Bucks Lead

Bucks Rally, Squash Hornets


A lot of loud talking heads at halftime think they know basketball. But to understand how the Bucks rallied at the last moment to defeat Charlotte 108-99, we have to ask behaviorist B.F. Skinner. Skinner observed his pigeons would get antsier the closer they came to reward time. But humans know better, right? Maybe not. Observe how many fouls and timeouts cram the last two minutes of an NBA game. Similarly, the Bucks were outhustled for three quarters and listlessly trailed 76-87. The fourth quarter? The NBA’s best team made the other team roadkill.


Giannis, coming off the excitement of earning All-Star Captaincy, looked over-buzzed early, even missing a one on zero dunk! But a steal and slam (1:07 mark below) instantly stole the juju.

The dunk fueled a 32-12 fourth, with the Hornets appearing increasingly anxious. A stoic coach Mike Budenholzer credited Giannis, stating “It goes without saying that Giannis can do almost anything” and also crediting Pat Connaughton’s defense.

Of course, almost anything includes a patented mean mug.

And outscoring Charlotte 14-12 in the fourth by himself. After the game, he explained the missed dunk and the team’s lack of energy and attention to detail through three quarters. Most importantly, he observed how the psychological knockout blow is crucial for April.


While Toronto’s near miss leaves Milwaukee alone in first, improvement is the most important aspect for the balance of the season. While seeding matters, the lights literally shine brighter in the playoffs. The Bucks probably aren’t quite to the point of playing cat-and-mouse with opponents in the postseason. But they proved that they won’t quit if they don’t have the most energy through the early game, or even most of it. Last year, Boston proved top teams can lose if they take games off against underdogs. Friday the Bucks proved they’ll never relent against a determined, but less talented, opponent. And that should make the helpless pigeons separating Milwaukee and the finals antsy indeed.




About Jeffrey Newholm

"Jammin Jeff" Newholm had been a basketball fanatic since his high school days, and remained a casual fan as a student in Whitewater. Wishing to check in as an active participant, he also completed a writing certificate program at UWM. He loves seeing Bucks games more than any other activity in hometown Milwaukee and especially screaming really really loudly to get someone to miss a free throw. Twitter: @JeffreyNewholm

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