MILWAUKEE -- Undefeated.
In a battle of Central Division favorites, the much-ballyhooed matchup pitting the rival Bulls and Bucks lived up to its fantastic billing. The imposing frontline of Brian Scalabrine, Omer Asik, and James Johnson couldn't break through against the impenetrable resoluteness of Earl Boykins, Chris Kramer, and/or Brian Skinner, and company.
There are seven more of these: Don't get carried away by any one of them.
So NBA in early October is not the same (or vaguely familiar) as NBA in early May. But 157 days later, the Bucks were back playing ball at the BC, and that was nice.
Nine points for the nine-point win...
The Prince. With all the offseason roster shuffling, Luc Mbah a Moute seems like the one that could have been most lost in it all. But not if he is hitting spot-up jumpers (twice??) like today. Small sample size, small bit of contentment...
Moving (and looking) on up. The new scoreboard is a bright spot, pun intended. The stadium just feels lighter, clearer, sharper, better... So even if it still the Bradley Center, it's like the Bucks have finally moved out of the 1980's and into the 1990's. Just kidding. Into like 2002. Just kidding.
Truth is, I have never personally been overly dissatisfied with the BC as a building/arena. The court is basketball-shoe-squeeky-clean, the court dimensions are right, and what else matters? Okay, I'm different. I get that the sight lines and amenities and so forth aren't up to today's par, and I get that you need such things to sell tickets, because it's an event in the end, not just a game. And that's okay. And anything that brings in more fans can only help the Bucks win more of said games.
Gooden good on offense. The offensive fouls (a couple early on) were not so becoming -- we are used to Bucks drawing charges, not the other way around. That said, it was good to have a post player go to the basket with reasonable confidence and with reasonable success.
Just having an offensive option down there when Bogut is out feels like a Thanksgiving or something.
Bucks scouting report
update. So the Bucks are still rebounding a lot (they outrebounded Chicago 42-27)... and they are still fouling a lot (26-23). Despite the influx of new talent, the Bucks have not gone soft with the recent additions, judging by fouls: Douglas-Roberts (6), Sanders (3 in 14 mins), and Gooden (3 in 20 minutes).
Incorrig-a-Bull. Kyle Korver may have been blocked by the rim on a wide-open layup, which coincidentally could prove to be a useful defensive technique against the Bulls in matchups to come. The only real debate from my vantage point was whether the ball hit the rim, knicked the backboard, or fluttered up to the bottom of the net before dropping back down.
Korver also led everyone with 22 points on 7-12 shooting, had three steals, two assists, and no turnovers. But still.
If you can beat 'em... join 'em. Earl Boykins made no small (okay, okay) impression last year in Milwaukee by torturing the Bucks generally and Brandon Jennings specifically over and over.
More than just a little clutch (okay, I'm done) last year, Boykins dropped 12 fourth quarter points to boost the Bucks to a win in the decisive final period. Jennings wasn't feeling it tonight. In fact, he was downright bad, missing all five shots, getting blocked, fouling, stumbling, and turning it over five times for good measure in just 18 minutes.
I'll hold off (a few months) before deeming it a sophomore slump for Jennings, and despite Earl's wondrous re-debut with the Bucks, I can't really see him getting much court time come the regular season. He is routinely overmatched defensively (though not tonight), but on occasion, he can create offensive mismatches too, as Jennings knows well from last year.
I don't expect Boykins to even really be part of the rotation, in fact I don't expect there to even be much of a rotation. But Boykins might just be useful as a third point guard, and Dooling ran the offense quite well today too as Brandon's main backup.
- Squad Six relocated. New seats, same verve. They sit behind the east basket now. They sang "Dude Looks Like a Lady" when Noah shot free throws, there is a Gumby character, and they made sure that a preseason game didn't quite have a preseason feel.
A look at the rooks. A look at one of the rooks, anyway. Larry Sanders looked good, while Tiny Gallon looked on from the bench.
Sanders was up and down, as you might expect, and and as you should expect going forward. He started with a nice runner in the lane, and made his first three shots. His fourth attempt though had all the familiar signs of deciding that he was going to shoot it three minutes earlier while in the huddle. He received the ball on the wing, took a dribble and just threw at the hoop, a hopeful look to say the least. Lots to like though.
Meanwhile, it's overwhelmingly apparent that Tiny Gallon (who did not play, despite someone named "Chris Kramer" playing) is on the outside looking in at the NBA.
Number 40, Kurt Thomas, checks in for the Bulls. Aw.
The Bucks now have a rightful glut of big men in the stable, and yet here I was, sort of missing a 38 year-old (happy belated birthday from Monday the 4th) 6'9" journeyman center. He just does all sorts of "right" on the court (and in the locker room for that matter), and I hope that whoever assumes his 09-10 role as Absurdly Steady Backup Center will eclipse his overall production and come even close to matching his team-centric play.