Well, no better way to bounce back from a disappointing road trip than to come home and beat the league's best road team, and the Bucks did just that, pulling away to beat the Magic 100-86 at the BC. The Bucks led virtually the entire game, but twice in the second half they nearly folded before regaining their composure and closing out a very good (albeit all of a sudden struggling) Orlando team.
- About a month ago I started my Michael Redd double-double watch, and after more than three years we've finally seen it: not only did he notch 27/10, he also added nine assists for good measure, nearly racking up a triple double. This is the sort of play we saw from Redd during the five game winning streak and which we didn't see during the recent struggles.
- With a visiting contingent from Guangdong in the house, Yi Jianlian had his biggest first quarter as a Buck, scoring 10 on 4/4 fg. It seems like whenever Yi is playing for a Chinese audience he brings extra energy--witness his performances in Houston and Golden State. Krystkowiak eventually went small when Lewis started burying threes in the second half, but Yi had a very nice game, finishing with 18 points (7/11 fg) and seven rebounds. Hopefully Yi builds on this in the weeks to come.
- Howard (20/13) certainly put up bigger numbers than Bogut (11/9), but the Bucks' big man did enough to hold his own. Bogut helped the Bucks win the rebounding battle 48-38 and Howard didn't have an easy time getting his 20, missing more than half his shots (6/13) while also committing five turnovers. Bogut also drew three charges (I think it might have been four offensive fouls in total).
- It wound up being a pretty ugly game with a combined 39 turnovers and 75 free throws, but don't think Bucks fans are complaining. It's been a pretty miserable stretch for the Bucks, so winning at home against one of the East's best is a major boost with a tough road game in Boston up next.
- The Bucks led 32-20 after one, managing to push the ball a little without letting the pace get out of hand. Orlando certainly helped by missing some open looks as well.
- The Bucks led 53-40 at half, holding the Magic to 36% including 3/12 from deep. It was really only the second time all season we've seen such a dominant first half (the other being the Toronto game). Shooting 54% helped, as did dishing out 13 assists including five each from Mo and Redd. Redd put up a couple questionable shots but was playing both ends the way you'd love to see, scoring 14 along with six rebounds and those five helpers.
- The Magic scored the last four of the first half and then used a pair of threes to get within 53-48. The Bucks stabilized for a couple minutes, but then it was a steady diet of fouls and four straight possessions with turnovers that let the Magic off the hook. Both Mo and Bogut went to the bench with four fouls, but credit Charlie Bell and Jake Voskuhl, who filled in well as the Bucks immediately went on a 9-0 run. Usually the Bucks have been toast once the subs come in, but tonight Bell and Voskuhl did the job on both ends. Bell looks to be breaking out his slump, scoring 13, while Voskuhl continues to show the sort of savvy veteran play that convinced LK to bump Jake ahead of Gadzuric in the center rotation.
- The Bucks opened the fourth with one of their trademark droughts, taking 4:10 before they scored a point. In that span the Magic shaved the Bucks' 14-point lead to 75-73 on a flurry of threes from Lewis and Turkoglu. But Mo Williams drove and found Bogut for an easy dunk to break the drought, and the Bucks then extended the lead to eight on a Mo jumper and another Bogut layup. Crisis averted. For a team that has been blowing late leads, the Bucks showed good character hanging in against a very dangerous Magic squad.
- Bogut might lead the league in charges taken--he took another three tonight--but I'd bet Jake Voskuhl leads the league in drawing travels by pulling the chair out in the post. He pulled it off on Adonal Foyle in the second quarter, and has probably done it about five times so far this season.
- Turkoglu was called for a lane violation on a missed Yi free throw--the strange part being that it was the first of two free throws. Someone courtside audibly remarked "I've never seen that before." Stan Van Gundy was getting picked up on the mics all game long, so it might have been him.
- With less than two minutes left in the third and the Magic down double digits, Van Gundy brought in James Augustine to intentionally foul Dan Gadzuric, who had come on after Voskuhl joined Bogut with four fouls. The "hack-a-Dutchman" tactic (credit to Jim Paschke for the name) worked the first time, as Gadz missed both throws. He made a pair the next trip down the court, then missed a pair. Krystkowiak was getting visibly annoyed, even yelling "perfect offense" after the second foul. Krystkowiak took it one further the next Magic possession, when he had a giggling Charlie Villanueva return the favor by grabbing Howard at the three point line. Howard made both free throws, though Gadzuric answered with a pair of his own. Despite all the nonsense, the Bucks still led 75-61 after three. Of course, these teams have a history with intentional fouling--Terry Stotts used the strategy against Howard in a blowout loss in Orlando last season, and actually apologized to Dwight for the tactic.