MILWAUKEE -- Just as you cannot fairly crown a GM based on one season, you cannot fairly lambaste a GM based on half of one season.
Right around this time last year (which was 2010, not 2003, it should be pointed out), the Bucks signed Jerry Stackhouse. This year (2011, though it doesn't really matter) they outdid themselves, signing . In Stack's first game with the Bucks, he contributed with some nice passes, some nice outside shooting in the fourth quarter, some nice all-around play, the Bucks came back from an 11-point deficit, and the Bucks won. In the locker room after the game, everyone was feeling pretty good. That was the start of something.
That sounds a lot like this. And while this might be the start of something, let's keep some perspective here: You can not fairly judge a player based on one quarter, or one game.
But even if this is the only game all season in which Temple pushes the Bucks to a win -- and that seems reasonably likely -- it was a game in which Temple pushed the Bucks to a win.
The first three quarters were more of the same from the Bucks, and these keys have written this story too many times before. The point is the Bucks were down by 11 points entering the fourth quarter. They had one player in double-figures scoring (Maggette, 22), they were shooting 38.1 %, it was a race to reach 80 points, and it was Bucks Basketball.
And then Carlos Delfino opened the fourth with a three. It was the start of a 22-3 blitz to start the fourth quarter, which included two long range hits from Delfino and Temple. Earl Boykins scattered in six points himself, scooting around Mike Bibby with comical ease, and big men Andrew Bogut and Larry Sanders did what they do best: Sanders dunked on the second possession and Bogut dropped in a hook from Delfino.
Temple's second three-pointer made it 86-78, but on the next possession he fouled Jamal Crawford from beyond and arc and Crawford hit all three free throws to keep the Hawks hanging around. Right after that, Delfino airballed a three-pointer, and the Hawks drew within 86-84 on an and-one by Al Horford. But Temple and Delfino redeemed themselves by connecting for a corner Delfino three to give the Bucks an 89-84 cushion on one of the real plays of the year at the Bradley Center. So even when Temple missed a pair of free throws, the Bucks stayed up. Because this wasn't an up-and-down game -- it was an up-and-down-and-up game.
Earl Boykins. Mike Bibby has caused Milwaukee problems in the recent past, but he couldn't handle Boykins defensively tonight. Boykins had a fantastic night offensively, and he notably did it without firing a bunch of jumpers. Rather, he didn't take a single one of his 11 shots from outside of 20 feet. It was Boykins who scored an overshadowed team-high 11 points in the fourth quarter on 4-5 from the field and 3-4 from the line. Also didn't turn the ball over in 26 minutes.
. Hard to call a player who didn't score a point in the 34-15 fourth quarter a star of the game, but even more difficult to not honor the one and only starter to show up. Maggette scored 14 in the opening period on 5-8 shooting while the rest of the team shot 2-13. The scorer scored, but how he scored was a surprise: Corey started the game having made 7-28 (.241) three-pointers and then hit 3-4 (.750) from deep tonight.
He scored 22 points on 12 shots in 26 minutes. The other four starters combined to score 23 points on 30 shots in 101 minutes. So he kind of carried them tonight.
He also swipedhard across the face in the first quarter and then held up his hand as if to clarify for the refs that the foul was indeed on him. Smith went on to have an up-but-more-down night, shooting 6-20 including 1-5 on threes.
Garrett Temple. Aced the debut. A well-earned team-leading +11 differential, Temple earned the crunch-time minutes with no-hesitation shooting and even better passing, including a diaganol skip to Delfino in the corner for a three that gave the Bucks an 89-84 lead, the play that really swung the game in Milwaukee's favor for good. Post-game, Temple displayed all of the confidence and decisiveness that he showed during the game:
Coach felt that team we had in there was playing well and got us back in it. And I guess he wanted to reward us. He felt like that was the best team to win the game. And he was right.
28. In the first three quarters, the Bucks scored 22-22-20. In the fourth quarter, Milwaukee's bench scored 28 points: Boykins (11), Delfino (9), Temple (6), Sanders (2).
2. Andrew Bogut made all two of his free throws tonight. The Aussie's 2-2 mark at the line follows a stretch of five games in which he made 1-10 at the stripe. Does any other star player go five games (and 174 minutes) making a single free throw?
10. The Bucks made 10-20 three-pointers. I recently wrote about how last season the Bucks never went more than three straight games without making more than 6 threes in a game. Since I wrote that, the Bucks failed to make more than 6 threes five more games in a row. And so tonight snapped a streak of 15 straight games without making more than 6 threes in a game.
Comeback. The Bucks started the fourth quarter down by 11 points and with a Boykins/ Temple/Delfino/Mbah a Moute/Sanders lineup on the floor. At that point, I was remembering fondly the days when losing to the Hawks actually hurt. The seemingly clear loss -- the Bucks were outscored in each of the first three quarters -- gave way to a numbing feeling. I predicted, expected, assumed a loss. And then the Bucks pulled off a comeback about as shocking as the last time they pulled off a comeback, when they rallied in Dallas a month and a half ago.
Del3Yes. I mentioned in the preview that Delfino was 1-14 from outside in his first three games back. That meant either he was simply cold or he was due to break out -- kind of like the Bucks as a whole the entire season. And while the entire team didn't exactly break out tonight, Delfino got reacquianted with the three ball, making 5-9 from deep. He airballed one in the fourth quarter, but made 3 of his other 4 in the fourth, as the only Buck to play all 12 minutes of the final comeback quarter.
Larry. Sometimes he catches the ball and immediately dribbles through his legs or attempts turnaround fadeaway jumpers that Michael Jordan may or may
not have made, but he also continues to show some nice touch, and most of all, he continues to block shots at an alarming rate: 3 more blocks tonight in 13 minutes Three Two Bad
Backup starting backcourt. Before the game, Scott Skiles spoke well of the backups-turned-starters but also mentioned how it was not the role they signed up for. Then neither Chris Douglas-Roberts nor Keyon Dooling made a field goal in the first half, and neither played a role (together they played 27 seconds) in the fourth quarter comeback. The starting backcourt shot a combined 1-12 (CD-R 1-8, Dooling 1-4) in 43 minutes.
Bogut's offense. Another anonymous offensive game by Bogut, whose two free throws made tonight doubled his output at the line in the last five games put together, as mentioned in Three Numbers. If he isn't going to draw fouls or get to the line or make free throws, fine, but then he is going to have to do a little better than 3-12 or 4-11 from the floor, like he has the last two games.