Heading into halftime against the Washington Wizards last night, the Bucks trailed 41-52. Past iterations of the Milwaukee franchise would've mailed it in first class for the Wizards and lost by 20 or more.
Not this season.
Milwaukee came out in the third quarter fired up to play defense. The tough defensive effort through the second half sparked the Bucks’ offense, which scored 28 points in each of the final two quarters.
Michael Redd had 29 points and Andrew Bogut finished with a double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds) and both players were important for the Bucks down the stretch.
Bogut kept getting the ball down low. He scored it when he was left isolated with a defender, and he made smart passes when the second defender came down to help. Four of his 10 boards came on the offensive end of the floor, allowing Milwaukee to milk the clock late in the game with the lead.
Once down in the fourth, the Wizards' Nick Young continued to fight. Finishing with a career-high 30 points, Young had scored 10 straight points for Washington at one point, bringing them to within a point of the Bucks at 90-89.
That's when Milwaukee's Olympian Redd made his big shot. With 1:20 remaining in the game, Redd received a pass from Luke Ridnour above the three-point line and hit the shot, effectively putting the dagger into the hearts of the Wizards and the crowd with a snap of his left wrist.
From that point on, the game became a free throw contest, with Milwaukee making six out of its seven attempts in the final minute.
Some might think this game was a failure by the Wizards to finish the deal, but it was great defensive effort on the part of the Bucks that keyed the comeback.
Head coach Scott Skiles, who reached career head coaching victory 300, has preached a hard-nosed defensive style all season long, and it's games like this that illustrate the importance of energetic defense in professional basketball.