Chronicling John Salmons’ Bradley Center debut as a Milwaukee Bucks

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By Jake McCormick

After two games in a Bucks uniform, John Salmons is quickly living up to his end of the deal that sent him up I-94 to Milwaukee in exchange for Hakim Warrick and Joe Alexander. It’s hard not to get excited about a trading deadline deal that quickly pays dividends for a Bucks team aching to taste sustained success, especially since Salmons’ strengths (aggressive rim game, ability to work the ball inside out) have been Milwaukee’s weaknesses all season.

There’s no doubt the Bucks’ 93-88 win over the Charlotte Bobcats was a big one that brings them within a game of Charlotte for a playoff spot. But with 28 games left, coach Scott Skiles was very quick to point out that the team is in no place to consider themselves of a “playoff caliber” and still has a lot of work to do to get to that stage in the season.

Salmons and Brandon Jennings had nearly identical stat lines, and Jennings already looks comfortable playing with the combo guard. Whatever awaits the Bucks over the next 28 games, it’ll be a little easier to endure thanks to Salmons’ arrival. And if he continues to shoot anywhere close to his 2010 clip (46% fg, 46% 3pt), the rest of the NBA season in Milwaukee will stay interesting.

Judging by last night’s Bradley Center reaction to Salmons, he’s going to enjoy playing an integral part in the Bucks’ future success:

First quarter
12:00: Michael Jordan is NOT in the building for this one. That means the girl who only knows him from Space Jam will be inevitably disappointed.

9:30: If only we had a combo two/three guard that could measure up to Stephen “Hannibal Lecter” Jackson better than the 6’3″ Charlie Bell. Totally missed out on that at the trading deadline…Oh wait…

7:42: Still no sign of the Salmon man. Nazr Mohammed gets a flagrant 1 foul for basically clothes-lining Brandon Jennings on his way to the basket. Whenever Jennings gets contact, he always looks like he gets his bell rung like an undersized running back. He always pops right back up though.

6:17: It’s Bango’s birthday apparently, which obviously means that a slew of professional mascots take time out of their day to ride sleds down the stairs leading to the court. At least if they crash there’s some padding around them.

6:15: Salmons checks into the game and received a “warm Milwaukee welcome.” Say what you want about the state of basketball in Milwaukee, but the fans and city definitely want to make newcomers feel like they’re wanted; as opposed to the traditional Philly greeting of an alkaline front of double As, followed by D’s if you don’t meet their expectations.

4:57: Salmons definitely has a little bit of a Greg Jennings look to him. His strengths (getting to the line, jump shooting) are definitely on par with the Bucks’ weaknesses. He’ll get his opportunities to score nightly and should add some more pop to the Bucks’ lethargically inconsistent offense.

4:14: The Energee dance team is ready to give Bango his birthday lap dance…wait, I guess it’s a PG-rated skimpy uniform dance.

3:17: Salmons raindrops a wide open three, then fouls about three seconds later. He’ll fit in quite nicely.

1:40: Salmons drives under the basket and dishes out to Stackhouse for a three. This could be the start of something good, although I feel like I’m still on a “new relationship” high. No doubt there’s some flaws in there somewhere.

Second quarter
11:35: In other trading deadline news, Tracy McGrady has 24 points halfway through the third quarter in his first start as a New York Knick. Sign this guy to a max deal already! New York’s made dumber moves over the past 10 years.

10:35: Thanks to Luke Ridnour’s 3 fouls, Royal Ivey gets a special welcoming announcement. I’d bet he plays more minutes in this game than the rest of the season combined.

9:25: After an “Oh my God” from Bucksketball writer Jeremy Schmidt, Ivey hits his first basket in a 2009-10 Bucks uniform.

7:17: Salmons makes his second basket of the night. The Bucks are going shot for shot with Charlotte, who’s offense looks deader than Al Haig. Too soon?

7:17: The Benny Hill running around theme is playing during a Wendy’s promotion. Would it be too much to ask for the Bucks to play that song as Jennings runs the offense?

5:58: Salmons notches his second dish out under the basket as Carlos Delfino hits a clear three. After a game and a half as a Buck, Salmons definitely is showing what he can add to the Milwaukee game.

5:53: With another three, Salmons has officially won over the Bradley Center faithful. That’s what happens when you hit open shots, drive and dish, and play adequate defense, thus adding a new dimension to the Bucks’ offense.

4:08: Salmons notches his fourth assist to Jennings for another trey. Again, that whole “added dimension” cliche applies here and will probably come from Scott Skiles mouth in some variation multiple times in the psot-game presser.

3:15: Judging by the television close ups, Salmons sweats down his Anthrax beard like a leaky faucet.

2:50: Free pizza makes even the most masculine man scream like a 10-year-old at a Justin Bieber concert. After getting passed over for an actual 10-year-old, most of the guys here look like they were just told Bieber wasn’t going to do his set. Funny how male priorities line up sometimes.

Halftime: One slight shot T-shirt hit the Bucks blimp, while another clanked off the upper deck ticker scoreboard. Sadly, it was more entertaining than the majority of the halftime shows at the Bradley Center.

Third quarter
10:01: New NBA rule: You can only travel if you’re driving to the basket. Any other stutter or baby steps are grounds for an automatic turnover.

9:24: I believe in Bogut’s ability to be consistent within six feet like I believe Channing Tatum is a quality actor that doesn’t look a few fries short of a Happy Meal.

7:57: Nazr Mohammed has got a look on his face like he’s trying really hard to squeeze out a fart but can’t really do it. Hopefully he doesn’t pull an oblique.

5:27: Although Jennings just hit his third three, the Bucks have cooled a bit in the third. Thankfully, the Bobcats have stayed Outkast-level ice cold.

2:45: It’s hard not to love the “Jer-REE! Jer-REE! Jer-REE!” Squad 6 chants for Stackhouse.

Would you piss this man off?

:12: It’s hard to believe the Stephen Jackson that I’m convinced would eat a liver with some fava beans and a bottle of Chianti can flat out ball. He’s very underrated as a player and entertainer. Get this guy a reality show!

:00: I guess I never noticed this before, but Ersan Ilyasova’s three point shot has more hangtime than a Jason Kapinos punt. That’s not much in football terms, but a four second basketball rainbow is pretty impressive, if he doesn’t airball it.

Fourth quarter
10:12: Salmons misses what seems like his first shot since the second quarter. The Bucks are slowly giving this game to the Bobcats, led by Hannibal.

7:33: Salmons drives and puts the Bucks up eight. If they’re going to even sniff the playoffs, closing out games against good teams needs to begin…now.

7:14: Has anyone outside of Milwaukee noticed how good Andrew Bogut is at blocking shots, especially in big situations? He has 28 blocks in his last 10 games.

6:38: BOGUT IS A BLOCK MACHINE! Five blocks two nights in a row for the Awesome Aussie. His defensive presence has made up for his shooting inconsistencies all year.

5:56: John Salmons and Brandon Jennings have bizarro stat sheets for the night: (Salmons 17 pts/4 rb/7 a; Jennings 18 pts/7 rbs/4 a). Not that I’m complaining by any means, unless they lose of course.

2:57: Me: “I’m wary of the cheerleaders doing the T-shirt toss.” 10 seconds later, one falls directly behind me and another goes about 10 feet after a rainbow of about 30 feet. Basketball is a dangerous spectator sport sometimes.

2:00: Up three, the Bucks find it necessary to chuck up 25-footers instead of working the ball inside for a high percentage two. You gotta actually stab them with the dagger before you decide to twist it, boys.

:38.6: Gerald Wallace hands the Bucks a gorgeous gift in the form of a loose ball foul and Carlos Delfino proceeds to return half of it by making one of two free throws.

:34: John Salmons makes his biggest move of the night with a steal and subsequent Charlotte foul. Sure he was 1-8 in the second half, but who’s counting when you do something to seal a game?

Game two of John Salmons’ career as a Milwaukee Buck was a success. Now, about those remaining 28 significant games…

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