New-look Bucks hoping to improve offensively

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There’s no getting around it: the Bucks were a horrible offensive team last season. Milwaukee finished dead last in offensive efficiency, dead last in True Shooting and Effective Field Goal Percentage, dead last in plain old field goal percentage, and dead last in points per game.

Unsurprisingly, the thing the Bucks are talking about right now is how the big draft-day trade that sent away Corey Maggette and John Salmons and brought in Beno Udrih and Stephen Jackson will make the Bucks better offensively next season. Charles F. Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has the story:

If all goes according to the Bucks’ plan, the changes will relieve some of the ball-handling pressure on Jennings and give the team more playmaking options on the floor.

Say Jackson and Jennings are in the backcourt, with Carlos Delfino at small forward, Drew Gooden or Ersan Ilyasova at power forward and Andrew Bogut at center. That would be a conventional lineup.

Or maybe put the 6-foot-7 Livingston in the lineup with Udrih, Jackson, Delfino and Bogut.

There are plenty of options for Bucks coach Scott Skiles.

“It’s not crazy talk to think you could put Brandon and Beno, or Shaun or Carlos, and Stevie (Jackson) in the game with Bogut,” Skiles said.

“You could have three or four ballhandlers out there. Handling the ball and passing the ball, there’s no question we improved.”

The Bucks hope to take some pressure off their shooters by becoming better at finishing plays at the rim: (According to Hoopdata.com, the Bucks finished — you guessed it — dead last in FG% on shots at the rim last season.)

One area that troubled the Bucks last season was an inability to finish plays at the basket.

“That has put so much pressure on our perimeter shooting,” Skiles said. “Both of those guys (Jackson and Udrih) are finishing-type players and their numbers show that. And Shaun will go in there around the rim and be creative and finish.

“We’re focused, of course, on our perimeter shooting. But we always come back to (what it would mean) if we would shoot a higher percentage around the rim, get some dunks and some easy baskets that other teams get.

“Then you don’t have a tendency to overreact to Carlos (Delfino) missing a three. When all the pressure is on your perimeter shooting all the time, it’s not a good mix.”

The Bucks’ offense has nowhere to go but up after their miserable showing last season — time will tell if their new-look lineup will allow their offense to improve enough to get the team back to the playoffs after a disappointing 35-47 season.

Chicago does humor with “Beauty and the Bull” snapchat musical

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The Beauty and the Beast movie is both a hit and ripe for satire. Or just amusing spinoffs.

Enter the Chicago Bulls, with Benny the Bull mascot and Robin Lopez pitching in on a musical takeoff of the film promoting the team.

Well played Bulls.

LeBron James drives through Wizards defense, dunks on

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Even when they are getting beat — and the Cavaliers have some issues to shake out before the playoffs start — there are a couple times a game that LeBron James makes a play that is stunning.

For example, splitting defenders out high with his dribble then going in and dunking on Ian Mahinmi. LeBron did that Saturday night.

The Wizards beat the Cavaliers and Cleveland has issues that are bigger than LeBron’s goggles (Boston can tie Cleveland for the top spot in the East with a win Sunday), but never doubt LeBron’s explosiveness.

Raptors’ Patrick Patterson taunts Mavericks’ bench after three, Rick Carlisle talks back (VIDEO)

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Toronto handed Dallas its 41st loss of the season Saturday night, which means with the Mavericks’ next loss their streak of winning seasons will come to an end at 16.

Toronto was talking a lot of smack while getting that win. At least Patrick Patterson was when he was draining corner threes in front of the Mavericks’ bench. On the one above, Patterson chirps and coach Rick Carlisle goes back at him verbally. They both pick up technical fouls for their trouble.

I’m surprised this doesn’t happen a little more during games, there’s a lot of talking down there

Serge Ibaka, DeMar DeRozan lead Raptors past Mavericks, 94-86

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DALLAS (AP) — DeMar DeRozan and Serge Ibaka scored 18 points apiece, and the Toronto Raptors clinched a playoff berth after their fifth straight victory, 94-86 over the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night.

The Raptors, who came back from 15-point deficits to win each of their last two games, made it a little easier on themselves Saturday. Toronto scored the game’s first seven points and never trailed in dealing the Mavericks’ playoff hopes a damaging blow.

Harrison Barnes scored 23 points for Dallas, which missed 18 of its first 22 3-pointers and finished just 7 of 28 from behind the arc.

Patrick Patterson added 14 points for Toronto, including a perfect 4 for 4 on 3-pointers.

The Mavericks fell four games behind Denver for the final playoff spot in the West.

Toronto led by as many as 16 points in the first half and by 15 early in the fourth quarter before a 10-0 Dallas run made things more interesting.

Dorian Finney-Smith‘s free throws with 7:57 to go brought the Mavs within 79-74, the closest they had been since 7-2 early in the game. But Ibaka made consecutive jumpers to restore a nine-point lead, and Dallas got no closer than six after that.

The Raptors had their biggest lead at 42-26 in the first half. Barnes scored Dallas’ last 11 points of the half to help cut into the lead, but Toronto led 54-44 at the break.

J.J. Barea‘s long 3 at the third-quarter buzzer again brought Dallas within 10 at 74-64.

TIP-INS

Raptors: Coach Dwane Casey said he was hopeful that guard Kyle Lowry would return from wrist surgery before the end of the regular season. “I know he’s doing a lot of conditioning, a lot of work to keep his body in shape,” Casey said. “Just let him rehab, let him do his thing and trust our medical people.” Lowry has missed the last 16 games. . Toronto was also without starting forward DeMarre Carroll due to a sore lower back. P.J. Tucker started in his place.

Mavericks: Seth Curry with 11 points and Yogi Ferrell with 10 were the only other Mavs in double figures. . Nerlens Noel started his second game in a row at center for the Mavericks, who have gone to a big lineup. They’ve moved Dirk Nowitzki to power forward, Barnes to small forward and Curry to point guard.

STREAK IN JEOPARDY

The Mavericks took their 41st loss of the season. Their next loss will end the NBA’s second-longest streak of .500 or better seasons – currently at 16 seasons. Their last sub-.500 season was 1999-00, when they finished 40-42 and Mark Cuban became owner of the team in January 2000.

San Antonio has the longest streak of .500 or better seasons with 20, including this season.

ABOUT THURSDAY NIGHT

Cuban couldn’t resist giving his opinion on Barea’s ejection from the Mavericks’ victory over the Clippers on Thursday night. Barea was called for a flagrant 2 foul for pushing Blake Griffin, a player with a 10-inch height advantage over Barea.

“I just feel bad for Blake,” Cuban said. “It’s hard to come back from a knockout like that. We sent flowers to his family, condolences. I can only guess that he’s going to be drinking through a straw for a long, long time.”