Thankfully, Andrew Bogut was able to avoid a migraine Monday night. That appears to have been the only thing that can stop him when he plays the Knicks.
Bogut thought he was on his way to a career night when the Bucks made their first trip to Madison Square Garden earlier this month. He began that evening with six points and three rebounds in five minutes before he could no longer bare the bright lights and big city of New York thanks to a migraine headache. The headaches occasionally leave Bogut feeling numb he says and are certainly nothing he play through.
The Knicks defense on the other hand? Well he just plays right through them.
The Knicks, who play without a center, played like a team … that doesn’t have a center. Bogut was able to get whatever he wanted inside when the Knicks weren’t rushing in with an immediate double team. David Lee is a very good power forward, but at roughly 6’9 he had no answer for the 7’0 Bogut down low. When Bogut wasn’t getting shots, he was hitting the glass on both ends to further frustrate Lee – the same David Lee that was picked over him as an injury replacement for the all-star game. Correlation? I’m sure the Aussie will downplay it, but do you know anyone who, if matched up with them, wouldn’t want to perform better than someone who earned a promotion they thought was rightfully theirs?
In the fourth quarter with the Knicks getting handled but hanging on to hope a comeback may be within reach, Bogut climbed over Lee’s back to tip in a shot. Bogut was whistled for the foul and Lee furiously clapped his hands together and nodded in approval. His cup had runneth over with frustration. Can you blame him though? Bogut would end the night with 24/20 and five blocks. If I was guarding him, I’d be frustrated too.
While the two teams combined to shot just 22 free-throws (14 for the Knicks and eight for the Bucks) that doesn’t mean the Bucks were afraid to get in the paint. Milwaukee outscored New York 50-34 on points in the paint and, through Bogut, asserted their will inside all night. With the way the Bucks were shooting it from deep, 4-18, it was important that they kept finding Bogut and getting good looks. Bogut ended the evening 12-15 from the field.
- Another game, another dagger. Okay, so this one wasn’t a dramatic game winner or a breakaway steal. And the game wasn’t really very close when he hit the shot. But still, John Salmons hit a three to push the Bucks lead to 12 with three minutes to go that, for all intensive purposes, ended the game. It was actually Salmons’ only three of the evening, as he didn’t have much of a night (7-18 FG, 1-7 3FG and 15 points).
- Ersan Ilyasova had a career night when Bogut went down earlier this month in the Big Apple and performed well Monday night too. On a tidy 5-8 from the field, Ersan scored 10 points and pulled down six boards.
Let’s just hold off on declaring Tracy McGrady “back” just yet. Bucks fans have seen this movie before. The once dominant scoring shooting-guard comes back and has a big game. Then he has a game that isn’t as good and you notice him start to grab his knee and wince a little. Next, I predict he’ll miss Tuesday’s game against Boston. Then he’ll come back and have a few mediocre games and the Knicks will say he needs a week or two off. Then he’ll either come back for good or be shelved pending further evaluation. Either way, you’re just getting started on this roller coaster Knick fans. Of course, I could be wrong and T-Mac really could just have had some soreness attributed to not playing for a while. Either way it could be worse.
He could have another season left at $18 million. Sigh.
- Luc Richard Mbah a Moute drew McGrady duty for most of the evening and did his usual fine work. After a fast start, eight points in the first quarter, McGrady rarely had much going the rest of the way. T-Mac’s famed passing skill produced only one assist, but that kind of thing happens when a guy’s team shoots less than 40 percent.
- This was the perfect storm of a good defensive team playing a bad offensive team trying to adjust to some new faces in the picture. At least I think that’s what it was. It sure makes the whole thing a little more explainable. I mean, there has to be some explanation as to how the Knicks were held to a season low 67 points on 33.8 percent shooting.
- Lee may remember fondly upon his 30/15 line from February 6, but this 12 and 13 evening won’t be one for the books. The easy shots he was getting inside against a slower Kurt Thomas and a smaller Ilyasova were nowhere to be found with Bogut constantly lurking.
Three games into the John Salmons Era and things are looking pretty good for the Bucks.
Of course, the three games are ones the Bucks would have expected to win two weeks ago too, so it may be a bit premature to get too excited. But a little excitement here and there can be a good thing right? The Bucks have won nine of their last 12 games and four in a row on the road as they creep up on .500 in February. The last time the Bucks were over .500 this late in the season? 2005-06 – or the last time the Bucks made the playoffs.
Get (a little) excited.