What, you thought the Bucks were going to lose?
In fairness, you wouldn't have been crazy to think that. Milwaukee lacked their recent crispness for long stretches, letting the 13-35 Los Angeles Lakers -- whose most notable starter tonight was Wayne Ellington -- hang around and actually have their way with them for much of the first half and the majority of the fourth. The Lakers had 44 points in the paint and dominated the glass, outrebounding Milwaukee 53-35, including 18 offensive rebounds.
Playing without Zaza Pachulia, Ersan Ilyasova and Kenyon Martin up front, the depleted Bucks did not have a solution for stopping Carlos Boozer (28p/9r), Ed Davis (7p/20r), and Ellington (19p). And with just seven seconds left, it appeared that the Bucks' problems were going to be too much to overcome.
Then O.J. Mayo came curling around two screens and was handed the ball near the baseline with two Lakers defenders swarming him. Without much hesitation, Mayo rose up, fired away, and buried a game-tying three with 0.5 seconds left. The result would grant Milwaukee new life, and they did not waste it. After hitting a series of big jumpers late in regulation, Brandon Knight hit a few more in overtime as the Bucks pulled away early in the extra period and held on late to escape with a 113-105 victory, their fifth straight win.
-- Mayo was one of four Bucks to score over 20 points tonight. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way with a career-high 25p/6r/2b (on 10-14 shooting!), while Brandon Knight -- who returned from a quad injury that sidelined him in Toronto and didn't even make a shot in the first half -- followed with an impressive line of 24p/8a/7r. Khris Middleton joined Mayo with 21. It was the first time the Bucks have had four 20-point scorers in just under six years. Who were those four?
Bucks had 4 players score 20+ tonight for the first time since 2/9/09 (Villanueva-25, Sessions-26, Jefferson-25 and Bell-21)— Bucks PR (@BucksPR) February 5, 2015
-- It's easy to feel good about the team's progress when everything is clicking and cool dunks and passes are littering the nightly highlight reels, but it's even more encouraging when a young team is already finding out how to win when they don't have their A or B material. Yes, this Lakers team is bad, but that shouldn't take away from what went down tonight.
-- After struggling to get anything going in the first three quarters, Knight couldn't have been much better down the stretch and in overtime. He started by hitting a tough baseline step-back with 2:13 left and then kept the Bucks alive by burying a crucial three with 31 seconds left, just a few seconds after Jeremy Lin had put L.A. up a commanding six points with 34 seconds left. Knight then started the OT with another three and a driving layup before adding his fourth three after L.A. had trimmed the Bucks' lead to one. All told, he scored 17 of his 24 points in the final 7:13 of the game. Damn.
-- Speaking of grinding out victories, Jared Dudley wants Bucks fans to start using a new phrase.
Dudley: "We've got a new nickname; the Milwaukee Grinders. Don't fear the deer, fear the grind."— Andrew Wagner (@ByAndrewWagner) February 5, 2015
(Note: This phrase will also be used by me when I get startled by the sound of making coffee).
-- Though he struggled from three tonight, Middleton still managed to shoot over 50 percent for the game (7-13). Through his last seven games, Middleton has averaged 17/5 on 60 percent shooting and 56 percent shooting from deep. With the slew of injuries the Bucks have had in their frontcourt, someone needed to step up. Middleton has and then some. Kudos to you, Khash Money Middleton.
-- Giannis' career-high night had a little bit of everything. It began with a stretchy dunk, featured a couple of jump shots, and of course was highlighted by another moment worth capturing.
Jason Kidd said after the game that he didn't think Giannis 25-point high total would last for very long. If he continues to sprinkle in new areas of his game that he's developed, it's hard to disagree with Kidd.
The Bucks take their winning streak to a Dwight Howard-less Houston Friday night before coming back home to host the Celtics on Saturday. Will a new winning streak be started by then or will be losing our minds over seven in a row?