Leading by 20 at halftime (and holding a lead of 23 at one point in the first half), the Bucks seemed locked in and ready to cruise to an easy victory. Redd was lighting up the scoreboard, driving to the basket, hitting mid-range jumpers, and drilling six out of nine three-point attempts.
At halftime, I was ready to write this article, telling you that the signs of a Bucks victory were all there. Redd got an easy lay-up early in the first quarter, stole the ensuing inbounds pass, and nailed a three. Third-string center Francisco Elson hit a turnaround three-pointer as the halftime buzzer sounded.
These are generally occurrences that show you everything is going right for one team and that the opponents won't be able to catch a break all night. It didn't carry over into the second half, though.
The Kings started catching their break in the form of foul shooting. Every time down the floor it seemed, a Buck would foul a King (five Bucks finished with five fouls), and it wasn't long before Sacramento was in the bonus. This was a recurring theme in the second half, leading to a total of 51 free throw attempts for the home team.
A 70 percent free throw shooting team on the season, good for seventh in the league, the Kings took advantage of their opportunities at the charity stripe, cutting the deficit from 20 at halftime to single digits in the fourth quarter.
I already told you that Michael Redd scored 44 points, which is great output for a great scorer, but he didn't score in the fourth quarter. No made baskets. None. For a player who almost scored 50 points, that simply is not good enough down the stretch.
Charlie Villanueva, starting last night because of Andrew Bogut's inability to make the trip, stepped up huge in the fourth quarter to fend off the frantic Kings.
Villanueva finished with 25 points. 15 of those came in the final 12 minutes, including a huge three-point shot after the Kings came to within two points of the Bucks at 114-112 with just over three minutes to play.
The crowd, albeit small, at Arco Arena was starting to get more vocal at this point, sensing their team might be able to pull the game out. Villanueva's shot quieted the fans, and the Bucks held on for the remaining time.
While it's always nice to get a win, a couple discouraging things happened for the Bucks in this game. One, they reverted to their early season habit of fouling opponents way too much, which is even worse when the opponent makes 43 out of 51 free throws.
Secondly, Redd's performance in the fourth quarter was horrendous. Scoring 44 is one thing, but when his team needed him down the stretch to make some baskets, he was nowhere to be found. This has to change.
Luckily, Charlie V. was out there to help Milwaukee get the W.