It wasn't as easy as it could have been, but a must win game was won. Richard Jefferson led the Bucks with 35 points, but it was truly a team effort on the offensive end as seven Bucks scored in double figures. Jamal Crawford (32 points on 20 shots, 15 pts in the final quarter) got hot late and helped the Warriors come back from a 13-point fourth quarter deficit to tie it at 104 with six minutes left, but the Bucks won the game by doing the same thing that got them a lead in the first place: hitting big shots and not making mistakes. The Bucks were better at the line down the stretch and also got huge threes from Ramon Sessions (15 pts, nine dimes, zero turnovers) and Charlie Villanueva (14 pts, seven rebs) to help seal it, moving back to within a half game of the Bulls for the final playoff spot.
- Richard Jefferson. RJ put up a season-high 35 on 10/17 fg and 13/16 from the line, consistently attacking a fairly soft Warriors team that was without its starting center Andris Biedrins. He's now averaging 30.3 ppg in his last three games, though all that scoring isn't leaving him much energy do to other things--he's averaged just 4.0 rpg and 1.3 apg in that stretch. Still, no real complaints here.
Luke Ridnour. Both PGs had solid nights, but let's give the nod to Ridnour for a stat-stuffing 20 minutes: 17 points (5/7 fg, 7/7 ft), five ast, four rebs, two steals, and three TOs.
- Keith Bogans. You could have easily picked Sessions (another solid game), Bell (some big shots throughout), or Villanueva (key scores and rebounds down the stretch), but Bogans was one of the few Bucks actually making an impact defensively. Aside from his five steals and game-high +13 rating, Bogans also managed to hit a couple threes and finished with 10 in 27 minutes. Too bad he's still possibly the most awkward open court guard this side of Bruce Bowen.
20. Golden State turned it over 20 times compared to just nine times for the Bucks, which was probably the difference on a night when both teams shot the ball well. With seven turnovers, Stephen Jackson turned it over almost as many times as the Bucks' entire roster.
- 9. The Bucks made 53% of their 17 attempts from deep, a pretty inspiring number for a team that couldn't punt it into Lake Michigan last night (1/14 vs. Chicago). Then again, the Bulls defend the perimeter much better than Golden State and with such a high pace there were plenty of open looks as the teams struggled to defend in transition.
49. The Bucks got a big night from the bench, primarily from Bell, Bogans, and Ridnour who combined to scored 43 of the Bucks' 49 bench points.
- Composure. Allowing the W's to go on a 15-2 fourth quarter run wasn't in Scott Skiles gameplan, but fortunately his team didn't fold with their playoff chances possibly on the line. Rather than settling for jumpers, the Bucks got aggressive with layups from Sessions, Mbah a Moute, and Jefferson in addition to six free throws from RJ and CV. That stretched the Bucks lead to five with just over two minutes remaining, at which point Sessions and Villanueva set each other up for back-to-back triples from the left side. Inside-outside...good times.
Balance. The Bucks don't have the depth to bomb away like this every night, but when things are working like this on offense it's tough to complain.
- Pressure. The Bucks don't defend straight-up very well, but creating turnovers continues to be a strength. The W's might have been a bit wasteful, but the Bucks created some of their own luck with 13 steals and a 32-14 edge on points off turnovers.
No defense. Yes, the W's can fill it up, but allowing them 57% eFG and a .519/.421/.789 shooting line isn't typical either. Part of it is just pace--like most teams, the Bucks don't defend as well when the tempo is high. And maybe the W's lax defense was just contagious. Fortunately, whatever energy the Bucks saved on defense they seemed to use on the other end.
- Foul trouble. The Bucks racked up 30 fouls for a second straight night, 25% above their season average of 24.1.
- Must win. Though their 16 remaining games include 10 home games, the road from here on out isn't easy per se: the Hornets, Magic (twice), Lakers and Celtics will all be coming to Milwaukee in the next month. The Bucks really don't have the luxury of losing games against struggling clubs like Golden State.