By Jake McCormick
Editor’s note: I’ll be updating The Sports Bank Twitter status from the Bradley Center on a regular basis, and I’ll have a reaction to this weekend’s games on Monday.
Milwaukee Bucks head coach Scott Skiles must be the best motivational speaker since Tony Robbins. For the third game in a row, the Bucks were trailing at halftime before finishing the game the way it should’ve been started against the winless New Jersey Nets.
Down 48-41 at the half, Milwaukee came out and rattled off a 15-0 run to start the third quarter. The highlight of the run came when rookie sensation Brandon Jennings picked off a soft pass from Chris Douglas-Roberts and finishing his first NBA dunk.
“It was like a gamble, I went in for the steal and wasn’t going to dunk at first,” Jennings said. “That’s probably all you’re going to get out of me this year.”
The Bucks held the Nets to 12 points on 23% shooting in the third, while making 57% of their own shots. Milwaukee is now 4-1 when trailing at halftime, and could’ve very easily been 5-0 if not for Dirk’s last second heroics Monday. Skiles said he isn’t content to sit on strong second halves, especially as the team gets into a regular NBA schedule and takes on tougher opponents.
“We’re trying to figure it out, trying to find a way to set a better tone at the beginning of the game,” Skiles said. “We’re easing our way into the game, and we need leadership out there.”
Part of the team’s ability to comeback in games can be attributed to a surprisingly deep bench, most notably a point guard that acts, leads, and plays like a starter. Luke Ridnour continued his strong play off the Bucks’ bench, scoring 17 points, four rebounds and three assists. It’ll be interesting to see what Skiles decides to do when Michael Redd comes back, because Ridnour and Jennings are making a case for shared floor time. Ridnour especially has been making his signature three dribbles and pull up jumpers from midrange with relative ease while helping Milwaukee fans forget all about the loss of Ramon Sessions.
“My whole approach is to try to come in and bring energy,” Ridnour said. “Whatever I can do, not just me but anybody else who comes off bench, tries to bring energy as much as we can.”
While Andrew Bogut had what can now be called a regular night (21 points, 11 rebounds, besting Brook “Shrek” Lopez), small forward Carlos Delfino chipped in 21 points, four rebounds and six assists of his own in his best game of the year.
With Luc Richard Mbah a Moute out with a leg injury, Delfino seized the opportunity and displayed a shooting touch from the outside that had to make Skiles a little more confident in the overall makeup of his team.
Milwaukee and its grinder defense heads into a match up with the low scoring Charlotte Bobcats. The Bucks could very well finish the homestand with a 5-1 record, which plays nicely into the first big road trip of the season starting Saturday. It’s still too early to think Milwaukee can keep shooting Ws every night, but the upcoming road trip and Michael Redd’s return should shed some light on where this team is headed this season and as an organization.