Bucks Diary

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Bucks Diary: Bucks Overcome Inspired Mourning

Love for the Pocket Rocket on Opening Night

Great Britain's experience in World War I has often been described as a series of frustrating defeats followed by ultimate victory. Meaning, Great Britain overcame the military might of Germany by hanging together and then simply outlasting them in the end. That's what happened in the Bucks victory over the Heat on Saturday night. In front of a sometimes raucous, sometimes quiet opening night crowd the Bucks withstood the Heat and a brilliant throwback performance by Heat C Alonzo Mourning to post their third victory in three chances to begin the 2005-06.

Heat takes Bucks Out of their Game

For most of the night the Heat, led by Mourning, had the Bucks out of their game. The team's offensive sparkplug PG TJ Ford couldn't get in the paint, and when he did the Heat collapsed on him and Mourning slammed the door shut. The Bucks got occasional points out of their running game, but weren't able to get out often because Mourning and Heat PF Udonis Haslem controlled the glass. If that weren't bad enough, the Heat seemed to quiet the red-hot Michael Redd for long stretches of the game. This didn't portend well for Milwaukee. In fact, at several points in the game I looked at the scoreboard and was astonished to see the Bucks were still within a couple of baskets of the Heat. The Heat seemed to control the tempo and action through most of the game.

Simmons Keeps Bucks Above Water

During a crucial stretch in the fourth quarter, with the Bucks down 87-79 and Miami threatening to breakaway, new Bucks F Bobby Simmons endeared himself to his new fans by almost singlehandedly keeping Milwaukee in the game. Simmons scored 10 of his game high 23 points during a five minute stretch late in the fourth quarter that turned the game in the Bucks favor. In the time between Simmons first basket of the fourth quarter, on a lay-up off a beautiful feed by G Michael Williams at the 6:51 mark, and his final points of the game, on a thunderous driving dunk that sent the crowd into a frenzy at the 1:12 mark, the Bucks outscored Miami 17-6 and effectively snatched the game away from the visitors. A brilliant home debut for Simmons.

Salute to Alonzo Mourning

When oldtimers argue that Boston Celtics C Bill Russell was the greatest player of all time, many today roll their eyes. After all he couldn't shoot. Then when you watch what Alonzo Mourning did on Saturday night you reassess. A center who can effectively turn the lane into a veritable no man's land can essentially tilt the entire game in his team's favor. Wow, was Mourning impressive. He simply would not let the Bucks get any easy baskets, and he swept the boards like it was 1995 all over again. And I feel great for him. He may be the most underappreciated great center since the incomparable Nate Thurmond roamed the paint. Plus that "ooh my kidney" taunt by the overrated jerk Kenyon Martin still boils my blood. All in all an inspirational night for a true professional.

Heat G Dwayne Wade is Getting Jordan Calls

If the game against the Bucks is any good indication, Miami Heat G Dwayne Wade is being given the ultimate show of respect from NBA officials: he's getting Jordan calls! In other words, whenever he drives to the basket now its an automatic foul. Some of the calls were legitimate, but several were ridiculous and smacked of the old "automatic whistle". Since his whole game seems to be drives to the hoop, Wade could really feast this season if he improved his shooting from the line. A bit of advice for him though: He's not going to last long in this league if he has to make his living that way. He's an injury waiting to happen. He needs to develop a more dependable jumpshot for the betterment of his physical health.

What to make of the win for the Bucks
What did this game tell us? Well I thought it was the Bucks most impressive win. Michael Redd was human with only 23 points. In addition the Bucks were taken completely out of their game for long stretches by tenacious Heat defense and yet showed the depth, resiliency, and resourcefulness to pull the game out.
Some will no doubt call this a tainted win because of the lack of Shaq, but I don't think so. Even on two healthy ankles, Shaq is again out-of-shape and no longer plays defense with any level of interest, and only rebounds when he feels like it; he certainly would not have brought the passion and effectiveness to either area that Mourning brought. Where the team most probably missed Shaq was during the Bucks decisive 17-6 run at the end of the game. During that crucial stretch the Heat began missing their jump shots and seemed to have no other option than Dwayne Wade's kamikaze drives to the hoop. Well, when the rest of the offense melts down you can generally still throw the ball down low to Shaq for some unstoppable points. They missed that, but the Bucks would have won either way.

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