Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Little Guy Takes Down a Giant

Coming into the season, one of the strengths of this Bucks team was thought to be its depth, and on Tuesday night that was definitely proven to be true. Without Brandon Jennings, Drew Gooden, or Corey Maggette, the Bucks were still able to not only beat the Lakers on their home court, but actually get into their heads and disrupt their entire psyche. It's almost laughable in a way just how the Bucks were able to beat LA, using third-string point guard Earl Boykins in a 22 point effort, which included his complete takeover of the fourth quarter. Lead by 5'5" phenom, the Bucks cruised past the Lakers by a score of 98-79.

Perhaps it was a case of Los Angeles looking past a depleted Bucks team, but make no mistake about it - the Bucks earned this victory. Milwaukee held a small lead throughout most of the game, and then took over in the fourth quarter thanks to Boykins, John Salmons (20 points), and a terrific defensive performance.

"In the second half, we were as good as we've been all year on the defensive end," Scott Skiles told reporters after the game. "To hold that team to 33 points, and 13 in the fourth quarter, that's a difficult task."

It was easy to tell that the Lakers were getting frustrated, as they have been quite used to beating Milwaukee. They took a six game winning streak into this contest, some games which were blowouts and some which were heartbreaking Milwaukee losses at the hands of a Kobe Bryant game winner. But the strong defensive play of the Bucks got into the Lakers heads pretty hard, and that frustration lead to a Kobe Bryant ejection with 2:07 left to play in the fourth quarter. In fact, let's watch it unravel.

The call that led to Kobe's frustration actually came one possession after Bryant did tried to do the same thing to Andrew Bogut, only worse. Using his shoulder to pound into Bogut's chest on a drive, it was actually Bogut that was called with the blocking foul. But Kobe got his comeuppance and was tossed from the game, and then just to add insult to injury it was Boykins that knocked down the pair of free throws after the technical.

With the victory, the Bucks move to 11-16 on the season and actually would hold the eighth seed if the playoffs ended today (and yes, I realize that there is still another four months of regular season basketball to be played, I'll try not to get ahead of myself). I'd like to see the Bucks stay around that mark as they venture through the next couple of weeks without Jennings, and then really start to click a make a run come early January. One thing they must do though during this time is still beat the teams that they are better than even without Jennings, and we'll see if they can do that Thursday night against the 5-21 Sacramento Kings.


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