In a matchup that paired Eastern Conference playoff hopefuls, Toronto teased by storming to an early double-digit lead, but Milwaukee finished with poise and a win. Michael Redd scored 35 point to lift the Bucks to a 107-97 win over the Raptors as the former continued to look like a playoff contender while the latter team played more the part of pretender.
Chris Bosh made nary a mistake en route to 31/5/12 on 12-14. Andrea Bargnani also came quite alive with 21/8/2 and converted 5-6 from deep for the Raps, but Luke Ridnour, Charlie Bell, Redd, and company had fourth quarter fun to propel the home team.
Michael Redd. Embracing a team concept under Scott Skiles, no Buck reached 30 points for almost two months before Redd scored 31 last week. Now the two-guard has surpassed that mark twice in the last three days. Worry not though, because Milwaukee has won both of those games. In a largely lethargic first period for the hometown cagers, Redd ripped the Raps for nine straight points to help Milwaukee hang, and the Bucks rode Redd's 16 points into a three point halftime deficit that seemed like it should have been a lot more. Michael supplied a season-high 35 points along with six rebounds and four assists.
- Charlie Villanueva. Charlie loved playing Milwaukee when he was a Raptor, and he sure seems to like playing the Raptors now that he's with Milwaukee. CV entered the game with nice numbers (14.6 points on 54.0 % FG and 44.0 % 3PT) against his former north-of-the-border mates. Villanueva was productive (25/6/4), and timely, with a jumper to end the first, a stuff of Will Solomon's layup attempt at the second quarter buzzer, and a jumper to provide Milwaukee a 99-97 lead late.
- Ramon Sessions. Ramon hasn't spent much time up here since December commenced, but with Ridnour sort of skidding after a couple scorching weeks, it's nigh time Sessions reasserts himself. Tonight was a step in the right direction as the backup point guard made the most of his 23 minutes with 11 points and eight assists.
- 7. Luke Ridnour was virtually invisible until the last few minutes, but still finished second among Milwaukee starters with a mere seven points...
- +77. So how did the Bucks win then? Well, bench contributed 51 points, and the Bell/Villanueva/Elson/Sessions foursome performed wonderfully and combined for an unbelievable +77 differential. Redd (+11) was the only Bucks starter with a positive differential.
11. Milwaukee nailed 11-26 from long range, led by Redd's 4-10 effort. The three-pointers were plentiful, and they came at just right the time, including three in the last three minutes. Well-done.
Starry night. The lack of stars (Andrew Bogut, Jose Calderon, and Jermaine O'Neal didn't play) was an important pregame theme, but Chris Bosh and Michael Redd shined brightly in a starry night at the Bradley Center. The Team USA gold medalists didn't guard each other on the court, but they might as well have because no one could guard them anyway. Playing on a different plane, both guys made the spectacular look routine as the game progressed.
- Getting better. I have to admit Milwaukee got better, a little better, all the time. A painfully slow start (remember when the Bucks were down 21-8?) saw Toronto take control, ever so briefly. But Milwaukee proceeded to outscore Toronto by five, six, and then seven points in the final three quarters. Ridnour, of course, took the getting better theme to the extreme. He started 0-5 but buried a pair of hugely clutch three pointers late in the fourth quarter to boost the Bucks to victory and turn from scapegoat to mobbed hero.
Pleading the fifth. They won without their top perimeter player (Redd) early this season, and now they've won without their top post player (Andrew Bogut). After looking lost and meek on both sides of the ball early, the Bucks broke through for a win for the first time in five tries playing without Bogut.
- Toronto's J's. The Raptors are top ten in two-point and three-point jump shooting accuracy. And really, it's no wonder that a team with a Jamario, Joey, Jose, Jason, Jermaine, and Jake can shoot the J. But it was a pair of B's (Bosh and Bargnani) who beautifully shot Toronto into a lead for most of the game. We lamented how Milwaukee lost while making half its shots against Charlotte on Saturday. This time, the Bucks prevailed despite the Raptors shooting 54.2 % overall and 42.9 % from deep.
- Jefferson. Richard Jefferson clunked his way to 1-7 for 6/2/2 in probably his worst game as a Buck.
- Not seeing Joe Dunk. This back-and-forth contest didn't allow time for the first-round pick. After his fourth DNP in eight games, it looks we really do need to vote Alexander into the All-Star weekend contest if we hope to ever SeeJoeDunk, you know, a basketball, not that we have anything against oreos or anything.