The Milwaukee Bucks spent approximately 364 days to reach the pinnacle of 2008, a 100-98 win in San Antonio.
In a game that ran the emotional gamut from disbelief to relief, and from horror, uhh, to euphoria, the Bucks prevailed, giving them the 2-0 season-sweep of the Spurs.
Milwaukee watched its eight-point fourth quarter advantage melt into an 88-84 deficit, but cool customers (and the Three Bucks) called Luke Ridnour, Andrew Bogut, and Michael Redd ran off seven straight points to regain the lead.
Tim Duncan led the Spurs with 20 points but struggled to a 7-20 shooting night. Former Wisconsin standout Michael Finley (8-10, 4-5 on three-pointers for 20 points) was the real star for San Antonio.
Luke Ridnour. Luke juked and jived his way to nine fast points early in his sensational third quarter to give Milwaukee some slight separation. He also stuffed Parker, who then rolled his ankle going the other way, on a drive to the hoop. Before that, Ridnour bothered Parker into a technical. Honestly, Ridnour is playing his best ball since November of '06. He finished with a superfly 21/5/6 and two blocks.
Andrew Bogut. Bogut threw down three dunks in the first period on his way to winning the individual and team matchup against Duncan and the Spurs. Drew brought first quarter fury, hitting 4/4 from the field for 8 points, two boards, and two assists. He was even better in the fourth quarter, reemerging with a pair of huge dunks before drawing a charge on Duncan and then calmly sinking two free throws to extend the lead to 97-93. Brilliant, all around. Bogut's fine line: 20/14/4 on 9/13 fg and three blocks.
Michael Redd. Add extra-credit for degree of difficulty on field goal attempts, and Redd would have netted about 45 points tonight, but his real-life 25 will work. Mike's hundred-dollar shots usually only counted for two points at a time, but he piled up enough of those fadeaways to build a Bucks' lead the Spurs ultimately couldn't overcome. 25/10/4 without a turnover for Redd.
68.4 % The Bucks put the awfully awful shooting performance against the Pistons behind them nicely by converting 13-19 (.684) field goals in the first quarter. The finished a pleasing, usually successful 41-80 (.512)
9. Andrew Bogut (9-13), Luke Ridnour (9-15), Michael Redd (9-19) each made nine shots from field for Milwaukee, while no Spur made that many.
- 3. The Spurs had three offensive rebounds combined. Bogut had four offensive boards himself. Tony Parker was the only Spur starter with a single offensive rebound. Thanks for the defensive glasswork, Bogut, Redd, Jefferson, Ridnour, and company.
The Principal. You wouldn't notice it from the box score, but Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (6/1/2) was pretty profound. His early interior passing (he fed Bogut for two early dunks) was basketball beauty, if for nothing else, its simplicity. Luc really has a smooth, soothing effect on both ends of the court. Tonight he ignited the Aussie, who dunked early and dunked late. Call him the Principal, because he's royalty, and he's in command.
Not a Lone Star. Three Bucks stepped up into starring roles in the Lone Star State. Parker/Ginobili is as good as it gets at guard. You know that, I know that, and rest assured, they know that too. Maybe that's why they were so obviously annoyed tonight while Ridnour/Redd outplayed them. The Bucks' starting backcourt duo played like the all-pro's that Parker and Ginobili are, scoring, passing, and rebounding. They had help down low too, where Bogut was superior to Duncan, as each of San Antonio's big three were outplayed all on the same night. That doesn't tend to happen.
- Rolling in the River City. The Bucks let the good times roll in the River City, improving to a delightful and/or incomprehensible 12-8 against the Spurs since the 1999-00 season. It's conceivable that the Spurs could be a number two seed in the playoffs and the Bucks a seven. Unfortunately they can't match up in the first round.
Fourth quarter fright. The Bucks were up 99-95 with 16 seconds remaining and Michael Redd on the line for two free throws... And came thisclose to blowing the lead. Redd made one of two at the stripe, and then Roger Mason (yes, the same do-not-leave-Roger Mason-open-for-a-corner-three-at-the-end-of-the-game Roger Mason from the pregame notes) hit a corner three with nine seconds to go. 100-98. Then Richard Jefferson neglects to inbound the ball for 5+ seconds. Spurs ball. Finally, Duncan gets a good look at a running layup but misses.
For three. San Antonio entered the game as the best three-point shooting team in the NBA and lived up to the label tonight. Whenever the Bucks tried take control, they were met by a Michael Finley or Bruce Bowen or Roger Mason three-pointer. San Antonio made 10-16 (.625) from beyond the arc.
No easy encore. Step two on the Texas two-step is in Houston tomorrow evening, where the Rockets are 10-4.