Saturday night’s telecast opened with a strange sight: Andrew Bogut standing at center court with a microphone—was it Karaoke Night at the Bradley Center? Nope, turned out the Bucks players were just taking a moment to thank the fans for their support. Mo Williams took the mic next, and he must have left his speech notes in the locker room, because he simply giggly promised repeatedly that the team would win “soooo many games next year,” although he didn’t attempt to quantify his prediction. It was a perfect mood setter for the screwball comedy that followed, starring the Bobcats and Bucks in a game that was played about as seriously as a Naked Gun movie. To their credit, Milwaukee sports fans have really shown me something this week. First they turned out in droves to watch two out-of-town MLB teams play, and then they packed the Bradley Center for a game that couldn’t have been more meaningless. For their sake, I hope Williams will deliver on his promise (assuming “soooo many” is greater than or equal to 40).
The usual faces were out for the Bobcats: Carroll, Wallace, Voskuhl, and Morrison (who—with his shaggy, partially combed hair and thrown-together suit—looked vaguely like one of my hick cousins at his third wedding, bride already four month pregnant). The Bucks, on the other hand, were playing without just about everyone on the team who has a clue what they’re doing: Redd, Bogut, Villanueva, Skinner, and Simmons (question: if Simmons comes back next year and plays awesomely, could he win a second “Most Improved Player” award?). The result was a game in which both teams often played like they were trying to dribble a football, totaling 41 turnovers and at least two separate occasions in which the refs signaled “out-of-bounds” by indicating the ball had gone off a player’s face.
Former D-Leaguer Alan Anderson must have felt right at home in this environment, as he notched 24 points, 8 rebounds, and just 5 turnovers. And hats off to Derek Anderson for zipping around the court like he was on a Quidditch broom en route to 21 points and 5 steals. But the game’s Leslie Nielson Award belongs to Walter Herrmann, who had his first 30-point game on 12/15 shooting (6/8 on 3’s). Herrmann also brought home 9 rebounds and severely frustrated counterpart Ruben Patterson: The Walter Stopper shot 3/8 for 10 points and had 6 turnovers.
Herrmann’s herroiccs made up for another off-night by Emeka Okafor (10 points and 5 rebounds), who was frankly outplayed by the spectacularly clumsy Dan Gadzuric (14 and 14), who gave new meaning to the phrase “crash the boards.” I would describe Gadzuric’s game as similar to Anderson Varejao’s, except less graceful. With 4 turnovers (which is kind of hard to do for most centers, except of course Eddy Curry), 5/12 shooting, and 4/9 on free throws, Gadzuric was more of a threat to get his head stuck in the basket than the ball, but you had to like his energy.
Sparked by Gadzuric’s play and some guy named Lynn (Greer, 14 points off the bench), Milwaukee played it close for most of the first half, before we ended the second quarter on an 8-0 run. Then we blew it open in the third, outscoring the Bucks 32-19, with all but 6 points coming by way of Herrmann and the Andersons. The Bucks made something of a comeback in the fourth, but the game was never really in doubt and the Bobcats coasted to their 33rd victory of the season. Asked afterward about his thoughts on the team’s strong finish during his final days as head coach, Bernie Bickerstaff was clearly moved: “I don’t have any,” he responded. Well said, coach, but you’re no Mo Williams.