Redick disappointed with bottom line of Bucks debut
Defeat overshadows encouraging first outing
It was only one game.
J.J. Redick had played 396 other ones during his 7+ seasons in the National Basketball Association.
Redick did enough to hang his hat on during his debut with the Milwaukee Bucks on Feb. 23, coming off the bench to play 35 minutes, score 16 points and make all seven of his free-throw attempts.
But Redick made it obvious afterward that he didn’t get what he was looking for when he reported for work that day at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
The Bucks fell to the Atlanta Hawks 103-102 after Monta Ellis missed a runner from the lane at the buzzer. The defeat was their third in a row – by a grand total of six points -- and their ninth in 11 outings. They dropped to 26-28 and remained eighth in the Eastern Conference standings.
“I feel like I was brought here to help this team win and secure a good playoff position,” Redick said. “I’m a competitor, and I certainly didn’t want to start off with a loss here. Coming from Orlando, where in the last 30 games we were 3-27, I really wanted to win.”
Redick was acquired by Milwaukee along with forward/center Gustavo Ayon and point guard Ish Smith from the Orlando Magic in exchange for forward Tobias Harris and guards Beno Udrih and Doron Lamb on Feb. 21, the day of the NBA trading deadline.
The former Duke University All-American was averaging a career-best 15.1 points through 50 games with Orlando this season. The 6-foot-4-inch, 190-pound guard talked after the game about his first full day on the job in Milwaukee.
“When I came out for warm-ups, it was a little weird after seven years of coming here, going to the other side,” he said. “I was tempted to walk in the visitors’ locker room this morning when I got to the arena.
“But I love playing basketball, and I was excited to play. I’m excited to be here and be in a playoff run.”
Redick’s playoff experience was one of the factors that convinced Bucks management that he would be an asset to the team. He has played in 44 playoff games, having reached the postseason in each of the last six seasons with Orlando.
“I'm very happy to be back in the mix and be back on a playoff team,” said Redick, who was going through rebuilding mode with a young Magic team prior to the trade. “I feel like I'm a guy who's been through the fire. I've guarded Kobe Bryant in the NBA Finals. I've started a Game 7 in Boston when they were the defending champs.
“My focus right now is helping this team secure a playoff spot and hopefully a higher playoff spot than the eighth seed.”
Redick entered the contest in the third quarter after Brandon Jennings was assessed two quick fouls. He was greeted by a loud ovation from the audience, which was listed at 18,289.
“I couldn’t believe that,” Redick said of his Milwaukee welcome. “I was obviously humbled by it when I came into the game.”
He had no idea, however, how long his stint on the court would last.
“I’ve got to be honest,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know if it would be 8 minutes or 20 minutes. They let me out there and let me get into a rhythm.
“The only thing was, we got into the fourth quarter and they started calling plays I didn’t know. I was a little confused. But we’ll clean that up.”
Bucks Head Coach Jim Boylan wound up giving Redick 35 minutes, and despite his unfamiliarity with the plays being called down the stretch, he was on the floor with the game in the balance.
Redick said he began to find a comfort zone relatively quickly after entering the game, and he doesn’t anticipate having much difficulty learning the playbook in short order. Though he replaced Jennings in the lineup when he first entered the game, he later played in a three-guard lineup with Jennings and Monta Ellis.
“I think for me, there were some groups that I felt really comfortable with,” he said. “There was good ball movement.
“It’s not as tough as you would think. I jokingly tell people that there are like five plays that NBA teams run. You’ve just got to know what every team calls it. Everyone’s got a different call for those plays.”
Redick missed his first three field-goal attempts as a Buck in the first quarter, but was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer and converted all three of his free throws.
He connected for his first Bucks basket on a 20-foot jump shot from the baseline in the second quarter. He wound up making four of nine shots from the field and all seven of his free throws for 16 points and did an effective job of finding his teammates, totaling seven assists. One of his assists came on a no-look pass to a fast-breaking Samuel Dalembert, who threw down a reverse dunk to bring Bucks fans out of their seats.
Milwaukee led by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter before Atlanta rallied behind center Al Horford, whose hook shot with 5.9 seconds to play was the difference-maker. Horford scored a game-high 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Ellis, whose layup over Horford had put the Bucks ahead 102-101 with 10.8 seconds to play, tried to come up with an encore, but his shot bounced off the mark at the buzzer.
Redick expressed his belief that his new team let one get away.
“Personally, I don’t think we should have been in a position where it was a one-possession game,” Redick said. “We had kind of separated ourselves there toward the end of the third or early in the fourth.
“I believe it was 100-93 when they called a timeout. They scored eight in a row. You can’t rely on winning one-possession games. You’ve got to clamp down when you’re up seven with a few minutes to go.”
Redick expressed his eagerness to bolster the Bucks’ backcourt when he was introduced to the Milwaukee media Friday.
“I have a great deal of respect for Brandon and Monta as players,” Redick said. “They’re two really dynamic guards. I actually think I fit well because I’m a guy who doesn't need to have the basketball in his hands a lot. I don’t need a lot of touches necessarily; I don’t need a lot of dribbles. That’s not my game.
“I’ll continue to be who I am as a player and that’s just a quick decision-maker -- drive, pass, shoot, whatever it may be. But get off the ball and let those guys play to their strengths.”