Erik Thorne

OnBucksBasketball - Week 13

Pat Riley has done many great things during his time in the NBA. He has won a championship playing, three while coaching and two serving as an organization president. However, his best addition to the game may be one tremendous quote; “great effort springs naturally from great attitude.” The 2013-14 Milwaukee Bucks have been lacking in both the effort and attitude department in recent weeks. The team has had to deal with players being late for practice, arguing between teammates and a general malaise for the game they grew up loving. Sure, Riley was involved with teams that had winning traditions, but building a successful brand has to start from the top. Winning can cure most problems, but until the Bucks can consistently show desire and a positive mentality, coach Larry Drew’s team will remain in dire straits.

Usually when a player has his own bobblehead being handed out at the game, he stinks it up. On a cold Wednesday night at the Bradley Center, Caron Butler was the rare exception. After having a root canal the day before, Butler was a game time decision. However, the wily veteran knew that he had to play in this game for the fans. The Bucks had failed to earn a victory against Detroit so far in the season, but on this night Milwaukee showed that they are capable of winning with tough and gritty play.

The Pistons led for much of the night until the beginning of the fourth quarter, when Butler would turn up the intensity by hitting back to back three pointers with the clock winding down. After the 104-101 victory, the Racine native said, “A lot of loved ones, a lot of people in the community came out and supported me and the team tonight, so it's a special night”. Not only would the Bucks win, but they would snap a nine game losing streak heading into the game.

Next up for the Bucks was a trip to lush Cleveland for a matchup between two underperforming squads. Since his arrival into the league in 2011, Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving has really enjoyed playing against Milwaukee as he has averaged 28 points per game in each matchup. The Bucks finally had an answer for Irving though, as he would be held to only ten points in 28 minutes. Milwaukee appeared sluggish and disinterested throughout much of this affair, as time after time they allowed cutters in the paint for easy scores. In the end, Milwaukee just couldn’t make shots and as a result Khris Middleton led scorers with only thirteen points.

The week rounded out with a visit from former rival Atlanta in what would be one of the worst games of the year for Bucks fans to take in. The Hawks were without the services of skilled players Jeff Teague and Al Horford, yet that wouldn’t make any difference as Milwaukee was outscored 65-39 in the second and third quarter combined. “That was just a totally, totally unacceptable performance,” said first year coach in disgust. The lone bright spot in the blowout loss was Nate Wolters earning some playing time in the fourth quarter. The rookie point guard attacked the rim, played tenacious defense, and actually looked like he wanted to help the team.

After the game, coach Drew closed the locker room for a much needed team meeting. In his 37 years in the league, the Bucks skipper explained that the most important thing for his players to do is keep playing hard. In times of adversity, the great professional athletes rise above and perform to at least the level at which their being paid. At times in the game, it seemed as though players were taking possessions off and that is totally unacceptable. Even though Milwaukee has the worst record in the league, they still have their pride to play for. And if they have run out of pride, they always have the name on the front and back of their jerseys to play hard for, too.

BUCK OF THE WEEK! Caron Butler – 42 points, 12 rebounds, 7 assists and 1 win.

8 wins/35 losses