Bucks again prove their 'margin for error is very small'
NOV 20, 2013 10:26p ET
Right now, the Milwaukee Bucks are the latter. The Bucks lost their sixth straight Wednesday night, dropping a 91-82 decision to Portland in a game much like many they've played this year.
Milwaukee hung around for most of the night only to have one poor, second-half stretch seal its fate. Wednesday's decisive lapse came at the start of the third quarter as a two-point deficit turned into double digits in less than three minutes.
"Margin for error is very small," Bucks coach Larry Drew said. "Margin for error doesn't necessarily mean a turnover, it means coming out starting the third quarter like we did and giving up four baskets in two minutes."
"We can't come out flat and coast into any quarter. We just seem to never recover after that. I thought we fought, guys came in off the bench and did a nice job, but we can't coast into any possession. We're trying to dig ourselves out of a hole and the only way to do that is to play every possession like it is going to be your last possession."
With the exception of losses on the road to Eastern Conference favorites Miami and Indiana, the Bucks have been in games of late. Milwaukee's 2-8 record could be 5-5 or even 6-4 if it had executed in crucial stretches.
Turnovers killed the Bucks on Wednesday, as they committed 19 turnovers leading to 20 Portland points.
Milwaukee had cut the deficit to six points on two occasions only to commit two straight crucial turnovers to help Portland grab control back. Down 76-70 with 10:23 left, bad passes by Khris Middleton and Nate Wolters led to two layups for the Blazers.
After a Caron Butler 3-pointer made it 84-78 with 4:14 to play, Gary Neal and Zaza Pachulia committed turnovers. Blazers point guard Damian Lillard put the game away with a 3-pointer in transition off Pachulia's turnover to make it 89-78 with 2:56 left.
"Everything should be perfect at the end of the game when there's a tight score," Pachulia said. "It just comes with experience and being in the right position.
"We just got together and we might not be on the same page. We just have to keep working hard and getting better individually and as a team because nobody is happy in this locker room right now."
With 11 new players and an entirely new coaching staff, the Bucks were going to be a work in progress if healthy at the beginning of the season. But nine different players -- including four starters -- have missed games.
Despite Milwaukee moving closer to full strength, the players on its roster haven't spent time together on the floor to have a familiarity level with one another.
"We haven't played together," Bucks point guard Luke Ridnour said. "You throw the guys being injured and us having 11 new guys anyway and it's tough combination. We can't use it as an excuse either. We have to find a way to get some wins here and turn it around."
Ridnour agreed with Drew's assessment of the margin of error just being too small to overcome stretches of poor play and a lack of execution late.
"It's tough to play perfect basketball," Ridnour said. "You are going to make mistakes, everybody is. He's right. We don't have much of a margin to mess up and stay in the game. We have to find a way to not have those turnovers and mistakes."
The Bucks locker room had an aura of frustration Wednesday for the first time in what has been a tough start to the season both on and off the court. Sure, Milwaukee has been banged up, but it needs some wins in order to hang around.
"That could be an excuse that we can lean on to make everyone feel better," Mayo said. "At the end of the day, the troops that are ready to go at game time are the ones we feel like we can win with.
"When it comes to nut-crunching time, we need to get the ball to the right players and execute with force, with pace and go out there and take the damn win, plain and simple."
Mayo hurts ankle: The Bucks can't afford another injury to a key player, so when O.J. Mayo came down on another player's foot in the fourth quarter there was an immediate cause for concern.
Milwaukee appears to have dodged a bullet, as Mayo feels he will have no problem playing Friday in Philadelphia.
"I'll be alright," Mayo said. "It's just part of the game."
Ridnour starts: Drew started his eighth different lineup in 10 games Wednesday, as veteran Luke Rindour replaced rookie Nate Wolters at point guard.
Ridnour, who missed Milwaukee's first seven games with back spasms, gave the Bucks an immediate lift offensively.
While Wolters has done an admirable job filling in and taking care of the basketball, his hesitancy to shoot has allowed teams to play off of him.
"I just wanted to jolt it a little bit," Drew said. "Nate has done just a phenomenal job coming in with Brandon and Luke being out. I just wanted to jolt it and get Luke back into a rhythm because he has not played a lot in the last three or four weeks."
Ridnour finished with 13 points, five rebounds and five assists in 30 minutes, while Wolters played 18 minutes off the bench with six points and four assists.
"I'm just trying to get back to playing and get back to shape so I can help us out a bit," Ridnour said. "My back feels pretty good. I can take some hits, so I'm encouraged for sure."
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