Windy City Road Trip
December 11, 2013
By Alex Boeder
More like Win-D city. Right?
You see, because the Bucks won, and they won because they played defense, and so the other team didn’t score enough points, and Chicago’s nickname is the Windy City, and… okay. I am sorry. Sort of sorry. I am not sorry. This is what I came up with on the drive back from Chicago. It was a quick drive. The car that I was in, that I was driving, went very fast. Maybe because I wanted to get back to my apartment to write a story, maybe because I wanted to read other stories.
After all, the Bucks have not been throwing us a lot of victory celebrations recently. And they certainly do not win so often in Chicago. Wait, they do? Well, maybe that will make one of my Notes From Chicago :
Three straight wins for Bucks here in Chicago/Milwaukee South.— Alex Boeder (@alexboeder) December 11, 2013
The 78-74 win on Tuesday night makes it three straight for the Bucks over the Bulls at the United Center. They swept the season series last year in Chicago (highlighted by a 27-point comeback win) and started off this season right. Since the start of last season, the Bulls at home are 0-3 against the Bucks and 30-17 against everyone else. And, the Bulls have beaten the Bucks six straight times in Milwaukee. None of this makes sense. Fortunately (?), these two play again on Friday in Milwaukee.
Speaking of some weird Bucks/Bulls trends… both teams now have the exact same .518 all-time franchise winning percentage. Combined, these teams have played 7,487 regular season games. And they are tied (regular season, that is). Thanks to the Milwaukee win.
About the actual game. Which I hope you watched. Because there were a couple sequences that you might not see again. Well, except right now, in the highlight below.
First: Bucks up 72-66, with 4:56 to play. Ekpe Udoh blocks Carlos Boozer. Brandon Knight comes down and misses a drive attempt. Udoh gets the board. Bucks reset. Mayo misses drive attempt. Udoh gets the board. Bucks reset. Knight misses a jumper. Udoh gets the board. At this point, approximately 17,582 of the 21,303 Bulls fans are booing. Bucks reset. Middleton misses a jumper. Hinrich finally gets the rebound, one minute and 21 seconds later. Loud sarcastic cheers from the home team ensue as the Bulls retrieve the ball with 3:25 to go. Good times.
Of course, the really fun thing (in retrospect) about Udoh’s four rebounds in a minute is that he had just one rebound total in his first 16 minutes.
Henson from 22
I hope you watched this one live. I am not sure why John Henson was shooting a turn-around fade-away jumper to beat the shot clock and secure the win… but it definitely happened. Shot of the year for the Bucks, so far (right?). He entered tonight 2-7 from that range on the court, and none of those were defended so closely or fading away or at the shot clock buzzer or... anything like this. After the swish, Henson smiled down the court.
In a zone
This was the best defensive performance of the season by the Bucks. Their previous opponent scoring low was 85. The Bulls scored 72. Yes, Chicago was sans Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, and Jimmy Butler. And the Bulls entered the game ranked 25th in offensive efficiency. Still… 72 points. (And without Larry Sanders. Zaza Pachulia, and company.)
Other than Mike Dunleavy doing Mike Dunleavy Things (Giannis now knows what this means) in the second quarter when he scored an absurd 18 points, the Bucks flustered the Bulls all evening. And an active, alert, principled zone defense played a big part, particularly in the second half when the Bucks held the Bulls to 32 points.
Dunleavy said it himself (as told by Charles Gardner, whom I sat next to during the game): "They came out with a zone and we just couldn't beat it… We got a little hesitant; they got some confidence. We were outscored down the stretch in the fourth (quarter), but that (zone) was the difference."
Thank you, John Henson
The anchor of the zone defense – and of most everything else – was Henson. He blocked a season-high six shots, he scored a season-high 25 points… and he was straight-up the best player on the floor from the opening moments of the game, when he rolled in for an emphatic dunk to give the Bucks a 2-0 lead. So, thank you, John Henson for continuing to play so well after I wrote an article called The Rise of Henson a couple weeks ago.
After the game – keep in mind this was my first game ever at the United Center – I was finding my way off the court and into the tunnel, when I heard someone behind me yell: Look out! Someone said that because Henson was running off the court right behind me at that moment. So, thank you, John Henson for doing everything right in Chicago, including changing course in order to kindly not run me over.
Tradition. RT @alexboeder: How to celebrate a win in Chicago: 14 pizzas from Lou Malnati’s in Milwaukee locker room after game.— Nick Monroe (@nmonroe) December 11, 2013
In the Milwaukee locker room following the game, you could find the expected: winter coats, red and black, reporters gathering around Henson.
But mostly, you found Lou Malnati’s pizza. At least 14 Lou Malnati’s pizzas. Turns out, this is a post-game Bucks tradition after beating the Bulls in Chicago. Yes, beating the Bulls in Chicago, which is becoming something of a tradition, in itself.
Writing and the Bucks. Two of my passions. So it is good to be here. I have reported on media row for just about every Bucks home game since 2009. I started writing for the Bucks in 2012. Before that, I co-founded and wrote for BrewHoop. I have written for the Milwaukee Brewers, SB Nation, ESPN Milwaukee, Slam Online, and so on. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @alexboeder or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.