Bucks Wednesday: Drew says team simply must play better, smarter
Larry Drew delivered a strong line in his postgame remarks following Tuesday’s loss to Golden State, saying the Milwaukee Bucks don’t know how to win.
While the Bucks’ record of 7-27 speaks for itself, Milwaukee’s struggles probably could have been predicted. The Bucks had 11 new players and an entirely new coaching staff, meaning training camp time together was vital.
But mass amounts of injuries prevented Drew from having his entire roster during an important teaching time, time that can’t be made up during the regular season.
"When you have a newly assembled group of guys, there’s a learning phase with a lot of things that you do," Drew said. "I use the term ‘trying to get over the hump.’ We don’t know how to get over the hump yet. And for us, because we are a new group, we have to learn from every experience we encounter."
Does Drew think the Bucks are at least learning through losing?
"When I go back and watch film, there’s a part of me that says, ‘No, we’re not learning,’ " Drew said. "We’re still making the same mistakes, we’re still doing the same things we did back in Week 1. A lot of it is not about Xs and Os. It’s about Basketball 101, natural instincts on different things. We’ve got to be better at it."
The Bucks margin for error is incredibly small, but Drew says that’s not necessarily having too many turnovers but it could be a variety of things. Against Golden State, coming out with a lack of energy to start the second half was what did them in. The Bucks aren’t able to overcome little lapses like some other teams can.
But despite all the struggles, Drew hasn’t seen any quit in the players. The will to get and play better is still there even if the results haven’t been.
"These guys have responded very well to what our situation is," Drew said. "The talk in the huddles, in the locker room, during practice, all these things, what I’m hearing, these guys are still very upbeat, in a competitive spirit. It’s my job to keep them in a competitive spirit. And we’ll stay the course.
Injury update: Bucks forward John Henson did a little bit more in practice Wednesday but still was held out of the contact portion. The Bucks don’t play again until Friday, giving Henson one more day to attempt to get ready to play for the first time in two weeks.
Henson has missed Milwaukee’s last five games and six of its last eight with a high left-ankle sprain suffered on Dec. 20 in Cleveland.
Forward Ersan Ilyasova suffered an injury to his right hand in Tuesday night’s loss to Golden State, but he participated in practice with the hand taped up.
Neal sits: Bucks guard Gary Neal didn’t play against the Warriors just days after being involved in a locker room spat with Larry Sanders.
Drew called Neal not playing, "a coach’s decision" and left it at that. ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reported Tuesday evening that the Bucks are actively shopping Neal and want to move him before February’s trade deadline.
The Bucks signed Neal to a two-year, $6.5 million deal this past summer, hoping the former San Antonio shooter would provide scoring off the bench. The 29-year-old has averaged 10.4 points in 20.5 minutes per game, shooting 39.4 percent from the field and 41.9 percent on 3-pointers.
Because of a sore foot and falling out of the rotation, Neal probably hasn’t played as much as he would’ve liked, as he expected to fill a bigger role with the Bucks than he did with the Spurs.
Follow Andrew Gruman on Twitter