak: L-1
Up Next: Vs. Boston Celtics
A cruel segababa for the youthful Celts right after they fought hard at Dallas and once again they will try to erase their 0-fer in the Duncan era. I would have liked their chances a lot better if the Spurs hadn't crapped out that stinkbomb 48 hours earlier. Is it wrong for me to hope for the visiting announcers for NBA Leaguepass on this one? Does Heinsohn work road games?