Bucks 109 Jazz 108
Monta Ellis scored a game-high 34 points on Monday night, as the Milwaukee Bucks crept past the Utah Jazz in their second overtime game in as many nights to win their fourth straight. The Bucks were outscored by ten in the fourth quarter mainly because of early foul trouble. Consequently, every foul on the Bucks put the Jazz at the stripe for easy points without the clock running, trimming the lead with each made throw. This inevitably led to the overtime period, as the Bucks could not withstand a Utah comeback.
But JJ Redick took over in the extra period for the Bucks, as he scored eight of the teams ten total points in the frame. He continues to be a consistent shooter coming off of the bench-as the coaching staff has, at times, run a three-guard lineup-since obtaining his services at the trade deadline for Tobias Harris, Doron Lamb and apparently disgruntled backup point guard, Beno Udrih.
At the start of the overtime-shortened-quarter, Paul Millsap made a running layup, but the Bucks’ Redick came back down and hit a three-pointer, and then did the same with only 47 seconds left to give Milwaukee a slight 107-105 advantage in the OT.
DeMarre Carrol made one of two throws at the line to trim the Bucks lead to one point at 107-106, but Monta Ellis drilled a huge jump-shot at the top of the key with 14.7 seconds remaining to give Milwaukee the 109-106 lead. On the ensuing possession, Enes Kanter tipped in a Millsap miss with 1.6 seconds to go, and after a short time-out, the Bucks were able to inbound to Ersan Ilyasova, who caught the ball under the hoop who was comically, unable to finish as time expired.
Milwaukee trailed at the half by three, as Brandon Jennings led the team with ten first-half assists. They came back out after the break and established a nice cushion 73-60 by way of a 21-6 run over the first eight minutes of the third, as Monta Ellis scored 11 points. The lead would not last, of course, as Utah cut into it late in the third quarter and rallied back to force overtime.
But the Bucks prevailed, and with the win, climbed the playoff tree-precipice to within one game of the Boston Celtics for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks are also only three games behind the fourth spot in the East. The next five games against tough opponents will determine if they can continue to rise in the standings.
Okay, who turned on the Gecko?
Of late, someone has switched on Monta Ellis. Please, keep him on! He has taken over this team, although lately, everyone has contributed, including Brandon Jennings, who has had back to back games with over fifteen assists. Jennings has logged a double-double the last two games with the points flowing only after he finds his teammates for easy and sometimes fantastic dishes.
If Jennings continues to embrace this fresh, no-nonsense, Chris Paul (being generous)-like point guard approach, he’ll hopefully, develop into the player the Bucks knew he could be when they gambled on him with the tenth pick in the first round of the 2009 NBA draft. For him to realize his potential, he has got to being to take notice that a great point guard finds his teammates first before he shoots; distributing the ball with ease and then waiting for his shot to come later.
Then again, this could be the product of two guys in contract years playing for big money at the same time whilst propelling a team to victories. Could be…
The credit for this recent streak of success has got to go to the coaching staff. Obvious, yes: the players must play, and they should get some of the kudos, but that’s what their paid to do, as the coaches are paid to, well, coach. Recognize that it had to have been difficult for Jim Boylan to take over this team in the midst of a tough stretch in January, and nonetheless, from his mentor Scott Skiles. Fractured, unsure, and in need of a win streak, of late, they’ve gotten just that, and something has seemed to change within this club. Whatever has been said, schemed, or done, its working. The offense continues to flow through Monta, but JJ Redick has a big something to do with this team’s recent streak of success; making an immediate impact as we hoped he would.
For the Bucks:
Monta Ellis: 34 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists
Brandon Jennings: 20 points & 17 assists
JJ Redick: 17 points, 2 rebounds and 1 assist
Larry Sanders: 8 points, 16 rebounds and 6 blocks
Ersan Ilyasova: 7 points, 4 rebounds and 4 assists
For the Utah Jazz:
Derrick Favors: 23 points & 15 rebounds
Paul Millsap: 22 points, 14 rebounds and 3 assists
Enes Kanter: 18 points and 10 rebounds
Alec Burks: 19 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds
Stat of the night:
Besides the game against Toronto Saturday night (which the Bucks won in overtime by eight) this was the eighth consecutive game for which the final score separating the Bucks and their opponent was at or less than five points.
Second stat of the night:
Larry Sanders, aptly nicknamed the, “Blocktopus” by Bucks radio voice Ted Davis, continues to give reason behind the name with his amazing streak of at least one blocked shot in 40 consecutive games; the longest such streak by a Buck in over 25 years.
Up next: The Bucks (30-28) travels to Los Angeles Wednesday night looking for a signature victory against a dominate Clippers (43-19) team on their home-court. Tip is at 9:30PM Central Standard time.