Check out Alex's recap. My first live game of the 07/08 season and the Bucks didn't disappoint, pulling away late to win 110-103 over the Lakers (box / video). The win snaps the Lakers' four-game streak while extending the Bucks' own win streak to four games and improving their home record to 5-0. Knee-jerk reactions:
- Mike Redd was the man, scoring 26 along with eight rebounds and seven assists while playing some very good defense on Kobe. Bryant scored 27 on 7/18 from the field and just 1/5 in the fourth quarter. The two stars were quiet in the early going before taking over in the middle quarters. I expected Mason to draw the task of guarding Kobe, but let's give Redd a lot of credit: he not only took on the challenge of matching up on both ends with Kobe, he outplayed him as well. The idea of Redd d'ing up on Kobe would have seemed far-fetched in recent years, but tonight we saw another great example of Redd's metamorphosis into, gulp, a complete basketball player.
- The Lakers started out strong, leading 22-12 late in the first as the Bucks came out sluggish for the second night in a row. The Bucks' second unit started to get it going in the second and closed within one at half. It was nip-and-tuck in the third but the Bucks' poor close to the quarter saw them go down five heading to the fourth. Bryant hit a long three with eight seconds to go, and after Charlie Villanueva was called for a travel trying to take it the other way, Royal Ivey got beat on a hook-and-ladder play with 1.8 seconds left, conceding a pair of free throws to Bryant.
- For the first 16 minutes or so of the second half it seemed the Bucks had no interest in taking the lead, before a pair of Bobby Simmons free throws gave the Bucks a lead they would never relinquish. Simmons gave the team a much-needed boost in the fourth and finished with 11 points on 3/5 fg. He hit a difficult leaner to start the fourth, had a great play to create a lay-in for Bogut, and then drilled a corner three to give the Bucks a seven point edge with 4:28 left.
- For the first time we got to see both Yi Jianlian and Charlie Villanueva play well in the same game. Yi missed a couple defensive assignments in the first before getting two fouls, clearing the way for Villanueva to score nine points in the opening half. As he has in each game of the win streak, CV gave the Bucks an offensive shot in the arm and looks to be getting increasingly confident. Yi, with his parents in the stands for the first time in Milwaukee, then came out and scored six points in the third, draining a couple jumpers and scoring on a pretty drive. Villanueva had another big three in the fourth and Yi, coming in after Bogut fouled out with 2:20 left, hit a couple free throws late to help seal it. Villanueva finished with 14/9 in 28 minutes while Yi contributed 12/6 on 4/6 fg in 22 minutes. I'm curious if LK tries to sneak the Yi/CV tandem onto the court more in the future.
- Mo Williams again filled up the stat sheet, scoring 18 along with nine dimes. At times the offense would get a little bogged down, Mo yelling for guys to set screens as the shot clock wasted away, but in general the results were very good. He's still developing a bit as a game manager, but even with some rough edges (four TOs) he's managing to get others involved. Many people seem so preoccupied with deriding Mo for not being a "pure" PG that they forget it's kind of convenient at times having a PG who can also score. Mo has now averaged 10 apg in the four game winning streak.
- Andrew Bynum justified all my pre-game raving by putting up 16/13 in just 26 minutes. The kid's going to be a ton; I'll predict an all-star appearance by 2009. Curiously, Phil Jackson chose to sit Bynum when Bogut fouled, rather than try to use Bynum's physicality against Yi.
- Bogut was saddled by foul trouble most of the night, but he managed to overcome his slow start and scored eight key points in the fourth and a couple big blocks as well. It was pretty encouraging to see the Bucks looking for Bogut both on the block as well as off penetration, and he responded when he was needed most. Bogut finished just behind Redd as the Bucks' +/- leader, finishing +12 compared to Redd's +13.
- The Bucks also got some valuable minutes from Jake Voskuhl of all people, who came in after Krystkowiak saw something he didn't like from Gadzuric. Voskuhl made his only fga but more importantly showed some veteran savvy, twice using the old pull-the-chair routine to draw travels and setting a couple nasty picks on Laker guards.
- Royal Ivey was solid after a big night yesterday in Cleveland, making both of his field goals and dishing out four assists. But I can't say he's very confidence-inspiring as a ball-handler.
- Nice ceremony at halftime for Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, as a new retired jersey was unveiled in his honor. Hubie Brown had a taped message for Kareem and Herb Kohl also spoke at the ceremony.
- Wins are so much more enjoyable when you've got a fair number of the opposing team's fans in the building. I hope you had a nice time, ubiquitous girl wearing a Kobe jersey.
- The Energee dance team is much better when they're not using basketballs as props in their routines.
- As far as in-game MC types, Rahny Taylor is pretty good. But it's kind of a joke that he's the only guy at the BC wearing an Yi jersey. Seriously, the whole story about Yi's late signing delaying the production of Yi jerseys and shirts is a joke...the guy signed three months ago. Get on it, NBA.
- Peak appears to be the first Chinese brand to have scorer's table advertising at the BC. The shoe brand signed Shane Battier to a shoe deal last year. Given the Yao effect has gotten Battier, Luis Scola and Steve Francis Chinese brand shoe deals, you'd expect one of the Bucks to take the plunge pretty soon.