Bucks drop to Celtics 96-89: Last shots

MILWAUKEE | The Milwaukee Bucks turned back the clock in the ‘Return to the MECCA’ game on Thursday night. Their 96-89 loss to the Boston Celtics was played at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, right across the street from their usual home, The BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Milwaukee struggled to find consistency throughout the evening, trailing by as many as 12, and holding a lead as high as seven. The loss drops the Bucks to 3-2 on the young season. Boston moves to 3-2 as well with the win.

Here are 16 last shots for the 16 playoff appearances the Bucks enjoyed while calling the MECCA home from 1968-1988.

1. Milwaukee is a young team that struggled to find a consistent flow throughout the night offensively. There are going to be plenty more nights like this one as the season rolls on. Boston did a good job of containing Giannis Antetokounmpo in the first half, limiting him to only 11 points, three rebounds, and four assists. Celtics’ forward Al Horford was able to force Antetokounmpo into some tough shots, disrupting the entire rhythm of the offense.

2. Milwaukee’s offense is at its best when it’s out in transition. There are times when the Bucks over dribble in the half court, and head coach Jason Kidd said that he thought Thursday was one of those nights. “We had some good looks, I just thought we over-dribbled,” Kidd explained. “I thought the ball just didn’t move tonight as it has in the first couple of games.”

3. Guard Malcom Brogdon agreed with what Kidd had to say about the ball movement after the game. “Just be unselfish. Just move the ball,” Brogdon answered when asked how the team can improve the ball movement. “We have to be conscious of that as the game goes on and shots stop to fall. We get stagnant. We have to know to move the ball and trust each other.”

4. After being pretty much contained in the first half, Antetokounmpo played better after the break.  He totaled 17 points, seven rebounds, and three assists in the second half. It was there that he looked like the same player fans saw in the first four games.

5. Antetokounmpo’s final stat line for the night was 28 points, 10 rebounds, and seven assists. He’s had a double-double in all five games so far on the season. He’s also been Milwaukee’s leading scorer in each contest. Antetokounmpo also had three steals and a block on the night.

6. Brogdon returned to action after missing the team’s win over Charlotte on Monday night. He didn’t look bothered at all by his ankle injury that kept him out of that game. Brogdon finished with 15 points, six rebounds, and five assists. He played nearly 36 minutes, second to only Antetokounmpo, who was on the court for 41 minutes Thursday evening.

7. Forward Khris Middleton also had 15 points for Milwaukee, however he was rather inefficient, needing 16 shots to reach that mark. Middleton was 7 of 16 from the floor and only 1 of 3 from behind the arc. He needs to become more consistent shooting the basketball if the Bucks are going to be successful on the offensive end, especially when they struggle to break out into transition.

8. While it can be easy to pick on Middleton’s inconsistent shooting, Milwaukee did have a good night from the outside. The Bucks finished 11-25 from deep, which is a mark that they need to be around more often. If this team can knock down those shots, it gives Antetokounmpo much more room to operate near the basket.

9. A big reason that Boston was able to pull out the win over Milwaukee was the play of Horford. He was outstanding on the offensive end, and did a solid job defending Antetokounmpo. “Horford can move his feet,” Kidd said. “You’ve got to give him credit. They packed the paint and made it extremely tough on Giannis [Antetokounmpo].”

10. Offensively, Horford finished with a team-high 27 points to go along with nine rebounds and four assists. He shot 11 of 14 from the floor, including 4 of 5 from behind the arc. Horford knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers in the third quarter that seemed to be the turning point in the game.

11. “Yeah, I really have to give all the credit to [Boston guard] Marcus Smart on that,” Horford said about his 3-pointers. “He just sees the game in ways that a lot of times we don’t even see it. He recognized that my guy was kind of falling asleep on the weak side. [Smart] got me open there for back-to-back threes and I felt like that was a big turning point in the game.”

12. The second biggest reason that Boston was able to win was the play of guard Kyrie Irving. He finished with 24 points on 10 of 18 shooting, including some incredible maneuvers to the hoop and finishes. Irving is without question one of the best ball-handlers in the NBA, and likely the best below-the-rim finisher in the league today, if not ever. He also had a team-high seven assists.

13. Irving did make news earlier in the day at shoot-around when he made it seem as if he thought the game being played at the MECCA was being played on the original floor from back in the 1970s and 1980s. He caught plenty of grief for that on social media, and deservedly so. While Irving was warming up with about 45 minutes until game time, fans could be heard yelling his way, asking if he was alright out there on the court.

14. Even though he was worried about it beforehand, he did have good things to say following the game. “It was great to see the intimacy of those seats out there as well as the fans kind of being right on top of us,” Irving said. “I enjoy environments like that. It was definitely great to be out there on that floor.”

15. The two teams have already met twice in the first five games of the season, each winning on the road. Obviously, matchups in October shouldn’t be overly looked into, seeing as how much can change between now and the start of the playoffs in April. That being said, a 7-game series between these two teams would be fun for everybody involved.

16. The Bucks will be in action next on Sunday in Atlanta taking on the Hawks (1-4). They return to the BMO Harris Bradley Center on Halloween to face reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder.

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Jonathan Taylor Takes Home Big Ten Honor

For the second week in a row, the Wisconsin Badgers have a player honored as one of the Big Ten’s finest. This week, the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week has been awarded to freshman running back Jonathan Taylor for his performance against Nebraska in week six. Last week, Natrell Jamerson took home the conference’s Defensive Player of the Week award.

Taylor rushed for a career-high 249 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries en route to a Wisconsin 38-17 win in Lincoln.

One of the game’s biggest moments came shortly after Nebraka’s Stanley Morgan, Jr. scored on an 80-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Tanner Lee. After the ensuing kick off was a touchback, the Badgers lined up at their own 25-yard-line. Quarterback Alex Hornibrook took a shot gun snap and handed the ball off to Taylor who then raced around the right side all the way into the end zone for a 75-yard score to give the Badgers a 17-7 lead.

Taylor’s effort Saturday night made him the second true freshman in Wisconsin history to total over 200 yards on the ground in multiple games, joining Ron Dayne who did it in 1996.

This is the second time this season Taylor has been awarded both honors, the first was week two against Florida Atlantic University where he totaled 223 yards on 26 carries, reaching the end zone a career-high three times.

This is the third Offensive Player of the Week honor for Wisconsin this year, quarterback Alex Hornibrook took home the award for his performance in week three against BYU.

Jonathan Taylor Shines in his Biggest Spot

The University of Wisconsin has a long tradition of great running backs. That’s no secret. To put Jonathan Taylor up with the likes of Ron Dayne, Montee Ball, and Melvin Gordon after five games would be irresponsible. That being said, he’s certainly on track to reach that level of greatness.

Taylor is already the best freshman back in the Big Ten, and may only trail Saquon Barkley of Penn State as the league’s best back. Barkley is a bona fide Heisman Trophy contender, and deservedly so. Taylor, while not quite in the forefront of the Heisman discussion, could very well find himself in New York for the trophy presentation in December if he keeps at his current pace.

He helped that cause in Wisconsin’s 38-17 victory against Nebraska in Lincoln in week six. Taylor rushed for 249 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries in his first taste of a Big Ten road game. Nebraska isn’t the easiest place to play at night, especially for a freshman. Taylor thrived in that difficult environment.

When Wisconsin needed a big play, Taylor was the one to step up. Nebraska cut Wisconsin’s lead to three points on a Tanner Lee 80-yard touchdown strike to Stanley Morgan, Jr. with 1:20 remaining in the first half. The Badgers needed a response to weather the storm in a hostile road environment.

On Wisconsin’s first offensive snap after the Morgan, Jr. touchdown, quarterback Alex Hornibrook took a shotgun snap from his own 25-yard-line and handed the ball to Taylor on an inside zone play.

11 seconds later Wisconsin was winning 17-7.

Few athletes in the country have the ability to change the game the way Taylor did against Nebraska. Even fewer freshman have that ability. Another that comes to mind in the Big Ten is Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins. Dobbins is a very talented freshman for the Buckeyes who burst on the scene week one with a big game against Indiana. While he certainly has a similar talent level to that of Taylor, Dobbins has lacked the consistency that Taylor has shown during his brief career.

In the biggest test of his young career, at home against Oklahoma, Dobbins was held in check with only 72 yards and a score. When the lights shined brightest, Taylor stepped up to the plate and delivered when his team needed him most.

This doesn’t mean that things cannot change, because they certainly may.  Right now Taylor is the best freshman in the Big Ten, and he’s not very far behind Barkley for the best back. The sky is the limit for the true freshman from Salem, NJ.

“The offensive line, tight ends, fullbacks, receivers did a heck of a job,” Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst said following the win over Nebraska. “I thought [Taylor] was special tonight.”

He was special, and he has been for a majority of the season for the Badgers. If Wisconsin is going to potentially win the Big Ten and participate in the College Football Playoff Taylor is going to need to continue to be special.

“I think he’s continuing to get better.” Chryst said.

That’s a scary thought for not only the rest of the Big Ten, but the rest of the country as well.

Former Wisconsin quarterback Joel Stave back in the NFL

Joel Stave has found a new team.

The former Wisconsin quarterback has been signed to the Washington Redskinspractice squad, the team announced Tuesday.

Stave went undrafted in 2016 after finishing his Wisconsin career with 7,365 yards, 48 touchdowns and the most wins (31) of any quarterback in program history. He spent time with the Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks and Kansas City Chiefs, including the 2017 preseason with the latter.

He was released by the Chiefs in September after completing 4 of 9 passes for 80 yards and one touchdown during the preseason.

The Redskins cut offensive lineman Jerry Ugokwe to make room for Stave.

Brett Phillips, Chase Anderson push Milwaukee past Pittsburgh 8-2

Chase Anderson earned win No. 10 on the year as the Milwaukee Brewers rolled past the Pittsburgh Pirates for an 8-2 victory Wednesday night.

Pitching on short rest for the first time in his starting career, Anderson went 5 1/3 innings, giving up just one earned run on seven hits to help the Crew earn a second-straight win. Five relievers held Pittsburgh scoreless the rest of the way.

Offensively, the Brewers were paced by Brett Phillips. He was 2 of 4 with three RBIs, including a two-run double in the third inning to break the game open. The centerfielder was also stellar on the defensive side of things, making perhaps the throw of the year to get Pittsburgh’s David Freese at the plate and save a run.

Eric Thames drilled his 30th home run of the year, a monster 2-run opposite field shot, that gave him homers in back-to-back games for the first time in a month.

With St. Louis losing, the Brewers moved into second place in the NL Central, a 1/2 game up on the Cardinals and 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Chicago Cubs. As for the second wild card spot in the National League, Milwaukee is now three games back of Colorado, which fell to Arizona Wednesday night.

The Brewers have Thursday off before opening a series against Miami at Miller Park on Friday.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers ‘fixes’ Sam Dekker’s sink

We now have the story behind the picture former Wisconsin basketball star Sam Dekker put out on social media that showed Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers fixing his sink.

Four days after Dekker posted the image with a caption that read, “Quarterback by day, mechanic by night. Thanks for fixing our sink @AaronRodgers12,” Rodgers spoke to Wisconsin reporters in advance of Sunday’s season opener against Seattle and said it wasn’t much of a fix.

“He was having some sink issues and asked for my help. He’s 23 years old. I know he’s engaged and taking that next step to being an adult, but he’s not quite there yet.

“I went under the sink. What the [Youtube] tutorial taught me was to test the switch first and what kind of rumble you hear – or lack of rumble – tells you what’s going on with the garbage disposal. So, I flipped the switch, nothing happened. So it means two things. One, it’s completely broken and needs to be changed out. Or, two, it’s not plugged in – it wasn’t plugged in.

“So, that’s the picture. Me holding the plug as I called him from the other room and said, ‘Hey, idiot, it wasn’t plugged in.’

“He’s learning.”

LISTEN: Aaron Rodgers tells the story of how he ‘fixed’ Sam Dekker’s sink

Jordan Brady hired to coach the Bucks’ G League affiliate

The Wisconsin Herd has its first head coach.

The G League affiliate of the Milwaukee Bucks named Jordan Brady as coach for its first ever season.

“My family and I couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity to be a part of the Milwaukee Bucks and Wisconsin Herd family as well as the Oshkosh community,” Brady said in statement on the team’s website. “I look forward to working with (general manager) Dave (Dean) and the entire organization to build a successful team that is committed to developing young, talented players on and off the court.”

Brady has a lot of minor league basketball experience, including spending time with five different organizations in recent years as an assistant coach. He also played three years in what was then the D League.

“The Wisconsin Herd is an important component in building a championship-caliber team in Milwaukee, and Jordan brings the grit, leadership and vision necessary to spark that process in Oshkosh,” Dean said. “Jordan has the right experience and tools to develop young talent and build the foundation for a successful NBA G League team. We are excited to have him at the helm for the Herd in our inaugural season.”

The Herd will get its first year underway in November. Among the players on the team, which will play its games in a new 3,500-seat arena in Oshkosh, is former Wisconsin guard Bronson Koenig.

Mallards crush Green Bay 14-4 to keep playoff hopes alive

It’s the final week of the Northwoods League season, and the Madison Mallards are still in the playoff race.

That’s after a whipping Green Bay 14-4 Monday night, leaving manager Donnie Scott’s team 1 ½ games behind Lakeshore for the final playoff spot in the South Division, according to the team’s website.

Madison drilled three home runs on the night, including solo shot by center fielder Doran Turchin, his team-leading 11th on the year. He finished with three RBIs, as did right fielder Cade Bunnell.

Matt McCarty got the win, giving up two earned runs over four innings of work. The bullpen was great as Riley Pawelski and David Stover allowed just one hit over the final nine innings of the game.

The Mallards are now 35-32 on the year with four games to play.

They’ll take on Green Bay again on Wednesday, this time at Warner Park in Madison. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m., and can be heard on 106.7 FM and 1670 AM ‘The Zone.’

Mallards fall at Lakeshore 3-2

The Madison Mallards fell 3-2 to Lakeshore on Sunday in Kenosha.

Matt Horkey gave manager Donnie Scott a solid start, throwing five scoreless innings before the Chinooks finally got to him in the sixth. That’s where they scored all three of their runs, including an RBI double from centerfielder Drake Lubin.

On the other side, Lakeshore’s Austin Havekost gave the Mallards all kinds of trouble. He made 7 2/3rds innings, allowing just one unearned run on five hits to pick up the win. Joe Heineman came on for the save.

Madison did watch first baseman David Vinsky drill his second home run of the year.

The loss dropped Madison to 15-16 in the second half of the season and 34-32 overall. The Mallards will open the final week of the regular season tonight in Green Bay.