Bucks get 30th win: When two teams playing their 4th games in five nights meet anything can happen. It almost did when the Bucks and Nellie’s Warriors met at the BC Saturday night, as once again the Bucks let an opposing 3-point shooter catch fire in the 4th quarter (shades of the loss to New Jersey and Jarvis Hayes and Keyon Dooling Tuesday).
But against the Warriors, when Jamal Crawford poured in 10 pts from downtown to push a 104-104 tie midway through the 4th, the Bucks found shooters of their own, forced some misses and held the Warriors off, 127-120.
“We can’t sit there and give our fans cardiac arrest,” said Charlie Bell.
Well, you could Charlie, though it would be polite not to do it sitting down. Interesting choice of words, though, because — unlike in the loss to the Nets — Charlie was not sitting down Saturday. This time, Skiles put his better defenders on the court in the game’s final minutes and Charlie played out the 4th.
Crawford got hot against Luke Ridnour (including a 4-point play), but Skiles wasn’t about to employ the Ramon Sessions-Ridnour backcourt down the stretch (unlike the Nets game). He subbed Sessions in for Ridnour after Crawford’s 3rd straight three over Frodo, and went into the final six minutes with Charlie and Ramon on the floor with Richard Jefferson, Luc Mbah a Moute and Charlie Villanueva.
Against New Jersey (sorry to keep bringing that up), Skiles kept Bell and Mbah a Moute on the bench in the final five minutes as the Nets came back from 8 down to grab the lead. Against the Warriors, when Mbah a Moute fouled out with 3-1/2 minutes left, Skiles went with another defender, Keith Bogans, likewise on the bench during crunchtime of the New Jersey game.
The defenders were good enough when it mattered. With the game on the line, Crawford (15 pts, 3 assists in the 4th) missed a key three, the Bucks forced a turnover and took control of the game. Corey Maggette airballed the Warriors last gasp with 15 seconds to play. THEN Skiles went with Ridnour to shoot free throws – but subbed Bogans back in to play D when the Warriors had the ball.
In a game in which the Bucks desperately needed a win, RJ came up big with a good shooting night, leading the Bucks scoring with 34 pts. Bell played 38 minutes and scored 16 off the bench, more evidence that the Bucks need strong games from Bell to win, and usually win they get one. Here’s the boxscore.
Now about that New Jersey game. … (sorry again, coach).
Nets, Bulls and Sixers were idle – so the Bucks moved up to within 1/2 game of the 8th place Bulls, who play the Heat and Magic in Florida early next week.
Charlotte keeps winning: The Bobcats beat the Knicks in New York 114-105 for their 6th straight win, moving ahead of the Nets into 9th place — just 1/2 game behind the Bucks. The ‘Cats winning streak is the longest in franchise history, and this is the first playoff race in franchise history.
In Larry Brown‘s first year as head coach, new additions Raja Bell and Boris Diaw (acquired from Phoenix) have gelled with PG Raymond Felton, SF Gerald Wallace and center Emeka Okafor to form a solid, athletic starting 5. Wallace had 23 pts, 13 rebs vs. the Knicks.
Vladimir Radmanovic, a productive bomber on Ray Allen’s Supersonics, was toiling away on the Lakers bench until last month when the ‘Cats traded Gonzaga bust Adam Morrison and Shannon Brown for him. Radman leads a short ‘Cats bench brigade that includes rookie PG D.J. Augustin and center DeSagana Diop. Diop was acquired from Dallas this season for shooter Matt Carroll. Whew, that’s a lot of moving and shaking to keep straight, and there were a couple of other no names that I’m ommitting who were passed along in those deals, too.
How good would Bell and Diaw look in a Bucks uniforms? They arrived in Charlotte from Phoenix via an early December trade for expensive shooting guard Jason Richardson. Meanwhile, the Bucks’ expensive shooting guard is now an injured expensive shooting guard. These potential opportunities to trade Michael Redd while he was healthy just kept passing GM John Hammond by. …
‘Cats head to Texas to play San Antonio Tuesday, then head home for a Friday game vs. Houston. Brown has tightened up his rotation, and today sent rookies Sean Singletary and center Alexis Ajinca to the D-League.
The Bulls are in Florida this week to play the Heat and the Magic, then travel to Philly. They’re in a grueling stretch, and they have not played the rest of the league as well as they’ve played the Bucks and their old coach, Scott Skiles. Of course, I’m referring to Bucks killers Ben Gordon and Kirk Hinrich. Following their 3-game road trip this week, the Bulls play the Hornets, Celtics and Lakers.
Reclaiming 8th place: Given the Bulls and Bobcats schedules this week, the Bucks chances of reclaiming 8th place in the East with a victory against the Knicks Tuesday are good. The Knicks game is the 2nd of a six-game home stand for the Bucks, and the first game of a stretch in which they play only six games in 18 days.