The Bucks didn't exactly cruise to a 97-90 win over the Bulls, but they certainly were in the driver's seat after taking control of the game in a 35-22 second quarter. Without Dan Gadzuric's 21 minutes, the Bucks surely would have fallen to the Bulls for the second time this year. But the Dutchman surprised the statistician, paying Bradley Center patrons, and snowed-in Milwaukeeans all over with 14 points, 11 rebounds (seven offensive), and three blocks in just 21 minutes. For the Bulls, Ben Gordon overcame a cold first half to score 22 points, shooting the Bulls back into the game by scoring 15 straight Chicago points to end the third. Derrick Rose added 18/9 with five turnovers and generally lived up to the hype, while Luol Deng scored 21 on 14 shots.
Dan Gadzuric. Using those go-go-Gadzuric arms, he swatted three shots in the second quarter alone. Oh, but there's more. He scored seven points and grabbed eight rebounds in eight first half minutes, sparking a 35-point second period with active play on both ends of the court. "Active" is an understatement. This was classic Gadzuric, a beautiful fusion of chaos and energy. He also swished two huge free throws to give the Bucks a seven-point lead with a shade over a minute to play after one of his six offensive rebounds. For good measure, he followed up Jefferson's miss with a putback to seal the game. He finished with 11 points on 4-5 shooting, 14 rebounds, and 3 blocks.
Charlie Villanueva. It wasn't one of those truly brilliant offensive performances that CV delivers every so often, and that's just fine with me. Villanueva notched a season-high 23 points, topping all scorers in the game. And he did it off the bench and within the offense. Villanueva helped extend the lead early in the fourth quarter by stringing together 11 straight points.
Richard Jefferson. RJ looked as though he was dribbling on the icy pavement outside a few times, getting a bit out of control on a couple occasions. Nonetheless, he got to the line a ton (8-11) when no one else did; he made half of the team's free throws. The result was 21 points on just 13 field goal attempts. The point guards are worthy in this spot too, particularly Luke Ridnour, but we'll get to them in a moment.
- 1. Joakim Noah hit 1-1 and Drew Gooden 1-11 from the field, forming a nearly invisible offensive starting frontcourt.
- 0. At halftime, Michael Redd and Richard Jefferson had combined for zero rebounds and assists. Zero also represents the number of offensive rebounds Bucks starters had.
47.0 %. They didn't quite stay above 50.0 % in the end, but I would love to see this group shoot 47.0% eight days a week.
- Big bench. The last time Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut started together was one month and one day ago, a 94-86 win over the Knicks on Nov. 2. Naturally, much pregame attention centered on their return to the starting lineup. Yet Milwaukee won without big games from either of them. They absolutely helped the team win tonight, but supporting characters stepped into leading roles at the Bradley Center. The pregame notes cited that the Bucks had the third worst bench +/- differential in the NBA. Tonight, the four-man reserve crew combined for +41 rating, led by Ramon Sessions' +18, as the Bucks' backups easily outplayed their counterparts.
- Point guard play. Luke Ridnour and Ramon Sessions teamed up for 19 assists, as many as the Bulls had altogether. Fans have clamored for pure point guards, and these two had plenty more assists than points (14) as well as a minuscule three turnovers on this night. Derrick Rose is well worthy of all the hype in Chicago, but this duo suits Milwaukee nicely.
- December. With the victory over Chicago, and a Pacers loss in Beantown, the Bucks are still in last place, but also only half a game out of third place. November is thankfully over, and this was a very nice game to win in the Eastern Conference scheme of things.
A thorny Rose in the Bucks' side. The Bucks have the misfortune of playing in the same division as Derrick Rose for the foreseeable future, a player whose shine is already far too bright to miss. Milwaukee did a decent enough job of containing the first-year dynamo this time, but Rose won't take long to reach All-Star status. We can take solace in the fact we will get to watch him plenty whilst not having to guard him.
- Malik Allen started. We know Scott Skiles seems to think Allen's contributions can't be quantified. Fortunately (unfortunately?), we can quantify a lot. For instance, Allen came into the game with these numbers: 2.5 points, 1.9 rebounds, 38.1 % shooting, 33.3 % from the line, 5.14 PER (yes, they make them that low). That does not a starter make. Ev-er. Crisis is averted for the time-being since he only played 13 minutes, and played pretty well. But still.
- Bogut's return. Andrew Bogut's return was short-lived after being knocked in the face and out of the game in the third quarter. Is it masked man time?