6th Fan Blogger Recap: Feb. 23 vs Atlanta
Any game is obviously going to be a big deal when you are welcoming a former Wisconsin Badger into the BMO. Not to mention that the team was wearing throw back unis – speaking of which I was half expecting Tim Thomas to show up, double head bands and all, to reign threes down on Atlanta. Much to my dismay, I would have to settle for a Monta Ellis Bobblehead. With the Hawks in town (currently the 6th seed in the east), this was going to be intense in any decade. I can only assume the near capacity crowd was here to see to see the return of the sweet passes of big man Zaza Pachuliai. Did I mention that we have a new 6th man?
Speaking of that new player, he entered the game with a little over six minutes to play in the first quarter and received what could be his first standing ovation in Milwaukee. I was curious to see what’ll happen when he toes the free throw line. If anything he was supposed to help ease the team’s shooting percentage, or if you’re nerdy like me, true shooting percentage. But of course, he was going to start the game 0-1 and the Bucks were going to be shooting 43% vs. the Hawks 50%. But much like the rare illustrious four year college student’s career, there was much of the game left to be played. And play is exactly what Milwaukee came to do. Through the remainder of the first, Milwaukee was able to put the pressure on Atlanta, and take the lead into the first quarter break, Milwaukee 27 Atlanta 19.
Quarter two started off much like my fantasy squad junior year of high school, with a Kyle Korver three pointer, which lead to a 12-5 Atlanta run and the first sustained lead for the team from the south. That is, until Jennings hit his first basket of the night to tie the game back up. Speaking of the head deer, it’ll be interesting to watch how Jennings does for the remainder of the season with a new backcourt mate that can effectively shoot from deep to spread the floor. Then again, the man has played with Ersan for the past few seasons and while his shooting % may have decreased, Ellis can still drive the lane in a manner that can only be described as eloquent. Still, will the fact that defenses have to now respect a three point threat for at least half the game positively impact the ability for Jennings to facilitate the offense? In this quarter of basketball, the answer would be indecisive. He finished the half with three assists and five points. Milwaukee 53 Atlanta 54. Apparently Zaza Pachulia set an Atlanta franchise record with seven offensive rebounds in the quarter, no mention of the record he set seasons ago for the most games played by a Jay Cutler look-a-like.
Quarter three was close. Both teams traded baskets equivalent to body blows in a prized fight, but it was the Bucks who were able to pull ahead. Larry Sanders led the charge with seven rebounds in the quarter, and through three Jonathon Clay was 7/7 in free throws along with six assists that included a nasty dime to Dalembert for a sweet reverse slam. Milwaukee 80 Atlanta 76. But the thing I was most excited to see: Milwaukee shot 47.1% while Atlanta was only at 40.8%. Maybe the team was displaying a new style on a throwback night.
Quarter four looked like it was going to come down to the cliché of which team wanted it more. Through the mid-point of the final period it appeared that the answer to the cliché would be Milwaukee. But the game was not to be finished without a little “fun.” After a hard foul, Henson and Pachulia got into it a little bit resulting in a pair of Henson free throw attempts and a Milwaukee lead 91-83 with a little under seven minutes to go. The lead, much like the throwback jersey, was not meant to last for Milwaukee and, with 1:28 left Atlanta was able to take the lead 101-100. A small Milwaukee lineup was going to need to pull this out for the team, well that and a few key Boylan timeouts. And of course, it would come down to a final possession starting with 15.2 seconds on the clock. Ellis would inbound and receive a give and go to the hole that would give Milwaukee the lead, but after an Al Horford post move to the lane with 5.9 Milwaukee would finally fall 103-102. Al Horford (23pts 11 boards) and Jeff Teague (23 pts 9 assists) lead Atlanta. The new guy, who is a poet I might add, waxed philosophical on the hardwood for 16 points and 7 assists on 44% shooting. Larry Sanders contributed 12 points and 19 boards, but in the end Milwaukee would fall to Atlanta’s effort. On the bright side, we still don’t have a potential Josh Smith max contract on the horizon.