By Jake McCormick
For the second time this season, the Chicago Bulls-Milwaukee Bucks matchup came down to a last second shot. Thankfully for the home court Bucks, that shot was taken by Brad Miller of the Bulls, who’s attempt off a Derrick Rose drive clanked off the right-front of the rim to give Milwaukee a 99-97 win.
Rose’s game mirrored that of Brandon Jennings’ during his early season hot streak, as the Chicago point guard scored the majority of his points in the second half to bring Chicago back from the dead. However, his unselfish pass to Miller was the first question on reporter’s minds, which is often the price to pay for a star player’s faith in his teammates at the end of a tight game.
“It’s part of being point guard, (Miller) was open; that’s why I did it,” Rose said. (Concerning his late scoring) “I usually get a feel for the game then step it up. I just have to step it up in the beginning.”
Of course, any victory after a rough four-game losing streak is going to be embraced with a sigh of relief and a clean slate. The biggest story of the night before the start of the game was the rematch of two of the Eastern Conference’s best young point guards in Brandon Jennings and Rose. After it was all said and done, the return of Andrew Bogut became the clearly favored talking point.
Bogut was announced as a starter so late that Dan Gadzuric received the opening introductions over the Bradley Center loudspeaker. His absence and return can be likened to the Crystal Pepsi fad of the early 1990s; people didn’t realize the little things they loved about Pepsi (like its color) until they were taken away. Now clear cola is celebrated as if it were a walk of shame, and Bogut’s presence on both sides of the ball should help the team understand just how long of a walk that can be.
“It really makes things easier for everybody as far as playing inside-out and not having to create shots for each other,” Charlie Bell said. “With him you throw inside, spot up, and being great passer he finds open guys and gets open looks.”
The Aussie’s 22 points, 15 rebounds, three steals and four blocks all led the Bucks, with 14 of his points coming in the second quarter. Two of his four blocks were made late in the fourth quarter, and all came on drives through the lane.
“Both times I was there early,” Bogut said. “I knew (Luol Deng) was going to try and dunk it with two hands and the Rose block was a big one too.”
But his true impact on the game can be summed up by his defensive awareness around the basket in the third quarter. Bogut met Bull forward John Salmons on the left side of the lane and forced a pass to Rose cutting toward the basket. Bogut shifted his feet fast enough to cut the point guard off and prevent an easy bucket. The fact that he fought for the rebound after a short tip drill was just icing on the cake.
“I was confident going into the game,” Bogut said. “The coaches emphasized (confidence) going into season. They want me to shoot the ball much more.”
With virtually unknown Turkish forward Ersan Ilyasova coming on strong as of late (He contributed early and fouled out with 13 points and eight rebounds), Bogut’s return allows much more flexibility in the Bucks’ offense, which is just the way Brandon Jennings likes it.
“I actually like it when him and Ersan are in game,” Jennings said. “Both rebound and Ersan is a shooter, so if you trap Boges, you’re leaving Ersan open. We have so many weapons out there at one time it just makes everything easier.”
The Bucks will take their 9-7 record to Washington D.C. Wednesday before returning home for another key divisional matchup against the Central-leading Cleveland Cavaliers.