Break up the backup-Bucks. These guys are fun to watch. And they can play, too.
Milwaukee needed overtime and an unforeseen, brilliant offensive performance to climb to 121 points against the Pistons on Saturday.
Tonight? They cruised to 124 in regulation. You probably wouldn't have believed me if I told you a couple weeks, days, or hours ago a little story about Eddie Gill, Joe Alexander, and Keith Bogans playing fourth quarter minutes tonight against the Rockets. Especially the part about them dribbling out the clock in a blowout win. Or that you can find that 124-112 victory in the nonfiction aisle of Bucks history.
That's 245 points in two games, and not a bad beginning to the post-Redd/Bogut/Ridnour epoch.
The Bucks were a can't-miss offensive show all night, connecting on most of their shots from the field (47-89) and half of their threes (10-20). Houston will have an uneasy sleep dreaming of a Charlie Bell jumper here, and Richard Jefferson three there, a Ramon Sessions free throw here, and Charlie Villanueva dunk there.
All of that, and in some respects the offense wasn't even the most shocking, smashing success. Team defense smothered Yao Ming (2-8, 9 points) and perennial Buck-killer Tracy McGrady (1-9, 3 points) into muted evenings at the Bradley Center. Luis Scola (20 points) was the only starting Rocket to score in double figures.
Ramon Sessions. The final stat line wasn't quite as elegant as versus Detroit, but Sessions (26/4/7 and four steals) dominated his space on the court once again. And he influences quite a lot of space on the court; whether he's knifing through the lane in a blink, delivering prime outlet passes, or skying for rebounds, Sessions is eternal energy. Badly outplaying Rafer Alston, the Nevada product is looking rather right starting at point guard in Milwaukee so far. As usual, aggressiveness paid off handsomely for Sessions, who has made an amazing 37 free throws in the last three games.
Richard Jefferson. Sometimes, it's easy to forget that RJ was a top ten scorer in the NBA last season. More than a premier scorer, Jefferson was a model of consistency, playing all 82 games, and averaging at least 20 points in each of the season's six months. Richard (25/4/4) can still score, and tonight he showed how by burning up the basket, making shots that hit a lot of net and barely any rim. Here's to more scores.
Charlie Villanueva. The rather recent debate about whether Villanueva (25/8/4) is a starter in the NBA is a thing of the past. Offering early offense, Charlie swung in Milwaukee's first eight points to start the game. And he ignited the offense in the second half too, scoring 13 third quarter points as the Bucks extended a four point halftime lead to a 22-point difference going into the final quarter.
2. The Bucks scored
thousands upon millions of124 points, and two of their starters didn't get on the board. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Francisco Elson shot a combined 0-7 from the field for zilch points. And it's all good.
2. No Andrew Bogut, no problem? I wouldn't say that, and neither should you, but Yao Ming was a virtual non-factor, as the Bucks sent Dan Gadzuric, Francisco Elson, and Malik Allen to effectively pester Yao, and hold the Chinese giant to 2-8 shooting.
- 2. Two is a magic number tonight. After committing five turnovers in the first quarter, the Bucks picked up just two more the rest of the way.
- Backup-Bucks. Who honestly thought, after losing Redd, Bogut, and Ridnour, that the Bucks would take part in high-scoring games? I should clarify. Allow a lot of points? Maybe. Score a lot of points? Not so much. Yet even facing a pair of really good defensive clubs (Detroit 11th and Houston 5th in efficiency entering the games) hasn't stopped the backup-Bucks from blazing into triple digits. Every cog in the Milwaukee wheel was nearly flawless offensively for the final three and a half quarters. Blinded by unsafely bright offensive goodness around 9:00 pm central, I can't decide whether the spacing, balance, shooting (52.8 % from the field), or passing (five players had 4+ assists) was the best part. Kudos also to Scott Skiles, for continuing to draw up some killer plays out of timeouts, and for generally bringing this group together so quickly, so seamlessly.
- Streak snapped. Houston's four year reign over Milwaukee is over as the Bucks snapped an eight-game losing streak to the Rockets in high fashion. In higher fashion than Damon Jones' fashion.
Killer B's off the bench. Keep up this type of work, Charlie Bell and Keith Bogans, and you'll be in danger of losing your defensive reputations. Not for a lack of defensive intensity either. On the contrary, they defended just fine. But the offense was equally pleasant and surprising tonight. Bell shot his way to seven straight makes to open the game, and open up a lead for the Bucks. And from the things we've learned file: When it comes to points, Bogans > Yao + T-Mac = Rockets are in trouble.
Carl's Land-ry. Milwaukee native Carl Landry was right at home again with 16/7 after a 15/5 showing off the bench in the first matchup. Nevertheless, it's a very good thing that those Villanueva/Landry rumors were just rumors. Yeah, nothing Bucks-bad tonight.
- Houston, you have a problem. The Rockets have great post players, great guards, great role players, great offensive players, great defensive players, and great problems. In form, Houston is one of the few teams with a chance to challenge L.A. in the West, but too often they have a confused look, rather than one of a champion.
- Early off-erings. Things went downhill for the Rockets pretty early. Specifically, after McGrady's opening minutes reverse dunk attempt. Ron Artest, offering laughs from the bench, rightly found the rim rejection funny. Though that (and tonight in general) might not work wonders for the chemistry problems.