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Bucks 107, Clippers 89: Standing up for each other, standing up to cheer


Box Score

MILWAUKEE -- So it's late-March, and it's Clippers/Bucks. It's quarter past eight, and it's not a close game. It's the Bradley Center, and the roof is about to blow off.

And it's not even April's Fools Day.

This was a feel-good blowout. When Charlie Bell spurs a 10-0 first quarter run, when all 14,321 chant "An-drew Bo-gut" at once, when Brandon Jennings goes all Rajon Rondo with a fake around-the-back layup after sticking up for his teammate and getting a technical, when Dan Gadzuric throws in a turnaround bank-shot? Feels good.

The Bucks won for the 41st time, and it's just a number, but it's also just a game. And this franchise has lost more than they have won for five straight years, until tonight. And that is serious.

Some nights it is difficult to find the good players, this was just the opposite. Scott Skiles spread the minutes, and everyone performed, from Andrew Bogut to Luke Ridnour, from Charlie Bell to Jerry Stackhouse, from Brandon Jennings to Ersan Ilyasova, it was all good. And even on a night when John Salmons scored just nine points, he fit right in, he threw an alley-oop to Bogut for a one-handed jam, and he is a shooting guard who really works here.

Chris Kaman, Drew Gooden, and DeAndre Jordan were tough covers, but the Bucks forced turnovers and finished very well in transition. Milwaukee was balanced offensively, and passionate even while cruising to victory.

In the third quarter, Bogut and old friend Steve Blake got into a bit of a tiff following some rough play and tough picks. Jennings stepped in, and all three got technicals. That lit the crowd, which chanted "An-drew Bo-gut" louder than any other single chant this season, and lit the Bucks. Soon after, Jennings faked a showy around-the-back pass and went in for a layup for an 81-66 lead.

This home win was as easy as the loss in Los Angeles was hard to handle coming off six straight wins. Clearly, a lot can change in a week or two. Certainly, a lot has changed this year. And not much needs to change from tonight if the Bucks want to keep changing things next month.


Andrew Bogut. DeAndre Jordan entered the night as one of the premier dunkers in the NBA, with 71 slams on the season. And he doubled that number added four more in the first 20 minutes of this game, slipping behind Milwaukee's defense for eight easy points. By my count, all four of those first half dunks came with Bogut on the bench. He added another one late -- all five of his field goals were dunks -- again with Bogut on the bench. It's easy enough to find reasons why Bogut is so good defensively when he is in the game. But sometimes you find out just as much when he is not on the court. He's not the Most Valuable Player, but Bogut is top three in Defensive Player of the Year. And I bring this up on a night when he lowered his blocks per game total, with two.

Brandon Jennings. The SportsCenter highlights (obsolete reference?) will show him in the second half, in the scrum earning a technical and with the nifty Rajon-Rondo-fake-around-the-back layup. But the bulk of his box score line was made in the first half, which is precisely when the Bucks won the game.

Brandon was on point in every way, drilling threes, working the ball inside, breaking down the defense to free open teammates. He accrued 15/3/4 by halftime, and clearly didn't sit around satisfied in the second half, staying positively fiery and sticking up for his teammates on his way to a technical.

That's my teammate (Ilyasova), I'm going to protect my teammate. Don't run up on my teammate like that. I just had to tell him (Blake), you know, chill out, and make sure everything was alright.

Young Buck doesn't play or act like a 169-pound, 20 year-old rookie. "Rookie." It's almost as though this isn't his first year of professional ball and facing adversity...

Ersan Ilyasova. Turkish Thunder has been prone to follow good games with bad ones this season. Points aren't a great way to represent his production on the court, but still: He's gone from 20 points to 5, from 24 to 6, from 25 to 5, from 16 to 0, and so on. So it was nice to see him string a couple of high-effort, highly productive games in a row.

And this time he got the numbers: A game-high 20 points and eight rebounds for Ersan, who was money just about everywhere except beyond the arc, where he shot 1-5. Skiles, post-game:

Even though he is ultimately going to be a much better three point shooter percentage-wise than he is -- he's below 35 percent, I think at some point he'll be a 37, 38 percent three point shooter -- still teams respect him out there, so he provides spacing. But there are an awful lot of big players who hang around the three point line who don't mix it up at all, he does both.

Indeed, I can't readily think of another tall, three-point shooter with as fierce of an inside presence.


9. The Bucks pulled in nine offensive rebounds in the first matchup in Los Angeles. They had the same number in the first quarter of this game. Both teams did serious offensive glasswork; the Clippers with 20 offensive rebounds overall and the Bucks with 17.

27-7. Milwaukee passed the ball a lot faster than the L.A. reacted, unlike the first matchup. The Bucks accumulated 27 assists to just seven turnovers. The Clippers went for 16/13.

37. Charlie Bell played and played well, and played a lot. He easily led the team with 37 minutes. Bell has gone from every-night starter to frequent DNP-CD back to starter and perhaps back to DNP again soon. And he's taken it all in stride.


Back in Stack's house.  After shooting above 43.0 % from the field once in the past 11 games, Jerry Stackhouse shot 7-10 and 2-4 from outside for 16 points.

Transition/perimeter defense. This was one of the real contrasts in the game.

The Bucks racked up 17 fastbreak points on 8-9 shooting, whereas the Clippers had two fastbreak points on 1-6 shooting.

And the Clippers guarded the three point line as though it was a three foot wide and three foot deep moat, giving the Bucks all sorts of time and space to shoot from outside, particularly early in the game. Given the way Milwaukee has shot from deep lately, that might not have been such a problem, but Milwaukee got hot in the second quarter, making 4-5 mostly open threes.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles guards didn't do much of anything. Before the game, Skiles said that anyone can play defense.

We feel like anyone can come in and play defense for us... Anybody can play in our system as long as they are willing to do it... I hear some coaches say that if you want be a good defensive team you have to get defensive players. I think other coaches have proved that wrong so many times it's laughable.

Skiles complimented Charlie Bell's defense after the game, and Brandon Jennings more than held his own out there as well. The starting backcourt of Steve Blake and Eric Gordon combined to shoot 5-18 for 15 points.

"An-drew Bo-gut." The Bradley Center absolutely roared "An-drew Bo-gut" in unison for more than a full minute as the officials convened to sort out the mini-melee in the third quarter involving Bogut (technical), Jennings (technical), Blake (technical), and Outlaw (no technical?). It's been frustrating this season to hear Squad 6 chant alone, but each and every one of the 14,321 fans got into the chants, both "An-drew Bo-gut" and "Fear the Deer." The atmosphere at that point could have made plenty of playoff crowds around the country blush.

Seven rebounds, two blocks, and a steal in the third quarter for 'Drew, just in case you weren't sure they had something and someone worth cheering about. After the game, a proud Bogut:

I haven't seen the place rocking like that for a while where the whole crowd got involved. And hopefully we can encourage the rest of our fans out there, when Squad Six is chanting, to feel free to join in. It brings a great atmosphere.


Not on ESPN. The real Bucks stood up for this one, not the outfit that ESPN televised in Los Angeles on St. Patrick's Day. Shucks.

Next. Milwaukee rightfully cannot celebrate a win over the Clip-Show for long -- they travel to Cleveland and face the NBA's best team and best home team (30-4) tomorrow. Then they have the home heavyweight Bobcats (27-9) on Friday before taking on the scorching hot Suns (seven wins in a row) on Saturday.