Milwaukee center Andrew Bogut returns to trumpets and fanfare

Bulls Bucks Basketball

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.

Bulls Bucks Basketball“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.”

Bulls Bucks BasketballWith 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.

Milwaukee Bucks early 2000s dominate all-decade team

Bucks

By Jake McCormick

The last 10 years of Milwaukee Bucks basketball have followed a  success arc similar to former point guard Damon Stoudamire. When Stoudamire broke into the league as a Toronto Raptor, he won the Rookie of the Year award and averaged 20 points and nine assists in two and a half years in Canada. After a trade to Portland, Stoudamire’s role diminished and he never topped his career highs in assists, points, and rebounds again.

The 2000-01 Bucks won 52 games and came within one game of the NBA Finals, but the team has only managed one season above .500 (42-40, 2002-03) and two seasons at the Mason-Dixon line since then. Despite their best efforts, the Bucks made the playoffs in three years and fizzled out faster than a reality show contestant’s fame.

After two 50 loss seasons and a near miss with 48 last year, GM John Hammond and Scott Skiles have seemingly started to get back to the future of the decade’s early glory. But because of the Bucks’ recent 1-4 skid, bringing their current record to 8-7, I think it would be appropriate to relive the highs of the last 10 years through an honorary all-decade team. Hopefully, it helps Brandon Jennings and a close to fully healthy cast (Andrew Bogut comes back tonight, and Michael Redd and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute are just around the corner) take on three divisional opponents in the next four games.

Keep in mind, the 2000s have NOT been especially good to the Milwaukee Bucks. But if you’re reading this, you probably know that already.

Milwaukee Bucks All-Decade Team
Sam CassellSamCassell
It’s too early to put Brandon Jennings here, so the obvious choice is Cassell. He holds the fifth spot in total assists as a Buck and second in assists per game. I wonder if anyone still owns a Sam Cassell jersey?

Ray Allen
Allen was money for the Bucks in the early 2000s, plain and simple. He was the only reason (and a bit of K.G.) I was OK with watching the Boston Celtics buy a championship.

Glenn Robinson
One of the Big Three from 2000-01 and one of three easy choices to round out this list. Robinson is second in Bucks history in total points and first in defensive rebounds, although he surely wasn’t known for his defensive prowess.

Tim Thomas
Thomas was a budding player for his first two seasons in a Milwaukee uniform, and many players (Ray Allen, for one) have said that Thomas could’ve been the best player in the league if he applied himself. Milwaukee has relied more on guards than post players to carry the team, and Thomas is the closest thing to the four position that contributed for more than three years.

Andrew Bogut
Bogut has steadily increased his rebounding totals since his rookie year in 2005, and if healthy, can average close to 20 points and 10 rebounds every night. Bogut won’t be Dwight Howard anytime soon, but he has clearly been the best center in beer town over the past decade.

Bucks All-Decade Second Team
Mo Williams
Even though Williams’ time in Milwaukee was short lived, he spent two of his four years as a Buck averaging over 17 points and six assists per game. Williams’ is doing just fine as a Cleveland Cavalier and can attribute much of his development to Milwaukee.

BJBrandon Jennings
Jennings has only been around for a few games, but it’s clear he is taking the fast track to becoming a team leader and franchise cornerstone for many years. With Redd out, coach Scott Skiles has ran some double point guard rotations with Jennings and Luke Ridnour on the court together, so I figured this would be appropriate for the all-decade team.

Michael Redd
Redd was the only consistent scorer throughout the darkest days of the decade, and has averaged 20.4 ppg as a Buck. It has yet to be determined if Redd’s best days are behind him, but it’s hard to argue against a guy that dropped 57 points in a game to set a franchise single-game record.

Charlie Villanueva
I wish I didn’t pick a guy that played his best as a Buck in his contract year, but Villanueva is second in a very slim pool of choices. Averaging 16.2 points and 6.7 rebounds last year is definitely a respectable number for a role player.

Jamaal Magloire
If you can find a better argument for Dan Gadzuric, Joel Pryzbilla, or Scott Williams I would love to hear them. Magloire averaged a near double-double in 2005-06 and was a part of that below .500 playoff team. That’s all I got.