WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! R.I.P Januempty. You had a good run, but the Bucks win streak stops at nine, as they take down the struggling Detroit Pistons, 104-101.
How do you feel? You probably feel like dancing, don't you? Well let these Bucks fans from last year be your guide to your dancing tonight.
YEAH! JUMP! JUMP! JUMP!
WOOOO! YES! GET IT! UH. UH. UH. UH. UH.
The usual suspects for Detroit were having their way in the first half, led by Brandon Jennings' 20 points. However, some hot shooting from Caron Butler and a regression to the mean on Jennings' part began to see the game even itself out. With the game close late, it looked like the Bucks were on the verge of a seriously disheartening collapse (Brandon Knight getting shaky, free throws being missed, some questionable reffing decisions), ultimately the Bucks but made one or two more plays than the Pistons and came away with a mark in the win column for the first time in 2014. They also matched the Packers win total for a season. Come on, say it with me now! Title-town! Title-town! Title-town!
- Let's have a Caron Butler "bobblehead that we'll say is yours because we put your name on it but it actually won't look anything like you night" every game night. Butler had 30p/7r/5a on 12-21 shooting in 33 minutes of play. Butler's heavy minute load certainly cut into Giannis' minutes (only 22 tonight), but a) you can't really not play a guy on his bobblehead night, and b) if he is also shooting well, there shouldn't be a reason to take him out, especially considering the Bucks have been in dire need for good shooting all season. A tip of the hat to a successful night, Mr. Butler.
- Ersan Ilyasova had a respectable 12 points and six rebounds on not-quite-as-respectable 6-13 shooting, but perhaps what was most encouraging was how healthy Ersan looked. He's by no means springy, but he hasn't looked capable of doing this in quite some time. Or ever, really, now that I think about it. And hey, at least he's not Josh Smith.
- John Henson struggled a little bit with the Piston big men (12p/3r/early foul trouble), so Larry Drew had to go with Miroslav Raduljica for a few more minutes than he's used to. And you know what? He played pretty darn well, all things considered. As our guy Dan Sinclair noted in the game thread, sometimes Raduljica brings the ball down too low and it inhibits his effectiveness on the offensive end. Tonight he found a way around it and finished with 8p/8r/2a and all of the cool things that make him the best tattooed, Stephen King-loving, Harley-enthusiasting guy in the NBA. There are still lots of times where he looks like a bear fresh out of hibernation on the court, but there are also times when he pulls off neat up-and-under post moves with clean finishes and you look around and try and convince yourself that he made that move. It boggles my mind, but at only 25, Raduljica is already putting up damn good efficiency numbers and may be able to work himself into a decent big body going forward. That's pretty rad.
- The Bucks won the rebounding margin 45-40, which is whatever, and they kept everyone but Andre Drummond to single digit totals. That's not easy to do defensively with so many big bodies on the Pistons roster and I'm not even sure as I type this that it could be considered a successful effort, but it stuck out to me and I'm writing so you are just going to have to deal with it, okay?
- Oh, what a relief it is. Look, we're all probably in the same mindset that being in a prime position come draft lottery night is where this team needs to be. But losing every game along the way can leave you feeling pretty numb to an otherwise nuanced season. Winning one game here and there, even if it will disappoint the hardcore tank party, feels really, really good sometimes. When they happen this infrequently (which isn't a bad thing, I guess?), it doesn't even matter how they happen anymore. It feels good regardless, seeing the fans, bench, and staff all engaged and energized makes the future, when it all gets there (hopefully in a way that we've discussed being desirable), that much more exciting.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo didn't have his most impactful game, but made a few really exciting plays. His first was a nice euro(er..gyro?)-step, followed by a twisting, double-pump reverse layup. The second was on a defensive rotation, where Andre Drummond got the ball on the opposite side of the rim from Giannis. Drummond thought he had an easy basket so he didn't go up with full conviction, which gave Giannis a chance to make a play on it, and boy did he ever. He met Drummond's shot at the high point and sent it away. Good things almost came in threes when Giannis nearly chased down a wide-open Brandon Jennings dunk attempt. So close to blowing minds of fans everywhere. So. Close.
The Bucks look to keep Januholyhelltheyrewinninggameshoorayuary rolling when they head to Cleveland to take on the Cavaliers, before returning home to face the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night.