MILWAUKEE -- You don't judge a book by its cover, sure, but you also don't judge a book by its first 75 pages.
And you don't judge a basktball game by its first hour.
Not a lot to celebrate early in this one from a general perspective. Or a Blazers' perspective. Or Bucks' perspective. Milwaukee staked an early lead, and that was nice. But nothing terribly distinguishing played out on the court before halftime.
Early on, Joel Przybilla was scoring, Brandon Jennings wasn't, and it was as exciting as that sounds.
So who could have guessed that this would be the most riveting game of the season for the Bucks? (Or at least the most riveting game in which the right team won.)
In his again-return, Michael Redd came off the bench and hit a jumper right away to give the Bucks a 10-9 lead. Milwaukee wouldn't trail again in regulation.
But Brandon Roy tied the game on a dazzling turn-around fadeaway jumper with 12 seconds to go in the game. Brandon Jennings put just barely too much on a potential game-winner, and to overtime we went. Jennings redeemed himself by hitting a floater to complete a six-point comeback and force double-overtime. From there, Luke Ridnour (naturally) took charge, and Milwaukee's team defense did the job, allowing just one field goal in the second overtime.
Sure, you can't judge a season by its first 22 games, even after a storybook ending to a game.
And at 11-11, the Bucks are in some ways right where they started. But as has been the case all season, they are far ahead of anywhere they have been in a pretty long while.
Andrew Bogut. Jennings dished to Bogut for the first bucket of the game, and that boded well. For both of them. Finest night of the year for Bogut scoring-wise (27 points) and for Jennings in the assist column (11).
Old friend Joel Pryzbilla eclipsed his season scoring average (3.9) in the first two minutes of the game, but this was Bogut's night from then on. A brilliant offensive game in the paint for the Aussie, who scored a season-high 27 points on 12-19 shooting.
The only thing that could stop Andrew were fouls, but he picked up his sixth with just a minute left in the second overtime and the Bucks up five, so all was fine.
And after a 3-4 night, guess who has now made eight of his last nine free throws?
Luke Ridnour. How long can Luke Ridnour's hot streak last? Another two hours and fifty-two minutes, at least.
Ridnour's shooting splits from previous seasons and from different areas on the court lent evidence that his hot start would probably be just that: a hot start. If you shoot around 40.0 % through six seasons, you don't just start hitting around 50.0 %.
So to make the point, he shot 70.0 % tonight. Ridnour was instrumental in the second, decisive overtime, scoring six points. Those six points were just as many as the Blazers scored in the second overtime.
Yet another superb post-arm injury effort by Ridnour, who hit for 20 points on 7-10 from the field and 6-6 from the stripe.
He's not an All-Star, Olympic gold medalist, or the franchise's fifth all-time leading scorer. And he's not really a shooting guard at all. No, he is not Michael Redd. But he is quite a tremendous off guard for Milwaukee so far this season.
Brandon Jennings. This was a curious game for Mr. Jennings. But a nifty one, in all.
He didn't shoot the ball in the first half. Kind of a big deal for a player who attempted at least 11 shots in every game prior. In fact, Jennings had at least 14 field goal attempts in 19 of his first 21 NBA games.
Jennings' passivity was doubly strange considering he was coming off his best shooting night (8-14 in the win over Toronto) since the game against Golden St.
And then there was the third quarter. Jennings carried the Bucks with 12 points in period, almost as many Portland's 15. He made three from deep, a jumper, and a technical free throw. Nothing from inside, all classic (November 2009) Jennings. It was the team's best quarter, and it provided a cushion they ultimately needed.
Then he struggled some in the fourth quarter, culminating in a just-too-much jumper that would have won the game in regulation. No worries though, and no lack of confidence for the kid, who came right back to nail the game-tying, floatier to tie the game in the second overtime.
Despite not shooting until a few minutes into the third quarter, Jennings got into double digit attempts. Easily. He shot 7-17 in the game.
Something else more double-digit-newsworthy? Young Buck notched 11 assists, a personal high and the first time he's reached more than nine in the League. Here's to many more.
6. The Bucks totaled just six, count 'em, six fast break points in the game. The Blazers had seven. Another six for ya: Milwaukee scored just six second-chance points, compared to 23 for Portland. And this worked?
49.5 %. Milwaukee shot 45-91 (.495) from the field as Portland made 37-92 (.402).
52. Lamarcus Aldridge played a lot of minutes (52) tonight. Pretty useful (31 points, 11 rebounds) out there too.
D on Roy. Carlos Delfino only shot 4-12 from the field, only 1-4 on threes. But he sure brought everything else.
The Argentine (9/8/5, +24 differential, 3 steals) guarded Brandon Roy ever-so-skillfully late in the game after Luc Mbah a Moute heeded the task early.
Delfino made one of the biggest defensive plays of the game by stripping Roy of the ball in the second overtime, leading to a Ridnour layup on the other end, leading to a 104-99 advantage.
Roy made that impossible shot to tie the game in regulation, but just only converted 2-6 in the overtimes and 8-24 from the field overall.
D in OT. Portland entered the fourth quarter down 10 points, but Lamarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy combined for 15 points in the final five minutes and change of the game to tie it up.
The once-rocking Bradley Center was a bit reserved to open overtime, but the Bucks clamped down and allowed just 14 points in the 10 combined minutes.
Two of the best defensive clubs in the NBA on the floor tonight, and Milwaukee really showed it at the end.
Fight. After leading pretty much the entire way, the Bucks found themselves down by six in overtime. That could break a weak team.
A weak team.
Not free. This always makes my job writing Bad easier, even in wins.
The Bucks went into halftime 3-8 at the free throw line. That's more like it! We were all pretty confused and upset by the "miracle" 24-28 night at the line against Toronto anyway.
This is Milwaukee, and so the rest of the game wasn't much better, and they finished 10-17 at the line. Michael Redd missed both of his attempts, and he is at 63.2 %. So the one player on the team who's historically been able to both get to the line and convert at the line can neither get to the line nor convert at the line.
Not good news for the team that ranks last in the NBA in free throw attempts per game.
Three for Andre Miller? Not so sure what happened there, but...
After Jennings scooped in a layup to give the Bucks a 106-101 lead with 42 seconds in the second overtime, Portland called a timeout. And out of that timeout, Portland found Andre Miller for a three point attempt.
Dude shot 8.8 % on threes one year. And that was the year after he shot 5.3 % on threes.
Now, I realize that Rudy Fernandez is out. And that Steve Blake is much better in those situations, but that he missed a three of his own right after that and finished 1-7 from long range. And that the Bucks were not about to let Brandon Roy get a look
But Andre Miller is about as bad of an idea as it gets when you need a three, save Joel Przybilla. Who, by the way, made one fewer free throw than Andre Miller did in 2006-07.
I made one fewer three than Andre Miller did in 2006-07.
Lakers? Next up is Los Angeles, defending champs and holders of the best record in the NBA at 18-4. Of course, the Bucks are 9-3 at home and the Lakers are 3-2 on the road, so...