MILWAUKEE – Scott Skiles summed up Wednesday night in just a short phrase.
“They pretty much owned us,” the Bucks coach said just shortly after watching Memphis cruise to a 108-90 victory at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Except for a short period of time in the first quarter and a short stretch in the third quarter, Skiles was spot on. The Bucks struggled to make shots as the Memphis big-man tandem of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph was as good as advertised.
“They had all the energy,” Skiles said. They had all the toughness, executed better. They took it to us.
“Immediately when the game is over when you expect to win and expect to do things right up there, when the game’s over you are never quite sure how much credit to give the other team and how much you just let them do what they want.”
Skiles estimated the Bucks missed 15 lay-ups Wednesday, with a bunch coming while the Grizzlies built their lead. Guards Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis shot a combined 11-for-38 on the night.
Down 22 points in the third quarter, the Bucks were able to cut the defecit to seven, but a pair of 3s by Quincy Pondexter and Wayne Ellington grew the Memphis lead out to 13 to end the quarter.
That killed Milwaukee’s momentum and ended any hopes of a comeback.
“Maybe 5 percent of the time are you able to come back in a game like that, when the other team pretty much owned you the whole game,” Skiles said. “You are going to need to play perfectly, you are going to have to bang a bunch of threes and you are going to need to get stops you haven’t gotten the entire game. It’s not impossible but against a quality team, it’s pretty hard to do.”
Leading up to Wednesday’s game the talk was of the challenge the talented duo of Gasol and Randolph present. Like a pair of wrecking balls, the pair bulldozed through Milwaukee’s defense and created shots for teammates. Add in 18 points and 9 rebounds from backup center Marreese Speights and the Bucks let the Memphis big men catch too easily and in places they finish easily.
“He plays the game so well, as far as passing, rebounding and obviously he can score inside,” Bucks forward Mike Dunleavy said of Gasol. “Zach (Randolph) and him play off each other real well and they complement each other. It’s a tough matchup. We were definitely outmatched tonight.”
In the end, Milwaukee blew its chance to start 3-0 for the first time since 2005. And according to Bucks guard Brandon Jennings, Friday’s game in Washington is now extremely important.
“It’s a must win in Washington, actually because we have to come back and play Boston (on Saturday),” Jennings said. “We don’t want to come back losing two. It’s a must win in Washington.”